After a flurry of scrapped ideas and illustrations that may never see the light of day, I survived my first month designing at 37signals.

Joining the team in the heat of relaunching our flagship product, it comes as no surprise that everything has been hands-on and fast-paced.

My first week

  • Monday → New computer day. (13” MacBook Air + Thunderbolt Display)
  • Tuesday → Remove my Git and Ruby training wheels with Trevor.
  • Wednesday → Screenshare with JZ, brush up on SCSS and CoffeeScript.
  • Thursday → Redesign SvN for mobile. Commit code. Beer.

A typical day

An emphasis on writing

As my mega-serious chart notes, designers here spend a lot of time writing. While working on the Basecamp marketing site, I once made the mistake of sharing progress without real copy. My first feedback? Rework the words. It was a good reminder that design weighs first on “What does this say?” before “What does this look like?”

Working in the browser

Oddly enough, Photoshop and Illustrator are my least used tools. Most of my dirty work has been in TextMate with Web Inspector, prototyping actual pages the team can poke at in their own browsers. Working this way has been fast and productive. You should give it a try.

Embracing remote working

Even though I live closest to the Chicago HQ, I still explore remote working. From the kitchen to our theater, I’ve sat in every imaginable spot in our office. On days when I’m not at the office, I surround myself with strangers at some of my favorite coffee shops in the city. Changing the scenery every day has helped work not feel like “work.”

It’s been a fun and challenging ride since my 1-week design challenge. At 32 employees strong, I’m excited to report that the principles laid out in Rework still hold true.

After starting I joked, “Hopefully I don’t break too many things.” In return:

So, here’s to adding spark and breaking (more) things.