Zack Michener

I’m a web developer and designer in Seattle, Washington. I support my coffee and vinyl addictions with client work, and keep myself busy with all kinds of other projects. Check out a few below.



What if Spotify was available in 1987?

Since getting an old Fat Mac on Ebay a few months ago, I’ve been having a lot of fun learning to program for it. Getting back to the roots of GUI programming and design has been a focusing constraint in learning to build functional UIs — no color (not even grayscale!), barely any space, limited resources. It makes me appreciate the hard work and careful consideration many app makers had back then.

For this project I made a Sketch library for many of the old Macintosh Toolbox components, which is included in the download link. One thing to keep in mind while designing for the old Mac in Sketch is that pixel mode will make fonts look blurrier than they would be on the real device. The amazing Chicago FLF font lets us pretend to have the original bitmap font, but it doesn’t translate perfectly to the pixel version.

The album art posed a problem initially, since the old Mac can only display black and white pixels. At first I simply threshholded the images, but this quickly revealed limitations. Thankfully, I discovered Bayer pattern dithering from this blog, which was exactly what I needed. I adapted his final R script into one that could transform my album artwork correctly from the command line, which is also included.


At Zillow, employees can earn badges on their profile for various accomplishments. Many of the badges look really nice, because they were created by our excellent design team. However, badges are pretty low priority, so often they don’t have time to create new ones, and many badges are designed by others without quite the same polish.

The inconsistency started to annoy me, so I decided to make this tool that would help anyone create a decent-looking (or at least consistent-looking) badge. Most of the badges follow a pretty standard template, so I distilled the controls down to only what varied between them.

The color picker users Vibrant.js to select a palette based on the image you upload, to make it even easier to match colors. The settings control an SVG image, which is downloaded as a PNG when the user is finished. They can then submit it to an admin to add to the system.

Brutal Chat

Brutalist web design has always been a favorite of mine. I love the clean lines, the lo-fi vibe, and the dark alternative proto-Internet that we all like to imagine used to exist. In some sense, it’s liberating to demand that the user bend to the idiosyncrasies of the design rather than cater to what users want or expect.

This specific project was greatly inspired by the chat mini-game thing in Super Hot. Basically, I stole the whole premise and turned it into a website. I loved the idea of real-time text, where you could see people make typos, and wouldn’t have to wait staring at a “John is typing…” status. The automatic pseudonyms were also a fun trick, which I imagined would give some illusion of privacy, when in reality you can learn to distinguish people pretty quickly based on their typing speed an accuracy.

It was also included on, which, if you were still doubting, proves it’s bona fide.