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Designing the user experience, empathy first.

When any team member joins us at Linux Academy, they have very high expectations to meet. Of course, the usual qualifications like a fitting degree and background have to be met. But beyond that, there’s a critical factor that determines who is brought into this unique team of tenacious, learner advocates. This ‘X factor’ isn’t just what we expect in our staff, it’s what we see in every one of our learners. It’s the difference between “I want to” and “I did”. It changes lives and shapes the future of innovation. It’s why our new website was built and rebuilt so meticulously and passionately. 

We’re talking, about heart. And no team member exemplifies our commitment to this value more, than Joel Lopez. 

If you don’t know Joel, you’re wrong. Because you actually do. You’ve seen his work and you’ve benefitted from his intuitive design skills. Our beautiful new external site was the product of months of his team’s dedication. Months of user testing. Months of finding and addressing bugs. Hours and hours of learning and perfecting the flow of how you, our user, would best use our site. 

Although Joel knew hundreds of thousands would see the new look of Linux Academy, he never lost sight of the one. You. You were always the reason behind his relentless pursuit of user-centric content and design. As he put it best:

“A better experience will give our students a better chance. A better chance at that job, that certification, or that dream.”

We pride ourselves on being dream champions around here, and Joel’s empathy and kindness are what continue to drive his heart for students, and the admiration of his peers. And while Joel’s work today is a testament to his past, you might be wondering what exactly that was. 


Before Linux Academy

Joel has been interested in design since the days of coding in LiveJournal and Angelfire. Back in high school, Joel learned the possibilities of HTML4 and CSS (still the new kid on the block at the time) and was intrigued. After high school, he immediately began pursuing a degree in Interactive Media Design at the Art Institute of Tampa.

This was an exciting and big change from his hometown in Puerto Rico. Here he was able to learn programming logic, motion graphics, video editing, and more. His passions were evident quickly, and he was voted to be President of the Interactive Media Design club. This was a reluctant undertaking for Joel as he was “voluntold” to take on the role. Fortunately, though, it only solidified his aptitude and love for coding and design. While in this role he also tutored students, which eventually led him toward an instructing profession. 

At 22 years young, Joel was enthusiastically teaching students how to build and design in the technology space. It was challenging, it was rewarding, and it ignited a passion for education that carried Joel through years of agency work and projects, with deep empathy for students always remaining. 

His true heart for the user was reflected in his work at the activism organization (RED), where he immersed himself in social marketing and got to see the impact of a positive message. Then he furthered his design prowess building a slew of sites for various public figures and sectors, from bull riders, to vehicle parts companies- always seeking to provide a unified and eloquent user experience. After years of helping clients tell their stories, Joel decided to work on his own, by taking a year off and traveling the world. 

“I use traveling as a way to understand the culture and use that in my designs and updates. It helps you get a better understanding of why.”


Joining the crew

Finally, after months of experiencing multiple cultures and breathing the air of many cities, Joel found his way home to Linux Academy. On a regular day, you’ll find Joel knee-deep in student feedback. Combing through the site to find possible problems and potential opportunities. Never satisfied and never tired, you’ll find Joel in the office: happily belting out an operatic tune, sipping his fourth cup of coffee as he tears apart the very designs he so concisely creates. 

“I always say it’s never done. Because you can always improve. You should always improve.”

Despite this intense dedication to improvement and excellence, Joel doesn’t strive for accolades or trophies. With a Mr. Rogers-like mentality toward thoughtfulness for all, Joel is more focused on making a positive impact with his design than anything else. 

“ I only take on jobs where I can have a positive impact on the person. I want to give them (learners) something they can feel good about.”

So to impact you, our learners, Joel presses on. Day after day he learns from your feedback, he builds from user patterns, and he devotes his heart to his piece of the Linux Academy experience. 

“I don’t want to be famous. I don’t need to be remembered. That opens the door to untruth. I just want to impact people to go out and impact others.”

In an effort to make amazing content, Linux Academy is committed to finding more people like Joel. People with big dreams and your best interest in mind. A brilliant mind is great, an outstanding resume turns heads, but the soul of our team and what truly makes us different from many is heart.

Do you have the passion it takes to change someone’s life story? See open positions here.


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