Andy Birch, Designer
I know design systems are something of a product shibboleth, so I’m not even going to try to deconstruct the discourse here. But I really like thinking about how to make design work, as both time and the volume of people involved scale up. How do you keep it together? How do you adapt? Who gets a say in it?
Jina outlines three different governance models for running a design system, and I’m thinking back to how it applies to the teams I’ve been a part of. How did we work? Who were the decision makers? How might we have operated better, and consequently done better work over time? I don’t have any answers yet—but maybe being conscious of a system’s workings is enough to do a little better moving forward.
This'll be my last Mojo roundup. Been a heck of a ride—stay rad, gentlepals ✌️🌚
Chapman Bettis, Designer
Freelancing is hard, and starting your own agency is even harder (or so I hear!). I’ve talked with many designers who want to start working independently but are overwhelmed with the unknowns. How much should I charge for my work? How much work could I handle in a month? Could I make enough to support myself or a small team?
While there’s plenty of blog posts out there to learn from, a few small agencies like Gardener.nyc and Sanctuary Computer have taken things a step further and published all their books online, giving us a look at the inner workings of running an independent technology studio. It's a generous move, and hopefully will encourage more studios to find ways to remove barriers to the industry.
Jesse Hoyos, Designer
I love a simple and focused application. Among the many developers making these kinds of apps, Sindre Sorhus is one of the best in the game. This week he released this simple "time awareness" app, and I've really been enjoying using it. I have tried in the past to use the pomodoro method while working, but for some reason it never stuck. Pandan's approach to this is a lot less dogmatic, it simply tracks how long youve been active on your computer and optionally sends you gentle reminders at an interval you select. This casual approach helps me keep track of how I partition my time without feeling like I'm racing the clock.
Daniel Wilson, Developer
It's common when I'm learning something new to be in a situation where I am out of my depth. I've encountered a problem that is inexplicable and I have no idea of which direction to go in to better my understanding. I call this "getting stuck" and because I'm always learning something new in programming, I encounter it often! This talks about that feeling from a mathematician's perspective. Specifically Andrew Wiles, who spent seven years working on a proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. He explains that it is important for mathematicians to be comfortable with feeling stuck, because it happens often, and the same applies to programmers. When I get stuck it is still frustrating, but I've learned over time that a computer problem will always yield if you persist long enough. It may take a long time, but computers are just machines following directions and they are pretty easy to outsmart.
(Okay, except for the provably unsolvable problems, but at least we know they're unsolvable!)
Matt Rossi, Design Director
Back in 2015 we put together a site to recap our accomplishments throughout the year. We really liked the look of low poly art and decided that would be the direction we'd go. Each day we had a stat and a piece of art we hand made in Illustrator. The style was easy to replicate day after day and it was a fun way to involve other folks who were not designers in the creation process.
If you're into the look of low poly art check out this app by Georg Fischer which basically does everything we did with zero effort. You can even download your results as an svg to tweak things further. I enjoyed my time creating these assets by hand with the rest of the team, but this app is really great.