Meet Ben: Our Wondrous Web Wizard

  • Published:
    Nov 30, 2022
  • Category:
    Apprentice All-Stars
“I enjoy bringing the work of my team info focus and onto the page. It’s a collaborative process that allows me to use my expertise to serve others and help them meet their goals.”

Get to Know Ben

What motivates you? Being of service to others. I enjoy bringing the work of my team info focus and onto the page. It’s a collaborative process that allows me to use my expertise to serve others and help them meet their goals.

I also enjoy bringing the work of others into focus, and onto the page. It’s a collaborative process, and it allows me to connect with smart, inspiring people on a daily basis who help me to constantly learn and grow.

What’s your work superpower? I always want to leave things better than I found them. In that sense, I’ve found the perfect career, because a website is never “done.” It is always evolving and changing into something different. Each day provides an opportunity to improve something, even a little bit.

Another element of this is feedback. I depend on thoughtful feedback from my team and colleagues to create work we’re all proud of. When I design or build something for my team, I want them to feel totally comfortable letting me know what's not working and how we can improve it. Having the mindset of leaving something better than you found it is one of the keys to being open to feedback.

Ben atop the LEGO House in Billund, Denmark, and clinging to the top of the steeple of the Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen.

What’s your non-work superpower? Patience. This is where work and life blend together; and I’ve worked hard throughout the past 10 years to become more patient in my life.

All too often we’re in a “rush” to arrive at a certain point in our career or place in life, without valuing the progress that gets us there or reassessing our goals along the way to ask if they're still serving us. Most things in life have come quite late to me compared to my peers, so in that sense, patience was forced upon me, and now I'm deeply grateful that it was.

What’s your take on how to achieve work/life balance? This is a hard topic for me to crack. I’ve found a career, job, and team that play to my strengths while still pushing me to grow. Work is deeply fulfilling to me, and not just a means to an end or a countdown to retirement. I guess the flipside of this is the risk of letting your job become your identity. I grew up in an era that framed Workaholism as a virtue, and now hopefully we’ve learned how destructive that thinking is. Work is just a slice of the pie.

I thrive at work when other aspects of my life are being nurtured: hobbies, rest, exercise, relationships. When you have work/life balance, you’re much better at both.

Ben at the mixing desk of the legendary Windmill Lane Recording Studio, Dublin, and with husband Nate at World Pride 2019 NYC.

Where do you like to travel? I live in a relatively flat part of the world, so anywhere with mountains and hills top my list. On that note, we visited Yukon and part of Alaska this year, and it’s quickly jumped to the top of my most-recommended places to see. My other most recommended places so far are The Azores, Australia, and... Pittsburgh! I love Pittsburgh and would move there tomorrow if I could.

How do you spend your free time? First, the most valuable use of my time is to spend it with the people I love, especially my husband, family, and friends. My husband and I travel a lot, and have visited over 30 countries so far.

This feeds my oldest hobby, which is photography. I built a Flickr photo library to house my travel photos, with 1,996 photos and counting!

My dad taught me photography decades ago (with film cameras, of course!) and I never would have guessed that photography would be digitized and democratized as it has. It's something I do totally for myself — I make images that spark an emotion in me, and if anyone else happens to like the results, I’m completely humbled. And photography is what introduced me to the intersection of creativity and technology, so I can draw a straight line from that to my career in web design and development.


My other lifelong passion is music, and I thank my mom for that. There was always music playing in my house growing up. I don't play any instruments, but listening to music is a constant in my life (my year-in-review tells me I listened to about 70,000 minutes of music this past year, or 50 days' worth, which still feels low!). Music is the backbone of my work, as well. I need to spend a lot of time in a deep-dive on my projects, and music is what gets me into that zone.

Apprentice Deep Dive: Ben’s Life Science Glossary

For the past several months, you’ve been working on building Apprentice’s life science glossary. Can you tell us about that experience? Building our glossary presented a few unique challenges. It’s filled with high-value content that needs to be delivered to readers in a way that’s useful, relevant, and easy to find.

So it had to be simple and very clean, but still feel like Apprentice. It was critical to get the typography and layout just right so that it basically “got out of the way.” As soon as you over-design something that’s meant to be a reference or a resource, you’re going to lose people.

Apprentice's new life science glossary — science never looked better.

I’m really, really happy with how it turned out from a UX perspective, but the most satisfying aspect of building the glossary was on the code side. I structured the code in a way that makes it really easy for search engines to understand the content and serve it to the users who are looking for this kind of industry information.

We’re already seeing positive traction with the glossary, and several of our terms are now ranking on the first page of Google. Best of all, working on this initiative has naturally given me ideas for how to elevate the rest of the site moving forward!


Words of Wisdom: Ben’s Guiding Advice

There are a few pieces of advice and wisdom that have stuck over the years:

  1. Take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously. I started my career in youth outreach, and this was a guiding principle. I’ve carried it forward through my career and it continues to serve me well.
  2. Don’t fall in love with your ideas. I heard this from the graphic designer, Chip Kidd, at a presentation many years ago. His point was that we’re wired to think our ideas are so special — so good — because they’ve come from within. Ideas are free! Challenge them, question them, and their quantity and quality will increase.
  3. OHIO: Only Handle It Once. Someone taught me this years ago and it changed how effective I was in so many areas. I fell in love with cleaning (and being organized in general) when I learned this motto, and I now practice it with all of those hundred small tasks that come with knowledge work. It’s how I keep my inbox empty almost all of the time.
  4. When you learn, teach. When you get, give. I just recently heard this Maya Angelou quote, and it hit at just the right time in my life. I’ve been very lucky in life, and I can’t stop at simply being grateful. The rewards come from sharing your blessings with others.

Fun Facts About Ben: Rapid Fire Edition

We asked, Ben answered. Read on to learn some more about where Ben’s from and where hes headed next.

When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in web publishing? Like everything in life, it came late to me! I actually started my career working for nonprofit organizations and charities — especially in HIV/AIDS, sexual health, and LGBTQ+ outreach arenas. Then when I turned 30, I started asking myself, “What’s next?”

As I was considering my next move, someone I knew mentioned the idea of web design and development to me. It was just emerging as a career at that time, and it really seemed to tie together all of my different interests. Ultimately, web publishing allowed me to merge what I found rewarding and what I could do well. It also meant a lot of self-guided learning which I’m wired for.

“In the months ahead, I want to create a better UX for our audience. This way, when readers land on our website, they don’t just find the right information, they also enjoy it and leave feeling inspired.” 

What about your job inspires you daily? The people! There’s no question about it — the Apprentice team is made up of geniuses. Not only that, but everyone is so kind, welcoming, and encouraging. This inspires me to show up every day and be of service to these insanely talented individuals, and learn from them too.

In Rio de Janeiro and Vieques, Puerto Rico.

What excites you the most about working here at Apprentice? Playing a positive role in helping people. Apprentice is going to change the lives of patients around the world in the years to come — the technology is revolutionary. I’ve been invited to play a part in building this future, and doing so alongside these colleagues is deeply fulfilling.

“We’re at the cusp of something unbelievable. And I’m so humbled and honored to be a part of it.”

What are you looking forward to tackling in the months ahead? Two things spring to mind: Evolving our design and continuing to make space for really engaging content. My goal is to make sure our web properties are expressing what I see in this company every day: work that is forward-thinking, human-centric, deeply intelligent, thoughtful, and precise.

On the beach with family in Georgian Bay, Ontario and with husband Nate in Teotihuacan, Mexico.

If you had a time machine but could only use it once, would you go back in time or into the future? Where and when would you go? I would go back and visit myself as a young person. Life was hard when I was a teenager, and I’d tell myself to take a breath, and explain how great life will be. From the people I’ll meet to the places I’ll go and experiences I’ll have — it all gets easier, and life turns out great!

Ben with his family. He apologizes for the 80s aesthetic, and is shocked and saddened that macramé is somehow a thing again.

A Bouquet of Praise: Tributes from Ben’s Team

Ben’s awesomeness defies description. In other words, hes ineffable.

But we had to try to get it on the page — so we asked his team to pitch in and share their experiences working with Ben! Read on for tributes from Ben’s Marketing teammates.

“Ben’s the man! He’s got killer design skills and a fun attitude. His incredible effort on our company website lifts up the entire team and gives us a strong foundation for our SDR efforts.

We appreciate everything he does. It’s wonderful to have such a talented, passionate, and creative web designer on our Marketing team!”

— Gustavo Reyes, SDR Team Lead

“As a numbers guy, I tend to think in terms of data. So I’ll share some of my favorite website performance stats that are all thanks to Ben Houghton and the incredible work he does!”

  • 675% increase in search impressions across 6 months
  • Doubled site traffic in just 3 months after onboarding
  • >100% increase in mobile usable pages
  • 85% increase in time on site
  • Top 1% of websites with a site technical score of 99%

— Jackson Mattox, Senior Marketing Operations Manager

“I’m pretty sure Ben’s got magic powers. How else could he build such flawless content at warp speed, all while making it look easy?

In his time at Apprentice, Ben has absolutely transformed our digital presence. His UX best practices and keen eye for design allow our site visitors to easily find, scan, navigate, and best of all, enjoy, our digital content.

Ben brings the perfect blend of precision, poise, and positivity to everything he touches. He’s not only insanely talented — he’s imaginative, hardworking, and best of all, kindhearted. I’m honored and deeply grateful to work with someone of Ben’s caliber. My only wish is that I’d met him sooner!”

— Kelly Stewart, Content Marketing Director

“Ben is a true asset to the Marketing team. He’s not only extremely knowledgeable and great at what he does, but he’s personable as well.

Ben’s wit and upbeat personality make everyday collaboration enjoyable, easy, and fun, which is so important when you are working for a fast-paced, high-growth company like Apprentice.”

— Kristen Kucks, Director of Communications

“Where to even begin? Ben is incredibly passionate about what he does, and it shows in everything he does and every interaction you have with him. I value that he shows up and always gives 110%. It’s super motivating to be surrounded by someone like that.

He’s fantastic to bounce ideas off of, and he’s very process-oriented which would explain why he absolutely crushes it at his job. Marketing is oh so lucky to have him be part of our team!”

— Michele Studhalter, Senior Demand Generation Manager

“The technical term for Ben is ‘monster.’ He’s not only able to turn around beautiful designs at record speeds, but his technical prowess has positioned us in the top 1% of all websites in the short time he’s been at Apprentice.

As anyone in engineering knows, developing is like an iceberg. Visually engaging UI is obviously important, but the bulk of the work is underneath — the back-end work you don’t even see. And that’s where Ben really shines.

Last but certainly not least, he’s always looking for ways to add value to the team. Ben exemplifies our core Apprentice values: collaboration, dedication, ingenuity, and working across silos to help everyone succeed.”

— Nathan Anderson, Director of Demand Generation

Are You Our Next Apprentice Spotlight?

Want to work with brilliant web designers like Ben so he can spin your content into digital gold? Explore careers at Apprentice.

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