Taking the Shuttle

In 12 years at George Mason, I am taking the shuttle to work for the first time. A few years ago, I discovered that Mason offered free shuttle service from Fairfax to Arlington, but I hadn’t had the motivation to take advantage of it. I wanted to take my car just so I could drive to the Powhaton Springs Skatepark on my lunch break. As much as I loved going to the skatepark, I felt guilty about paying for the parking, toll, and gas.

As my car is aging and in need of constant repairs, I need to just make the move. I don’t want to spend too much money fixing my car. I definitely don’t want to buy a new car either. So let’s get back to public transportation. The shuttle is provided by Mason; therefore, it is semi-private.

I woke up this morning and walked over to the main campus. The walk took 20 minutes. The shuttle stopped at Rappahannock River Lane at 8:20 am. The shuttle was big and comfortable. There were only five of us. Air conditioning was blasting and WiFi was available so I could start my work day right on my commute. I arrived at Scalia Law at 9:00 am.

I definitely can do this. I am going to cancel my parking permit and take the shuttle. It takes me 12 years, but better late than never.

Note to self: I will save $85 a month on parking fee.

2022-2023 Self Evaluation

The self review process has changed bit this year with less questions and less verbiage. I was told not select outstanding performance, unless my performance was truly outstanding. I never selected outstanding in the past, but former supervisor always selected outstanding in her review of my performance. I also have a new supervisor this year and I don’t know what to expect. I chose successful across the board. I hope my new supervisor agree, but I am not going to lose sleep over it.

Job Knowledge & Execution

  • Stayed on top of responsibilities as Director of Design & Web Services
  • Made a major upgrade from MODX version 2 to version 3
  • Implemented web application firewall (WAF) to tighten security
  • Implemented content delivery network (CDN) to speed up performance
  • Upgrade PHP version 7 to 8
  • Improved HTML and CSS for richer content delivery
  • Revised and improved accessibility
  • Worked with our Web Content Specialist to keep content up-to-date
  • Developed a solution to display banners on digital monitors to promote the law school activities
  • Built out calendar for public events
  • Worked with Events Manager to promote the law school special events
  • Worked with outside vendors on digital advertising and marketing
  • Supported research centers with their WordPress websites
  • Collaborated with University’s IT on web-related projects
  • Developed new skills by learning and researching on Cascade CMS

Organizational Citizenship/Relationships

  • Supported faculty members with their digital requests
  • Worked with administrators on website updates and developments
  • Provided website solutions for admissions offices, career center, and research centers
  • Worked with everyone in the Law School to meet expectations of quality, accuracy, timeliness, ethics, professional conduct, and service to the university community
  • Took web accessibility and diversity seriously to support the university’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Accessible to others and responsive to their questions, needs, and concerns

Goals, Objectives, & Results

  • Keep our websites in the best condition
  • Support the Dean Strategic Communications and Marketing in web marketing and communications
  • Collaborate with Faculty Services Librarian & Assistant Director of Communications and the Technology Services team on web-related technologies and digital designs

Operational Leadership

  • Led web development and design research, implementation, and execution
  • Initiated projects including WordPress theme design and documenting our processes
  • Supervised and mentored the web team
  • Provided opportunities for team members to reach their goals

Mentoring & Coaching

  • Encouraged team members to learn through online resources and conferences
  • Encouraged team members to take on projects that will help them grow their career
  • Opened to help others who need feedback on graphic design and web development
  • Updated the web design and development blog to provide in-depth documentation on MODX and all of the special features that I have implemented over the years
  • Encourage team members to contribute to the blog, which allows them to improve their analytical skills


  • Successfully maintained high-quality websites for over a decade
  • Continuously improving performance, engagement, usability, and accessibility
  • There are many opportunities for improvements including creating new exciting contents and removing outdated materials


  • Improve the CMS manager to provide an easier way for non-technical users to make updates
  • Looking forward to new challenges including Implementing a new content management system
  • Improve contents with engaging stories, videos, and interactions

Ten-Year Service Award

I managed to miss the 2022 University Day Service Awards ceremony yesterday. Blame it on the midterm election. Today I received a thank-you ecard from Provost, Executive Vice President & Professor Mark R. Ginsberg:

I want to express my appreciation for all you have done for Mason and congratulate you on your recognition of service. Your talents, efforts and contributions have helped Mason’s success, and the entire Office of the Provost takes pride in your accomplishment and commitment to excellence.

There goes my decade of service at George Mason University.

Eleven Years at Scalia Law School

Today marks my 11th year working at George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School. As Director of Design and Web Services, I wear many hats, but my main focus is the law school website. It feels as if I had adopted and raised my own child and watched it grow from a toddler to a teenager.

When I first inherited the site from my predecessor, I had never worked with MODX before. The site was still running on the old codebase from MODX Evolution. To familiarize myself with the platform, I ripped the site apart and built everything from the ground up. I cleaned up the back-end codes and made sure the front-end markups were well structured. At the time when responsive design was still new, I implemented responsive layout starting with mobile first and progressive enhancement.

All the work I put in from the start had paid off in the long run. As the site grew over the years with countless iterations and several redesigns, the solid foundation on the backend, the clean markups on the frontend, and the visual presentation never spawned out of control. Under my watch, I maintained and nurtured every part of the site. I valued our visitors and respected their privacy. I pushed back when being asked to implement third-party trackers, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google. I enhanced the user experience based on user studies, accessibility guidelines, and usability recommendations. I improved the design with new technologies such as CSS Grid and web fonts. I worked with developers to upgrade from MODX Evolution to MODX Revolution. I worked with the MODX team to migrate to MODX Cloud.

The site had been through different visions from three deans. The first dean and my supervisor gave me the freedom to shape the look and feel of the website. The second dean entrusted me to build a branding system for his vision: Learn. Challenge. Lead. Based on the University’s branding guidelines, typefaces, and colors, I implemented bright colors, bold typography, and inviting graphics. The site was vibrant and distinctive, yet still compliant with the Mason branding. The third and current dean wanted to tone down the look and feel. We went through several redesigns and ended up with what we have now.

Designing and developing the law school website has been not only my profession, but also my passion. I loved the web when I first discovered it many years ago and that love hasn’t changed. Between my professional and personal projects, I want to continue to make the web a better experience without tracking, wasting time, and frustrating users. my hope is to continue to maintain and to grow the law school website for many years to come.

The Case for Refreshing the Mason Brand

The Mason brand has served the university well. It communicates our key brand messages including academic quality, innovation, diversity, entrepreneurial spirit, and accessibility. Mason is evolving, but its visual identity is dating. To be a competitive school, Mason should consider refreshing its brand. The Mason visual identity needs to be simplified and unified.

The current University Logo is too complicated. The full lockup takes up too much space, especially when it is combined with a unit name (Antonin Scalia Law School). Although the M alone has some issues with the quill, it has the potential to carry the Mason brand like the swoosh for Nike, the apple for Apple, and the Siren for Starbucks. When the University Logo is simplified, the unit name could be better unified and balanced.

The Mason typefaces are over the place and they show no personality. The unit names are set in TheSans and that’s it. I don’t see it being used anywhere else. Myriad Pro and Minion Pro are the primary typefaces. Adobe Garamond and Helvetica Neue were thrown into the mix for no apparent reasons. Myriad and Minion are well-designed typefaces, but they are ubiquitous. They were designed to be neutral; therefore, they lack personality. Anyone who uses Adobe products would have access to these two font families. In fact, they are the default fonts for graphic tools including InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. I have been noticing universities, such as Northeastern University and The New School, commissioning their own typefaces. I wonder if Mason would invest in custom typefaces to give the brand a unique typographic voice.

As for the colors, I would like to see the change for its primary colors or the expansion beyond the green and gold. Here are the notes on colors according to the brand guidelines:

Use Mason green and gold as the primary colors in your layouts.

Use secondary colors in combination with our primary colors to express the many facets of Mason.

Do not use secondary colors alone or as the primary color in branded materials.

Apparently we are not adhering to the guideline because the green and gold are so hard to work with.

Interview Questions

I found Sam Daugherty’s questions to ask during the interview process to be helpful; therefore, I wanted to repost them here:

Task-related Questions

  • What is the skills gap you’re trying to fill?
  • What are the ideal skills or experiences for someone in this role?
  • What does the day-to-day look like?
  • What are some high-level problems I’ll be working to solve?
  • What are the backlog problems I’ll need to solve?

Job-related questions

  • Is this a backfill position or a growth position?
  • What does success look like in this role?
  • What does collaboration and communication look like on your team and between teams/departments?
  • What is the average timeframe allotted to research/design a solution?
  • What is the makeup of the team and how are tasks divided?

Long-term questions

  • What kind of growth opportunities are there?
  • Where do you see this role/team in 3 years?
  • Are there opportunities for mentorship?
  • Do you see the team growing and what sort of growth do you expect?

Company questions

  • Describe the culture of the team and the company for me?
  • What made you want to work for [company] and what’s kept you here?
  • How often do you have to work late, on weekends, or feel compelled to respond after hours?
  • What does taking time off look like and are you expected to respond to messages during vacation?
  • Are there opportunities to travel and meet the team in person (if remote)?

More tips in the comment section from Jared Spool:

If you open with “When you hire the right person to join your team, what would y’all be able to accomplish that you’re not accomplishing right now?,” you’re showing that you’re very interested in the team’s success. It gives you an opening for many of the follow-up questions.

Chances are, from the answer, you won’t even have to ask many of them. For example, you’ll likely learn if the reason they’re hiring is that there’s a skill gap or that they’re just shorthanded. You’ll learn if it’s work on the backlog or if these are high-level problems being solved (or high-level problems on the backlog).

You can even ask what they’ve tried in the past to accomplish these things and explore what didn’t quite work out. That’ll give you good insights into the history of “how did you get to this moment” (something that lots of folks forget to ask about), which can be quite telling about how the team and organization works.

With every follow-up question, you can mentally build up a case as to what’s in your history that would make you an ideal candidate. You can wrap things up with a summary of that.

Self Review for 2021-2022

It’s the time of the year when I dread the most. This year, I have a new supervisor and I also have to review the Web Content Specialist who is reporting to me. I am not good at writing review of my own performance, but I am just going to plow through it. Here we go.

Job Function 1

My main responsibility as Director of Design and Web Services is designing, updating, and maintaining the main law school website.

  1. The contents on the main school website are being updated on a daily basis. I work closely with our Web Content Specialist to make changes according to requests. We also make sure the contents are accurate and accessible.
  2. I make incremental rather than drastic changes to the design of the main law school website. The small changes improved the user experience without catching the users off guard. Redesign is in progress and it is being rolled out in components.
  3. Maintaining the backend server is the crucial responsibility in this role. Keeping the technologies up‐to‐date is essential in longevity as well as security. I implemented content delivery network (CDN) to speed up the site performance and web application firewall (WAF) to prevent hacking attempts.

Job Function 2

My second responsibility is maintaining a network of websites for the Scalia Law community. The WordPress Multisite is powering almost 50 sites ranging from intranets to centers to institutes to faculty members to student organizations to marketing sites. We let stakeholders updating their own sites, but we assist them when they need new functionalities or troubleshooting WordPress issues.

Job Function 3

As Director of Design and Web Services, I serve the Law School community with their websites, print marketing materials, and content updates. I work with outside agencies and vendors on their behalf to make sure they have all the resources (web servers, social media access, analytics) to do their job.


  • I take full responsibility for my role in keeping our web presence attractive, up‐to‐date, accessible, readable, and secured.
  • I take my supervision responsibility to make sure we’re on the same page. For example, our HTML markups and coding must be cleaned, organized and readable. Our content on the web must be clear, accurate, and error‐free.
  • I take full accountability in all of my areas of responsibility in order to meet the mission and goals of the law school and university.

Collaboration and Civility

  • I work closely with everyone at the law school as well as colleagues in the University to provide the highest services to meet the Mason standards.
  • I am a team player and I always listen respectfully to others.


  • I always seek to learn latest web developments.
  • I continue to hone my writing skills.
  • I reach out to colleagues within our department or the university for projects we can collaborate.
  • I always stay on top of new technologies in my field.
  • I seek out new, exciting projects, which benefit the law school and also enhance my self development.

Diversity and Inclusion

  • As a minority member, I understand the important of inclusive and diversity.
  • I listen, respect, and contribute to diversity and inclusivity.
  • I have a strong and deep understanding of the value of diversity and models inclusiveness in working with our diverse staff and all members of the law school and university community.


  • I encourage my web developers and content web specialists to reach their goals. In addition to the work for the law school, I encourage them to take on projects that will help them grow their career.
  • I provide leadership to the law school community in my areas of responsibility. I make sure that my goals for the school’s websites and print projects align with the goals and mission of the law school and university.

Mentors and Coaches

  • I am always opened to help others who need feedback on graphic design and web development.
  • I continue to update the web design and development blog to provide in‐depth documentation on MODX and all of the special features that I have implemented over the years.
  • I also encourage the staff who work for me to contribute to the blog, which allows them to improve their analytical skills.


  • I look for resources offered by the university before considering outside vendors.
  • I maintain confidential information related to work.
  • I maintain the highest integrity in his work and interactions with others and adheres to law school and university core values.
  • I hold myself to the highest ethical and professional standards and encourages and inspires others who work with me to do the same.

Director of Design & Web Services

I updated my bio for on the Law School website

Donny Trương leads the Scalia Law digital experience with the focus on accessibility and usability. He takes the helm of the Law School content management system, MODX, to ensure security and scalability. He took the initiative to recode and redesign the main Law School website from the ground up with the mobile-first approach when responsive design was still in its early stage of adoption.

Trương has spent over a decade at Scalia Law building the brand, transforming the user experience, and improving the backend codes. In collaboration with the university information technology services, he heads the WordPress Multisite project for the Law School community. Since launched, the WordPress Multisite platform has powered over 50 sites ranging from research centers to economic institutes to student organizations to faculty personal websites. In addition to digital designs, Trương extends his creative services to print materials designing brochures, postcards, large-scale banners for the school departments including admissions offices, research centers, institutes, and events.

With more than 20 years of designing and developing web experiences, Trương has a deep passion for typography. When the web began to support typefaces beyond the system fonts, he could not find much resources for designing with web fonts; therefore, he wrote Professional Web Typography to fill the void. He also recognized the missing diacritics for Vietnamese in typefaces. As a result, he published Vietnamese Typography to expand language support in type design. Since the release of the web book, he has been working with type designers and foundries around the world to include Vietnamese diacritics in their type families.

Trương received an MA in graphic design from George Mason University School of Art and a BA in digital art and multimedia design from La Salle University. When not designing digital experiences, he enjoys ice skating, rollerblading, and skiing with his family.

Two-Month Feedback

The new web content specialist has been working with me for two months and she asked me for feedback. I couldn’t be happier. She hit the ground running and learned all the responsibilities. She is reliable, detail oriented, and independent. In addition to making updates according to requests, she spots issues including broken links, spelling errors, and outdated markups.

The truth was that I wanted to hire her after the round of interviews. She was highly recommended by a friend of mine. I had to go with the committee to hire someone else even though I predicted that she wouldn’t stay for too long. She left after nine months. Before she left, she trained her successor.

The current web content specialist had been out of the workforce in a while to raise her kids. As her kids grow older, she wants to get back to work for a bit. This position fits her schedule because I offered her flexibility. My management style is easygoing. She is working 100% remotely and we are working well together. My colleagues, including my new boss, have complimented her on her work as well. I hope she will stay for a while. I really appreciate what she has contributed to our team.

New Boss

The restructuring is inevitable. I will be taken out of the library and reporting to the Assistant Dean of Strategic Communications and Marketing. I have been part of the library staff for ten years and have always enjoyed working with my colleagues, but it makes more sense that I will be part of the communications and marketing department.

My new supervisor is also new to the school. His position was just created recently and he needed a team to support him. Both myself and my web content specialist will be on his team. He will also be hiring a Director of Communications to work on external communications.

I have been working with him for a few months and he is great as a coworker. I hope he will be an easygoing supervisor as well. I stayed around for a decade because my supervisors were flexible, understanding, and hands-off. I hope those things won’t change. I am looking forward to the new change.