By Design is a weekly letter reaching ~170,000 people following the Prototypr Medium publication. Written by Sophie Clifton-Tucker, we unearth unheard voices, and break down the barriers in design and development.
Although the job market is currently less stable than Britney circa 2007, there are plenty of ways for you to flex your designer muscles outside of the usual 9–5. So put your Boss Babe hat on (yes, even you, Martin) and read on for some creative ways to keep your finger firmly in the design pie.
After last week’s newsletter, we had a flurry of humans sign up to our People page. (Were you one of them? Go on!) This week we’re featuring four designers who know a thing or two about side projects. And best of all? They’re available for hire! Head below to take a peek at their faces.👇
Hot off the Press
- Fund Your Passions with Adobe: Amidst all the depressing news of once-great companies making some questionable decisions amidst the ‘rona/BLM whirlwinds (more on that next week), Adobe have remained a steadfast beacon of support for creatives. In response to the Jumanji year we’re having, Adobe has put aside a lip-smacking $1 million to help fund personal projects in the field of visual design: introducing the Creative Residency Community Fund.
- What’s Your Next Play?: In our last newsletter, I wrote about how Glitch and Airbnb had laid off a significant portion of their respective teams. Here’s some more doom and gloom for ya! Social media terrorists, Facebook, lost the loyalty of some of their workers this month as they staged a virtual walkout in response to their employer’s lack of damage control over moderating the Orange Overlord’s tweets. Cue ‘nextplayism’. ‘Next Play’, has become a buzzword in Silicon Valley of late, as people keep one eye on their current role, and the other beady one on the next. However, we’re not all bestowed with the luxury of being able to afford to leapfrog from one position to the next, with some relying on their role for work visas. Are your morals worth being deported for? And what exactly is next…?
- Buy Me a Cuppa!: Ko-fi are helping creatorsto make an income from doing the things they love. Despite a spot of copycatting from another company (the Ray-Mans to Ko-fi’s Ray-Bans), this virtual tip jar has gone from strength to strength. As with Patreon, supporters can receive a message back as well as unlock exclusive content, but unlike the Patreon model, there’s no requirement for tiered content, no fees, and no holding-time before releasing your funds. Simply sign up, share your link, and be supported, all for the price of (you guessed it) a cup of coffee.
- Showcase Your Projects: And finally, our jefe (Graeme) has been busy tinkering away in his toolshed, making it possible for you to now add all your projects to your personal profile on Prototypr’s People page (try saying that 3 times in a row). Have a snoop. Produced any funky illustrations lately? Finally finished that side-project? It’s time to show it off!
Some things come into your life and you wonder how you ever lived without them, like pizza scissors and those slippers that buff your floor as you walk. Can’t find the job you want, or the tool you need? Make it yourself!
Getting Writty With It: Once upon a time, a frustrated writer had enough of searching for the perfect word processing tool — so he made one himself. Writty is the new open-source text editing platform that has all the features you’d want, without any unnecessary fluff. With its handy autosave feature, dark mode option, and Chrome extension, Writty shot up to #1 on Producthunt in just 24 hours. Founder, Carlos, lets us crawl inside his head and see how he executed his project from beginning to end, and shares some of his tools for success.
BYOB: Another designer taking matters into their own hands is Kilian, who after making the move from Photoshop to Sketch, needed a browser that would cooperate with the desired viewport configurations. The solution? Build your own browser, obviously! After a few nights at the ol’ workbench, Kilian came up with a prototype that allowed you to enter an URL and view the page in multiple dimensions. Since then, development has continued, and Polypane now offers features such as navigation, and the ability to add new screens, built-in live reloading and device emulation. Winner.
“Secretly, developers are a tiny target audience for regular browsers and while the developer tools in them are amazing, the rest of a browser just doesn’t take developers into account,” Kilian explains, and for this reason he’s created Polypane’s entire interface with front-end developers in mind — He’s a keeper.
From MVP to Reality — Build Your Own App: Zoe is a wiz at building microtools to solve her own problems, and she does so in the time it’d take you to binge watch the entire series of Tiger King. (Less than a day, in case you were wondering.) Zoe’s products centre on efficiency; building a functional MVP before committing to spending the big bucks.
Using a combination of tools such as Carrd, Glide, Stripe, Google Sheets and Airtable, she came up with the 24-hour startup Meal Kit Go — a fitness meal kit delivery service. Going against everything our mums taught us, sometimes it is best to run before you can walk — get your MVP out on the trot, and get it tested/validated in real time to put you in good stead before the real building happens.
Find Your Design Tribe: Networking *shudder* is an important part of any job, but with many designers working remotely and not always with English as their first language, it’s not as simple as swanning around a conference room with a glass of Brut in hand. Luckily, Ryan has come up with Designer Slack Communities; a way for like-minded designers to connect globally — and the best part? You needn’t put any pants on to attend.
Hello, Stranger: Taking slack communities to the next level is Francesca. Stepping in like a superwoman for designers in crisis, Fran’s come up with Designers Anonymous; think of this as your safe space to offload all your design worries incognito onto a non-judgemental support group, who will hopefully have some useful advice for you. As my grandad used to say clutching his Y-fronts fresh out of the dryer: Sometimes all you need is a little support!
Available For Hire
Each week we’ll feature some of our members on the hunt for work in the world of design. Join the party train for your chance to get seen by employers.
Caroline Neel • Experience Designer
- Caroline’s background in psychology has led her to distill some pretty complex concepts for regular muggles like you and I. Want to see? Of course you do! Head over to her website and prepare to have your mind blown.
- Caroline is also a brilliant writer (all right Caroline, leave some talent for the rest of us). Check out her list of published articles, and get some of her poetry as a bonus!
Dillion Megida • Frontend Engineer
- As well as being a front-end developer, Dillion likes to dip his toe into the technical writing world. Catch some of his articles over on his personal blog, TheWebFor5, and Soshace.
Frederike Higgs • Freelance UX Designer
- You might remember Freda from last week’s newsletter, where we highlighted her cracking article on communicating effectively during COVID whilst working remotely.
- When she’s not assisting us with our awkward social skills, Frederike helps people to build better and more meaningful products. Take a look at her Ibiza Spirit Festival project breakdown for an example of how she melds design work with a human-centric approach.
- Did you know that breaking down a website/application into its basic components is known as ‘Atomic Design’? Frederike does. She wrote about it.
Ivett Lorenzano • UX/UI Designer
- Ivett is passionate about creating beautiful user-centred products for businesses and users. Want to see some of her work? Peruse her portfolio!
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