Archives for posts with tag: Startups

The most fun a designer can have in their early careers is working at a bootstrapped tech startup.

It’s really a blast building a product from the ground up. As the company’s sole designer, it’s your responsibility to make sure what you ship is beautiful and intuitive. But when you’re the only artsy kid in the room, things can get tough. Here’s some hard-learned tips that have kept me going through the ups and downs.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, Don’t Stop.

If you work at a startup, don’t let me catch you at the coffee shop without your moleskine. A doodle a day keeps creative block at bay. Keep pushing, iterating, and thinking of how to do it better.

Stuck? Ask for feedback from your coworkers. Hit print, make four copies: one for yourself, two for sharing with coworkers to take notes on, and one for the final decisions after you’ve synthesized the results.

Once you’re done with paper, pencil, and photoshop mock-ups, it’s time to prototype, get feedback, iterate, and repeat. Don’t ever stop. If your product is still under development, everything can change completely at any moment. Being able to throw your designs away and start over is essential to your success.

Go Outside Your Comfort Zone.

Learn a new thing or two, balance your visual design with interaction design. Codecademy and Code School are great places to learn some javascript and jQuery. If that’s over your head, Jessica Hiche’s Don’t Fear the Internet is an amazing resource to learn some HTML and CSS basics. Need a text editor? Go with Sublime Text. If your pixel polishing is lacking spend some time on Dribbble and Behance. Whatever you do, don’t get trapped in your own little design bubble—push your own limits and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your skills improve! Which leads us to…

Challenge Yourself When Others Don’t.

The hardest part is that your decisions will never be challenged enough. There’s no senior designer or creative director who will throw away your designs and tell you to start from scratch.

Sometimes, the team will be enamored with your very first version of a design. Don’t let it go to your head—you’re not done just yet. The only person who is able to really keep refining the design is you. And you need to. If you don’t, mediocrity will result. Great design doesn’t happen on accident. It doesn’t happen on the first try, either.

iterate

When you’re pushing a design, wherever you stop—that’s what the product will look like. Sometimes feedback from your non-designer coworkers is not enough. This is why user feedback is so important. There’s no better way to tell if your designs work or not then to test them on real people.

Some days, the juices are flowing, the team is mind-melding, and everything falls into place. Engineers are executing perfectly, and you feel a sense of wonder at how much your team can accomplish in just one day.

Some days, there’s simply no wind in the sails. Go for a walk, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and draw it up again from scratch.

Startup Life isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worth it.

—Will

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, and on Dribbble too!

What do you think? How do you go about being the sole designer at your company?

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Vine has been around for just under a week now, and it’s shaping up to be quite a big deal. Here’s why.

1. It’s the easiest app to use, possibly ever.

Any five-year old could figure out how to use Vine. By implementing the “touch the screen” mechanic as the primary action, Vine makes creating fun video loops as simple as possible. It literally could not get any simpler. Did I mention it’s fun, too? The instant gratification of creating something cool, interesting, beautiful, or just silly is enough to convert any skeptic to an evangelist in 5 minutes.

2. Make friends with people who share your passions

I’m an avid skateboarder. A quick #skateboarding search in vine reveals there are dozens of other techies who skateboard too! Anyone who takes the time and effort to create a cool video about a mutual interest is just a friend you haven’t met yet.

3. Insanely simple integration

The first place you saw Vine was probably on Twitter. That’s because they’re from the same vine. (hah!) Twitter acquired Vine, and made sure integration was as seamless as possible. It takes about 3 seconds to embed a vine on a web page.

From twitter, simply find the tweet the Vine is posted in, click the ‘…’ icon for more options, click ‘Embed Tweet’, and copy/paste the generated code into your web page or blog post and BOOM:

Instant Vine on your blog! Check out an example of embedded Vines on the official Vine blog.

4. Constraints result in creativity

There’s been a lot of criticism about the 6-second time limit. But when you hit a wall, creative people build ladders. And when there’s nothing to build with, they find a way to run up the wall anyway:

By forcing constraints, Vine gets users to think creatively and come up with lots of cool stuff. Don’t believe me? Watch Justvined (allows you to watch 20 vines at a time live as they are posted) for a few minutes and try not to have your mind blown. Want a one-at-a-time vine experience? Check out VinePeek.

In conclusion,

Vine is different, fresh, fun to use, and plays nice with the best communication platform in the world (Twitter). What’s not to love?

Follow me on Vine, @willdjthrill

And on twitter while you’re at it!

Happy Vining!

For the past 9 months I’ve been working at Feathr, a startup in Gainesville, FL. We’re working on changing the way people exchange contact information, bringing personal and professional networking into the digital age. Imagine digital business cards that automatically sync to your email contacts, address book, allow you to automatically follow-up with people you meet, and live-update in real time. This is what we’re building with Feathr.

Feathr: Simply Better Networking

The first thing you notice about Feathr is the beautiful user interface. Check out our video at feathrapp.com

We’ve built the initial version with PhoneGap to get a proof of concept and build users. Right now we’re in the home stretch of a crowd-funding campaign that will allow us to continue bootstrapping and finish the Android and iOS native rewrites of the app.

It’s an exciting time to be building something cool. If you believe we’re onto the future of networking, then help us spread the word! Share our crowd-funding campaign and follow us on Twitter for the latest updates!