56 posts tagged working well


My dad has a saying, “You get what you intend, not what you hope for.” How many things in our lives are we actually intentional about, though? In the creative (and development) world, I consistently see studios grow beyond their optimal size. Our culture rewards it, and often our internal drive is to be bigger because we’re told that bigger is better. But is it?

I haven’t been distracted by pushing a boulder up the wrong hill. I get to focus on doing really great work for excellent clients.

Like Berger & Föhr, I’ve been intentional about operating as a shop of one—I’m a bit of a design and development multi-tool. Some projects I team up with others (like Berger & Föhr) and other projects I handle by myself. I may not be this size forever, but it has been an intentional choice and a lot of rewarding things have come from it. The biggest bonus, though, is simply that I haven’t been distracted by pushing a boulder up the wrong hill. I get to focus on doing really great work for excellent clients. And, contrary to popular belief, my access to bigger and better projects has often come as a result of my practice size, not at the expense of it.

How intentional are you about the size and goals of your business?


I’m with Ingrid: I see a growing movement of people who value craft and quality over price and immediate availability or convenience. That’s not to say that we all have to work as individuals or build small things, though. I believe it’s a harder challenge to scale good craftsmanship, but companies like Apple show us it’s possible.

It’s partly my personality, but I take a lot of solace in approaching my work with a craft method—as a craftsperson. It’s a perspective that allows me to take a deep breath and take on work with a balance of meticulous detail and function. A good craftsperson pursues quality and aesthetic, but also know when to pay attention to value and how something works.

New Shiny!

Back when I was riding and (poorly) racing bikes, my riding buddies and I always had one or two acquaintances that were the gear-heads: willing to buy any latest hot-new-shiny that the industry had thrown at us. We knew what they didn’t. Shaving a couple grams of weight off your bike does no good if you didn’t get out and ride it every day. We all loved bike tech, but usually these guys at the extremes were outliers. Unfortunately, in the tech industry, I think the number of folks distracted by the latest shiny tech is greater than the ones focused on just getting work done.

(via @chadfowler)

Enabling Creativity


I’m not sure if I agree with the filmmaker’s implication that it’s always our clients’ needs and deadlines that prevent creativity, but overall, the exercise with the children is fascinating. Creativity needs time and space.

Testimony of Mike Rowe

Most of us are lucky enough to not need to work a physical job, but that doesn’t mean the work of a physical craftsperson isn’t absolutely vital or society. I think Mike’s right. We’ve discounted this type of work too much. Why don’t we still teach Shop in high school? Why do we perpetuate the myth that vocational school and apprenticeships are somehow less worthy? The world might be more global, but the downsides of that globalization are placing a premium on local craftsmanship and local products.

The New Design

(emphasis mine)

I agree with Naz, but I’m perplexed as to the label. Why is it “New” design? Isn’t this just design? Hasn’t this always been what a good designer is, well, good at? I’m not picking on him directly either, because I can see why this seems like a revelation. I remember, as a much younger designer (I’d still like to consider myself young, if you’ll grant me that), having to fight for involvement in strategy or surprising clients and coworkers when I showed a bit of business acumen and understanding of the task at hand outside of the purview of just making it “pretty”—and this was long before my main workload was comprised of web and software applications. If we’re not solving problems, what are we doing? What have we been doing?

Fuck You. Pay Me.

This is getting linked to from everywhere, so, if you haven’t seen it yet take this as a sign that you should probably watch it. I won’t say much, other than that I’ve made many of these mistakes and I’ve also had good contracts save my ass a couple times.

It’s Saturday and I bet you can find 40 minutes to watch or listen. If you are in client services or have ever contemplated going out on your own, you owe it to yourself. Like Monteiro, one of my biggest pet-peeves is that designers generally avoid the business of business. We talk big talk about wanting to do good work, but part of doing good work is handling the business end professionally. We owe it to ourselves—and to our clients.

Why I Run a Flat Company

Rotating management duties weekly? I like this idea.

It’s a Matter of Time: Massively Accelerating Design Projects

Another great post on client work from Mule Design.

(via @nzkoz)

Bootstrapped, Profitable, & Proud: Coudal

Even if you like your job (and your clients) Coudal’s profile in the 37signals Bootstrapped, Profitable, & Proud series is a good read.

Coudal’s firm was one of the first on my radar, back before I even started gb Studio. I remember passing their videos around the office, admiring how awesome the Jewelboxing line of products was, and wishing I’d thought of The DECK.