About Chris Wallace
Design Executive & Leader of Remote Teams
As Vice President of Experience Design at 10up, I lead a distributed multi-disciplinary design team building enterprise-grade websites and digital tools for content publishers and Fortune 500 companies.
I have been an agency leader for 10 years in the open source WordPress community. I am experienced both in client services and product design and development. Some of the products I’ve developed are commercial WordPress themes, plugins, and UI kits.
I co-founded Lift UX, a boutique design agency that pioneered second screen apps for television shows like The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad, earning an Emmy nomination in 2015.
What motivates me? First, I love giving designers the tools to grow and thrive in life and business. Second, I want to create useful products for people around the world. And finally, I seek to build diverse teams who create positive impact together.
What’s my approach to building effective design teams? Designers work well with clear expectations, autonomy, and alignment toward a common goal. Combine those with user-centered, collaborative design methods and teams thrive. When hiring, I look for people who understand how to find the right problem then solve it in the best way. That means understanding the people who have the problem and how they go about their daily lives. Building this foundation forces designers to empathize and create only useful things.
The Whole Story
I began my design career in 1997 as a technology-curious teenager using a pirated copy of Macromedia Flash and Dreamweaver. Learning these tools was a creative outlet for me, as I simply wanted to use them to create fun animations and websites. I eventually got into MySpace and Xanga customization with HTML and CSS, fueling even more curiosity and love for design and technology.
I later began building websites for just about anyone who needed one including my church and family friends. In college, I entered my first partnership as a designer at Nexdesign Studios from 2002 to 2005. Our team of five created websites for churches, musicians, and non-profits.
I enrolled in and began attending Southwest Missouri State University in pursuit of a degree in Graphic Design but was forced to drop out in my first semester after being diagnosed with stage two testicular cancer. I moved back to St. Louis, underwent surgery and began chemotherapy treatment at St. Luke’s Hospital over the next few months.
In 2005, I began my first job out of college as Webmaster at Saint Louis Christian College, though my responsibilities were much wider than that. As web content owner, I was responsible for the design, development, and maintenance of the college’s website and all marketing and visual communications—including a quarterly full-color newsletter, banner ads, magazine ads, posters, brochures, and web graphics / applications. In my tenure, the school experienced 60% growth and by the next school year, the campus was filled to capacity with a total growth nearing 200%.
My next role was E-Commerce Website Designer at MonsterCommerce in 2006. I designed custom e-commerce websites for store owners. I managed each project myself, working directly with clients to brand and launch their stores over a period of just two-to-four weeks each. I was awarded Designer of the Month and Top E-commerce Designer and delivered between $20,000-30,000 per month in revenue.
During this time, I partnered with a co-worker to establish our own e-commerce website, MyLibros.com, selling Spanish books directly to consumers and schools around the world. We grew revenue over a period of two years and successfully exited soon after.
In 2009, I co-founded Lift UX, assuming the role of Principal Creative where our vision was to build a user-centered designed company based on simple design and quality engineering. In just the first few years, we worked with companies like The Next Web, IFC, AMC tv, Sundance Channel on major redesigns of their primary websites, as well as various one-off projects. Two of our most notable ones with AMC led to multiple Emmy Award nominations for The Walking Dead Story Sync and Mad Men: The Fan Cut, two cutting-edge interactive web properties.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In 2010, our company launched Designmoo, a website for sharing free design resources and soon after acquired another popular design freebie website called 365psd. Combined, they became go-to sources of design assets and UI kits, with a combined 2 million page impressions per month and thousands of daily downloads. We monetized the platforms via digital advertising, subscriptions, and commercial UI kits. In 2013, we sold both web properties.
We also launched UpThemes, a commercial WordPress theme company with a focus on content publishing and storytelling themes. We then acquired another theme provider, ChurchThemes.net, adding it to our portfolio and releasing a new line of themes for churches and religious organizations. In 2015, we launched Faithmade, a hosted church website platform based on WordPress, utilizing themes and plugins from our other product companies.
In 2017, my business partner and I exited our remaining product companies fully and accepted an offer to merge Lift UX into 10up, the premier agency building custom WordPress-powered websites for content publishers and Fortune 500 companies. I accepted a role as Vice President of Experience Design leading a growing team of designers, strategists, and copywriters.
In my time, our design team has grown from six to nearly twenty. I currently oversee design delivery, strategy, and operations. The team’s design capabilities have expanded steadily across design research, motion, illustration, content strategy, and UX writing.
I’ve learned a lot about what makes a great leader, how to motivate and inspire others, shaping effective organizations, and managing through change.