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Mig Reyes

About Mig Reyes

I'm a designer splitting my time between making and marketing Basecamp. In a past life, I crafted the web at Threadless and interviewed people far smarter than me.

Effort in the Application: sites that got our attention and got Basecampers their jobs

Mig Reyes
Mig Reyes wrote this on 2 comments

We’re really proud of the small-but-mighty team we’ve built here at Basecamp. Hiring is hard. Likewise, landing a great job is hard. In a sea of resumes, effort rises to the top.

Here are a few of the websites and commissioned challenges that helped these Basecampers score their job here. Note: our company was called 37signals before we became Basecamp in 2014.
Ryan Singer (Designer, Product Manager) was one of a few designer candidates that Jason picked in 2003 for a chance to join 37signals to work on client projects. The design challenge? Redesign the Verizon Wireless homepage. Ryan showed a great sense of clarity despite little to no direction, and he’s been at Basecamp ever since.

Jamie Dihiansan (Designer) met Jason early on in his career. 37signals wanted Jamie to apply for a new design position, but he wasn’t ready for it. Years later, timing finally worked out and Jamie applied for a new design position with a carefully crafted letter and a Backpack redesign.

Jason Zimdars (Designer) was quick to respond to this job posting. Turns out, JZ didn’t get the job, Jamie (above) did. Despite that, JZ still had great work and kept in touch. When 37signals had room for a new designer role, we asked him to apply and he came back with the new gold standard in applying to a job.

Ann Goliak (Support, QA) was a librarian when she first came across a Support position on our blog. Two hours later, she shot us an email and quickly forgot about it—she didn’t think she’d hear back. A month later, she heard back from us and whipped up a meaty page on why she’s a great fit.

Nick Quaranto (Programmer) wanted to move back home. Working remotely seemed like the best way to do that. Nick applied to 37signals out of the blue, thinking it was a longshot. But a descriptive site showcasing his passion convinced us otherwise.

John Williams (Ops) was tipped by his brother that there was an ops opening on the 37signals Job Board. John rose to the top with a personal site that gave him an extra edge over all of the other candidates.

Trevor Turk (Programmer) was working as a contractor during a short stint in London when he came across a programmer job posting on our blog. He worked up a straight-to-the-point page to toss his hat in the ring. Turns out, it was everything he needed to do to join the team.

Jonas Downey (Designer) reached out to Jason after he tweeted about a new design role within 37signals. Jonas interviewed, but ultimately didn’t get the job. A half-year later, another design role opened up. Jonas applied again, knocked his design challenge out of the park, and he’s been a happy Basecamper since.

Joan Stewart (Support) was a librarian, a Backpack user, and a regular Signal v. Noise reader. Knowing that Ann was a librarian, Joan thought “if she could work at 37signals, so could I.” She took the time to whip up her own page, and now Joan is a happy Basecamper, too.

Shaun Hildner (Video Producer) was quick to shoot an email to Jason after seeing him tweet that 37signals was looking for a video producer. His reel got him an interview, and his test got him the job.

Mig Reyes—that’s me!—(Designer) dropped an email to Jason looking for a written recommendation when he was applying for a totally different job in Chicago. Jason offered, “would you be up for working with us at 37signals instead?” A few meetings with the team in Chicago and a design test to boot, Mig became the next Basecamper.

Dan Kim (Programmer) was just about finished taking an advanced HTML and CSS class at The Starter League. He emailed Jason if there were any opportunities, but there weren’t at the time. When we started to work on Know Your Company, Jason reached out. Then after a couple of lunches and a test project, Dan became a Basecamper.

Jim Mackenzie (Support, Programmer) noticed he hadn’t seen recent Signal v. Noise posts after updating his RSS reader. Out of curiosity, he visited our blog in his browser and stumbled upon this job post and sent us a strong pitch and some work on why we should hire a stranger from the UK.

Conor Muirhead (Designer) had a coworker mention that Basecamp was hiring a product designer. Considering a job switch himself, Conor pulled the trigger on firing off this email to Jason. Conor’s effort put him into consideration for the job, and he followed it all the way through with his fully thought out design challenge.

James Glazebrook (Support) was tipped by Natalie, already one of Basecamp’s very own Support team members, that we were hiring someone to cover European hours. James had read REWORK before, so he knew we valued applicants going above and beyond. The result? 37 reasons why we should hire him.

Sylvia Chong (Support) planned on starting a food blog with a friend. Knowing they needed a good way to keep track of progress, her friend recommended using Basecamp together. Sylvia loved using Basecamp, so much so that she wondered if there were any jobs here. Luck and timing were in her favor, there was a perfect-sounding spot for her on our Support team. She finished her convincing site a week and a half later, and now we’re glad she’s on the team.

And of course, the original 37signals Manifesto that helped land us plenty of our former clients when we were a web consulting agency.

By the way, we’re hiring a programmer to lead Android and a designer to do brand and marketing. If you’d like to join the team, reach out to us!

Basecamp is hiring another Marketing Designer

Mig Reyes
Mig Reyes wrote this on Discuss

We’re looking to hire a Designer to join us at Basecamp to work on all sorts of fun, meaningful marketing projects. The last time we hired for this role was when I joined in 2012. The last time before that? It was Jamie in 2008. We don’t often have openings for design positions like this, so we’re really excited to bring someone new to the team.

Note: This is primarily a senior-level graphic design position. Applications were due on February 6, 2015. Thanks to everyone who applied!

Designers at Basecamp are a fun bunch, and we all do a bit of everything. We’re not just setting type, picking Pantone colors, or pushing pixels in Photoshop. In addition to graphic design, designers at Basecamp write tight copy, plan the user experience for marketing pages and apps, and craft the HTML and CSS to bring it all together. We don’t think this makes you a unicorn, or a ninja, or a rockstar. We just think it makes you a well-rounded designer. You may not have all these skills yet, but you’re looking for a place to learn and hone them.
Designers that work on marketing at Basecamp aren’t afraid to sell. Whether it’s getting your coworkers to buy in on a direction you’ve designed, or writing copy that makes it clear why customers should choose Basecamp, you don’t shy away from the role of marketing: selling something worthwhile.

If you were a marketing-focused Designer at Basecamp, here’s some of the work you might have done:

When the new version of the Basecamp app launched, you would have lead the charge on designing a new Help site while teaching the Support team how to write the documentation for it.

When we changed from 37signals to Basecamp, you would have worked on the brand new marketing site for our exciting company change.

You would have suggested that the new name change, along with all of our new coworkers we hired in the last couple of years, warranted fresh business cards. So you made them.

You believed in supporting businesses who have lasted for generations, so you volunteered to design The Distance.

You would have found your own design’s shortcomings and months later, redesigned The Distance to make it faster to update and easier to read.

Over time and if you were feeling adventurous, you’d dive into the world of product design to add useful features including Annual Billing and storage upgrades, because making customers happy and having a positive impact on revenue is a win-win.

You’d go on to create beautiful letter-pressed invoices, because our customers deserve the best in every instance we get to talk to them.

On a whim, you’d swoop in to help Dan and Merissa make t-shirts to hand out at the latest conference we’re sponsoring. Heck, you’d even think of other great conferences and initiatives we should be sponsoring, too.

You’d give our Support team fun ways to write personal notes to customers.

You’d help plan and design the materials that went into Basecamp sponsoring the Pitchfork Music Festival. Dressing up like a camper is both silly and optional. But we’re all fun here, so you wouldn’t have thought it was weird to do so.

Some work you might do once you get here:

You’ll look at billboards like this and ask, “if Basecamp took out a billboard, what would ours say?”

You’ll encounter beautiful wall murals like this and offer, “if donut shops can have great branding and advertising, why can’t Basecamp?”

You’ll also help us make Basecamp.com feel alive and relevant, you’ll learn the ropes of A/B testing and experiment with new designs often for our marketing sites, you’ll craft email campaigns about Basecamp that people actually want to sign up for, and you might even share everything you’ve learned on this blog.

And if you didn’t like anything I just shared with you above, you’d step in to find out ways to do things better and lead with real designs you make and put out into the world.

You’ll have some of the most talented, smart, and funny people all around the world to help you do this work.

If you’re working on a new Basecamp.com landing page and have a question about trends in Basecamp signups, Noah can offer plenty of insights. If you’re curious about what our customers actually want, the entire Support team can give you a top-three list of requests at the drop of a hat. If you think a campaign at Basecamp needs great photography and video to tell your story, our video producer Shaun can be right by your side to film and shoot. We think everyone here is awesome, and we’d love to see you on the Basecamp Team page with us.

About you

You might live in Chicago, and that’s great. But we work remotely, so we’ll give you a fair shake no matter where you live. We want to know that you’ve done this kind of work before. Whether you’re coming from a big tech company or a small mom-and-pop agency, your resume and pedigree don’t matter nearly as much as the real world work you’ve put out in the world.
You may have a copy of Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style laying next to your copy of Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational. You may also have a stack of design, marketing, and advertising books you’re just dying for us to check out, too.
You have a love for writing, an interest in selling, a soft spot for art, and a fascination with technology. We’re hoping you also have completely unrelated hobbies that will make us love you even more.

Ready to apply?

At Basecamp, we have a long standing history of favoring candidates who put in extra effort in their applications. Whether that’s a video of you introducing yourself or making us a custom website—that’s all up to you. We want to know if you’re qualified, a good fit, and most importantly, you want this job and not just any job.
When you’re ready, shoot an email to me at mig_at_basecamp_dot_com with your design portfolio and anything extra you’d like to send along. I’ll share everyone’s applications with the team. When we’ve narrowed down our list of candidates, we’ll reach out to you.
If this sounds like you, I’m encouraging you to apply. If this isn’t you and sounds like someone you know, please pass the word along for us!
Happy Friday!

Design Discussions: Having fun with Basecamp business cards

Mig Reyes
Mig Reyes wrote this on 3 comments

I’m a sucker for “behind the scenes” articles on how other people made design decisions. They’re usually accompanied with neatly packaged lessons for everyone to walk away with.

Designing—especially during the early exploration phases—is anything but neat. There’s plenty of debates, countless iterations, and drive-by critiques.
I’m starting a new series here on Signal v. Noise called “Design Discussions.” Every so often, I’ll take a page out of our company Basecamp account and share the entire discussion behind a design project we’ve done. They’ll be raw and unedited. They might be full of insight, or they might be incredibly boring and expose the weirdness and silliness of each of our coworkers. That’s fine, too!
Either way, I won’t overly explain the reasoning behind what we were doing, nor will I share a top-ten list of things you should try in your own project. You’ll get an uncut backstage pass to the conversations that took our projects from A to B.
So, let’s start with something we had fun with. Around this time last year, we were Becoming Basecamp. With so many employees, it was high time for us to have a new identity, and that included business cards. (Chances for free lunches via fishbowl drawings, as I like to see it.)
If you happen to come across one of us happy Basecampers, be sure to ask for our card. They look like this.

Designing and illustrating the cards took a day. You can see how quickly other folks in the company chimed in to help me try new ideas throughout the day. The full-sized screen capture of the design discussion follows. Click-to-enlarge it to 100% if you’re on a desktop.

Continued…

Marketing around situations

Mig Reyes
Mig Reyes wrote this on 6 comments

Before he made The Simpsons, Matt Groening’s famous comics and illustrations graced the covers of Apple brochures. The writing inside—from 1989, mind you—still does a great job selling the Mac.


Instead of blanket marketing a one-size-fits-all message, Apple took the time to speak to every situation a person is in. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, the Mac is there to put order back in your life. If you’re unemployed, the Mac is there to help you chase a career. If you’re a habitual procrastinator, the Mac is there for your spark of productivity.
They’re listening to us, and our problems. Talk about empathy.
Plenty of marketing today, especially in software, is a package of feature sets, bells, whistles, and some boasting about how they’re better than the next guy. Perhaps there’s mention of “benefits,” sure, but we’re always left figuring out how a product is supposed to fit in our own lives.
Chances are, your product isn’t for everybody. It doesn’t have to be, either. Really listen to your audience—you’re lucky to have them. Instead of assuming what they need, ask where they’re coming from. How did they get to the point of finally asking your product for help? If you can figure that out, all of a sudden your marketing changes from “making sales” to “being there for friend.” That feels good.

Lessons from Frank & Oak’s Support

Mig Reyes
Mig Reyes wrote this on 19 comments

Doing business with a company means you’re not just buying their products, but the experience of having their people, opinions and expertise, too.

Some companies really understand great customer support and service, others fall hard. The latter is the case with my recent (now only) experience with Canadian online menswear retailer, Frank & Oak.
My story is common: I ordered a couple of items, but one got lost in transit. I had full faith that customer service at Frank & Oak could help me track it.
I got a week of radio silence through their online form, and email. Resorting to Twitter, I finally got a reply a couple days later: “we’ll email you.”
Fast forward three weeks from their first reply and we’ve got two valuable lessons from their final correspondence:

I usually answer my email within 3-4 days, but since you sent 3 emails, the number of days showing since our last communication stayed the same. Please wait for a response next time, so that I don’t loose track of our communication.

1. Blame the customer: 3 emails in a 3 week span, of course it’s my fault.
2. Passive-aggresively tell the customer they’re annoying: In 2013, most email clients order messages by time of receipt. My fault, I didn’t know that yours doesn’t.
Every bit of this Frank & Oak email makes it my fault. So much for making customers feel like a bad ass.
For examples on how to avoid bad customer service like this, you can read how Ryan switched to T-Mobile and had a great experience, or you can read how we turned our own disasters into gold. And whether you work on a support team or not, everyone should give Carnegie a read. You’ll make more friends, and probably more customers.
In the mean time, I’m going to find a place to buy a nice shirt.

Try, try again

Mig Reyes
Mig Reyes wrote this on 5 comments

I wonder how many people stop themselves short of making something new in fear of it failing.

Failure, sigh. It’s (still) overrated, and it’s given everyone the wrong lens to look at their craft. Why dissect post-mortem when we can imagine possibility? Why review mistakes when we can consider play?

The makers of our world would be better off mimicking scientists with their work. Harp on deliberate practice. Reinvent their processes daily. Share every discovery. And most importantly, try new things often.
All of a sudden punting on ideas—no matter how silly—seem like the real mistake. They’re lessons you didn’t learn, skills you didn’t exercise.
When everything’s an experiment, you shed the fear that comes with trying new things. And that sounds like a better way to grow and learn. Plus, no one has to even mention the f-word.

Why did you switch to Basecamp?

Mig Reyes
Mig Reyes wrote this on 5 comments

Truth be told, we haven’t placed heavy efforts on marketing Basecamp. Customers sign up, pay, and are on their way. For nearly a decade, Basecamp has sold itself.

The problem for us is, with so many industries using Basecamp in different ways, we’re having a tough time figuring out how to talk about the product to new customers. We have an idea of how our customers use Basecamp, but we don’t know for sure.

Harder, still, is that we don’t even know why our customers switch from one product or system to using Basecamp. Hidden within their stories of over-loaded inbox frustrations and bloated corporate software are key insights about what makes Basecamp great for our customers.

We’re after those insights, and we want to share your stories.

Tell us your “Why we switched to Basecamp” story and you may be featured on an upcoming redesign of the basecamp.com landing page.

Share your story at basecamp.com/switch.

When culture turns into policy

Mig Reyes
Mig Reyes wrote this on 19 comments

A fine line exists between spelling out company culture and inadvertently engraving it as policy.

Culture offers your staff the company blog’s “publish” button 24/7 so that they can write when their own iron is hot. Policy forces topics and a posting schedule to chip away at the company marketing quota.
Culture inspires your programmers to discover typographic rhythm and scale in their free time. Policy puts a “lunch and learn with designers” meeting on your calendar at 12:00 PM.
Culture nurtures pet projects so that they grow into everyday company tools. Policy steals 20% of your staff’s work hours to gamble on forced research and development.
Culture does. Policy says.
Culture encourages. Policy requires.
Culture empowers. Policy mandates.
Culture simply happens—it isn’t created.

Teaching the Support team how to fish

Mig Reyes
Mig Reyes wrote this on 25 comments

Since its launch, the all new Basecamp hadn’t had a dedicated Help site that was actually, well… helpful. Last month, the Support team and I changed all of that.

The previous, crusty excuse of a Help page we had for Basecamp was:

  • A list of answers to questions no one was asking
  • A dead end that didn’t encourage discovery
  • A mystery to our Support team because they couldn’t update it
Previous version that didn’t answer real questions

It needed an upgrade. It needed a rewrite and redesign. It needed to put power back in the Support team’s hands.

Continued…

Reminder: Design is still about words

Mig Reyes
Mig Reyes wrote this on 31 comments

Click away from the pen tool…

Put down your Pantone book…

Stop rearranging your layers…

Close your stock texture folder…

Log out of your Dribbble…

And god dammit, hug your copywriter…

Designing for the web is still about words.