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Design Details

Brian Lovin, Marshall Bock

A weekly conversation about design process and culture. Hosted by Marshall Bock and Brian Lovin.
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This week, we talk about the uncanny sameness of the web and debate uniqueness in site design. In News, we discuss the pros and cons of sharing your early, in-progress work with non-designer colleagues. And as always, we share a couple cool things, including an immersive gaming experience and a new feature proposal for React.


Self-sponsor:

This week's episode was brought to you by the Spec Job Board
If you're a designer or a developer, or if you're looking to hire one, check out the Job Board on Spec.fm. With listings at $100/month, it's super affordable to find your next hire through Spec.


Follow-up:
News:
One Cool Thing:
Design Details on the Web:

BYEEEEEEE!

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Today we caught up with Priyanka Kodikal, a product designer currently working at WhatsApp. In this episode we dig into Priyanka's work at WhatsApp and what it's like shipping to more than a billion people around the world. We also learn about Priyanka's journey from India to WhatsApp, and the winding path it took to land at her dream job.

Priyanka on the web
Sponsors

Thanks to Abstract for sponsoring today's episode!

✨Abstract is a secure version-controlled hub for your design files.

Salespeople have Salesforce, Developers have Github, Marketers have Marketo and now designers have Abstract.

You can try Abstract free for one month! Just visit www.goabstract.com for more information.

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Today we sat down with Athyuttam Reddy, a designer-engineer intern at Figma. We cover so much in this episode, including engineer design hybrid roles, getting a design job as a new grad, landing meaningful internships, becoming jaded, diversity and inclusivity, and so much more.

Come chat with us in our Slack team! Over 5,000 designers and developers have already joined our team, chatting about the latest tools and news in the design world. Each week we also host a community critique with a special guest host. To join our team visit our Slack invite page and we'll send you an invitation!

If you have feedback or suggestions please don’t hesitate to reach out to us on Twitter at @designdetailsfm!

Athyuttam on the web: Show Notes:
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This week, we try to answer one very simple question: what do designers even do all day? In The Sidebar, we discuss when and where to use system defaults versus creating a custom UI.


Golden Ratio Patrons:

Keep track of who's working on what and plan your team's time, from anywhere! Get an accurate view of your team's availability and capacity, set custom work days and hours, schedule a status to let your team know where you're working from, and so much more. Learn more at float.com/designdetails.


Sponsors:

This week we're supported by Webflow! Webflow gives designers the power of code in a visual interface, allowing them to directly build whatever they have in mind without engineers. Webflow’s whole thesis is that designers are used to learning complex visual software like Photoshop, Sketch, Figma, etc., but none of those tools actually output production code.

From creative agencies like IDEO and Ramotion to design-led startups like Lattice and Petal — Webflow gives designers the power to build whatever they have in mind. Learn more at http://wfl.io/designdetails for 10% off annual plans on any new account.

Latest VIP Patrons:

🦗🦗🦗


The Sidebar:

The Sidebar is an exclusive weekly segment for our Patreon supporters. You can subscribe starting at $1 per month for access to full episodes going forward! Sign up at https://patreon.com/designdetails.

In this week's Sidebar, we talk the tradeoffs of using system defaults in your designs. Are defaults boring? Practical? It depends?


Follow up:


Main Topic:

Luke Seeley asks: What do full time designers actually do all day?


Cool Things:

  • Brian shared Cocoon, an app for small group messaging that is just wonderful.
  • Marshall shared Rage Against the Machine, some music to accompany those of you who are raging...against the machine.

Design Details on the Web:


Gwodbye!

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This week, we talk about how to overcome skill gaps. What should you do if you are bad at visual design? What if you can't make icons? Should you play into strengths or develop upon your weaknesses? We explore these topics, and more!

Golden Ratio Patrons:

Are you still using spreadsheets to plan your projects? Float is a resource management software built for creative teams. Add your team’s roles, departments and work hours, schedule time-off, public holidays and remote work days, so you always have the truest view of your team's availability. Learn more at float.com/designdetails.

Latest VIP Patrons:

Huge shoutouts to our latest Very Important Pixels!

  • Sabine
  • Yi He
  • Mo Cups
  • Nicole Tallon
  • Shelley Huang
  • Omid
  • Liz Chen

The Sidebar:

The Sidebar is an exclusive weekly segment for our Patreon supporters. You can subscribe starting at $1 per month for access to full episodes going forward! Sign up at https://patreon.com/designdetails.

In this week's Sidebar we discuss digital gardening, personal knowledge management, and learning in public.

Follow-up:

  • Divya Tak added another point of wastage in low quality software: wastage through over-processing.
  • Yuyang Luo shared their first app design that shows how safe your local area is.
  • Jordan Koschei shared his college startup / side project, Shadoodle. See the pixels.
  • We turned last week's episode into a blog post: Quality Software.
  • Marshall has been tinkering with our audio balance – so far, nobody has noticed...until now?

Tweets:

  • Vincent van der Meulen built a very neat recommendation engine on top of the Design Details website – this is so cool!

Listener Question:

  • Fabio Giolito wanted us to talk about something we said on a recent episode, "I'm not a great graphic designer."
    • Design is a visual medium but there's a misconception that all designers should be good at making pretty things (marketing pages, illustrations, icons, logos...)
    • I love systems and flows, solving problems and designing interfaces. When I try to make a marketing page or logo I feel frustrated and impostor syndrome kicks in.
    • I guess I'm not comfortable with the subjectiveness of visual stuff. You know when something is bad, but the gray area of taste and trends is way too big. While in UX there are more rules and logic involved.

Cool Things:

Design Details on the Web:

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This week, we introduce a new supporter-only show segment, The Sidebar. Each week we'll be sharing a story, pro-tip, shortcut, or design-related cool thing. Supporters on Patreon will hear the first story today!

We also discuss the most over and undervalued design skills, including feedback from folks on Twitter.

And, of course, we share our cool finds of the week!


Golden Ratio Patrons:

We're looking for partners to work with. If your team is hiring, launching a new product, or wants us to get the word out about a new initiative, please get in touch!


Latest VIP Patrons:

Huge shoutouts to our latest Very Important Pixels!

  • Ritu Maghera
  • Jacob Lindström
  • Dave Epstein
  • Dan
  • Omar Hassan
  • Marco
  • Lars Anttila

The Sidebar:

We've been behind on Bonusland, and it's been a challenge for us to catch up. Additionally, we felt like bonus episodes were too infrequent and not compelling enough as a Patreon reward.

This week we're starting a new experiment to make the patron rewards much better. It's a new segment of every episode called The Sidebar. In The Sidebar we will be sharing a story, pro-tip, shortcut, or design-related tidbit.

In today's Sidebar, we talk about Marshall's 8-year anniversary at Google, and what it means to play the long game.

Read more about how we ended up here + the inspiration by way of Michael Knepprath.


Follow-up:

  • Elvin was the only listener who shared screenshots of early work with us - and it was good work!
  • Second call to action: send us your early portfolio work that you're ashamed of!

Listener Question:

  • Paweł Sysiak asks a hat-trick listener question:
  • "What are the most valuable (and overlooked) skills for the entry-level designer and senior designer? The flip side of this question is also interesting. What skills are overvalued for junior and senior designers?"
    • The Mom Test is a great primer on how to ask better research questions.
    • We asked Twitter for ideas, too:
    • T says: "Most valuable for entry: Taste, attention to details, ready to listen, motivation. Senior: ready to learn, adapt, question past experience and delegate"
    • Nathan Lindhal says: "Learning to communicate with stakeholders, peers, etc is an extremely valuable skill. But it would be unfair to expect this from entry level position. But knowing the fundamentals (can this person do the work) and a commitment to improvement are underrated."
    • Ollie hit us with a thread:
      - "I think foundational design skills like typography hierarchy are underrated, whilst beautiful portfolios are overrated."
      - "I think it would be unfair to expect such strong communication skills from all entry-level designers, I think it is perhaps the most valuable skill."
      - "Communication as a skill can be a 'buzz word-y' so i'll specify. I think an entry-level designer that can join a team and comfortably question the status quo and speak out when they are unsure is a highly valuable trait."
      - "In my (limited) experience it takes the weight off of their supporting mid/senior designers. It's also an important component to entry-level designers learning on the job."
    • Emma Gilbert says: "Most valuable: resourcefulness. There are unknowns at some point of every project. If a person can find momentum on their own by seeking out and not waiting for answers, that’s someone I want to work with."
    • Jordan Koschei says: "The ability to communicate clearly verbally, through writing, and through visuals. And the ability to understand and translate between design, engineering, and business concerns. The best designers have some product management DNA too!"

Cool Things:

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This week, we talk about counterintuitive user experiences that designers regularly design for in our day to day work. Let us know what we missed! As always, we catch up on feedback, tweets, and share our cool things of the week: a blog post explaining how to polish an interface, and a YouTube series about first-time reactions.


Golden Ratio Patrons:

We're looking for partners to work with. If your team is hiring, launching a new product, or wants us to get the word out about a new initiative, please get in touch!


Latest VIP Patrons:

Huge shoutouts to our latest Very Important Pixels!

  • Rodrigo Antonio DeLima
  • Arkadiusz Bartnik
  • Hello Hill
  • Steffie
  • Elvin Hu
  • Daniel
  • Mark McEwan

Follow-up:


Tweets:

  • Thijs Bremeesch thinks our podcast is GOLD. We like gooooold.
  • Elvin says we're contributing to ongoing sanity – glad we can help a tiny bit!
  • Ben Dunn is a new fan from New Zealand - welcome to the pod!
  • Katarina Blind says last week's episode made her day. Katarina also bumped us up to $1.28 on the Patreon – you're the best!

News:

  • Apple accidentally leaked AirTags, hopefully coming soon!

Listener Question:


Cool Things:

  • Brian shared Cleaning up form UI, a blog post by @nikitonsky which describes step by step how to polish an interface using grids, spacing, typographic hierarchy, and color.
  • Marshall shared Holden Hardman's YouTube series, My Friend Watches. In this series of video, Holden introduces a friend to new movies and captures the reactions for the internet to en...
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This week, we dissect the newest iPad Pro and its new adaptive cursor, speculating on the future of cursor-touch hybrid interactions. Marshall also shares early feedback on a new prototyping tool and we find escapism in our cool things.


Sponsor:

Fathom Analytics – we love it, we use it, we can't recommend it enough. Fathom is a privacy-first analytics tool that provides all the right information about traffic to your websites. Some of our favorite features:

  • Fathom doesn't use cookies, which means you can skip the GDPR notice
  • The data it collects is simple and straightforward, meaning that it can load your analytics dashboard incredibly quickly and gets you straight to the most important information
  • Fathom is a small two-person team that charges money for the service. Your data is not sold or leveraged in another way. Simple, straightforward pricing makes the world go 'round.
  • And so much more.

Learn more at designdetails.fm/fathom and if you sign up using that URL you will save $20 off your first invoice!

Golden Ratio Patrons:

We're looking for partners to work with. If your team is hiring, launching a new product, or wants us to get the word out about a new initiative, please get in touch!


Latest VIP Patrons:

Huge shoutouts to our latest Very Important Pixels!

  • Chris Royer

Follow-up:

  • Marshall got into the Play beta. It's promising, so far!

Tweets:

  • James Brookes has been tweeting little micro-summaries of the last few episodes - thank you!

New Products:

  • A new iPad Pro is out, and it has cursor support!
    • The adaptive cursor is beautiful, here's a video showcasing some of the neat details.
    • Craig recorded a lovely video showing off the cursor, too.
    • Ryan Morrison made a web prototype to demo the cursor interaction with a mouse.
    • The new Magic Keyboard looks fantastic, but very expensive.
    • We've previously asked ourselves if AR is a gimmick.

Cool Things:

  • Brian shared Devs, a new thriller series on Hulu.
    • "A young software engineer, Lily Chan, investigates the secret development division of her employer, a cutting-edge tech company based in Silicon Valley, which she believes is behind the murder of her boyfriend."
    • Shoutout to @gabrielvaldivia for the recommendation.
  • Marshall shared The Good Place, a "comedy about what makes a good person."

Design Details on the Web:


BYEE!

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This week, we keep it short and answer a few listener questions, including how to align text to a grid, how to handle an interview at a company that uses dark patterns, and how to account for suboptimal company processes when assembling portfolio work. And as always, we share a couple cool things like a pair of crazy tech gloves and some award-winning coffee paraphernalia.


Sponsor:

>> Want to become a sponsor of Design Details yourself? Email brian@spec.fm or sarah@spec.fm to get started :)

This week's episode is brought to you by Abstract

Abstract is design workflow management for modern design teams. With Abstract, you can bring your design workflow into a single, unified place for designers, developers, and stakeholders to collaborate and keep work moving forward. Sign your team up for a free, 30-day trial today by heading over to abstract.com.


Listener Questions:

  • Q: How do you align text boxes? To the grid? Or to the baseline grid?
    • A: A holistic baseline grid is an admirable aspiration, but it's rarely realistic. Just do your best, and pay attention through implementation for quality assurance. For the most part, we'd suggest you try using atomic-unit-sized leading (multiples of 4pt) and align to the grid or other objects' bounding boxes. That is, unless you have multiple single lines of text, like a list cell with a Label and Detail (such as in Settings), in which case, a baseline alignment is preferred.
    • Check out the Text Elements section of Bryn Jackson's The 8-Point Grid article for some more solid advice
  • Q: How do you think about organizations that use dark patterns when you're interviewing to work for them?
    • A: Maybe just ask? If you're uncomfortable asking directly, you could always abstract the question like, "How much agency does the design team have in influencing legacy patterns?"
    • Back in 2010, Facebook interrupted their account deletion flow with pictures of your friends who "will miss you"
  • Q: Do you think about your portfolio while you have a job? What if your company isn't great at or doesn't have resources for a particular process, like research?
    • A: Recognizing a shortcoming is the first step toward fixing it. Provide leadership where none exists! At the very least, you can use your performance reviews as a way to regularly collect your work.
    • The Mom Test is a book that helps you learn "how to talk to customers and learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you"

One Cool Thing:


Design Details on the Web:

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