Nick Spriggs (@ncsfoo) is a partner at Vector Media Group in New York City. Though he wasn’t one of the original founders, Nick’s role at Vector has been to grow the design and branding offerings to complement the development and marketing capabilities previously in place.
In this conversation, we discuss cultural differences among designers and developers, office rituals used at Vector, how to keep your remote colleagues in the daily mix, and best practices to keep an entire team communicating clearly and working productively.
Catch up with Nick on the website for Vector Media Group.
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Show Notes & Links Nick & Prescott are co-hosts of The New York City Podcast MeetupPast guest Vijay Mathews is a mutual friendNick is a native of Australia, came to the US for University in 1999Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design
"Somehow a year in New York turned into 14."
Tweet This Prescott ran afoul of the Visa situation when he graduated from a UK university E-3 Visa for Australians, TN NAFTA for Canadians, et al.Christina Canters, a past guest on The Busy CreatorThe Museum of MathematicsVector’s output is mainly websites & appsTheir studio is rooted in branding, typography, traditional graphic designNick likes the term “Product Designer” in the rare cases when it actually applies (thought beyond the page or the pixel, to the inter-connected parts and a bit of the “how”)
"Clients sometimes don't understand what the term 'Design' means."
Tweet This The “explosion of explanation” can be exciting for a clientDesigners are trained to observe, critique, discuss our work; clients, not so muchVector was created around 2008 by Matt Weinberg & Lee GoldbergVector is staffed with “Creative Developers”, not just code monkeysNick was invited to join as a partner after working together as a collaborator previouslyVector [still] takes on pure development projects, as well as a few pure design projects. Most stuff is collaborative, though.
"You really have to be on your game when explaining something (to remote teammates.)"
Tweet This Reddit, and the “well, actually” cultureVector has started creating a Darts-scoring app as a side projectThey also created a “Project Hub” for client milestones & assets. (Click to enlarge)
Client dashboard (as static HTML)Basecamp“Clock Discipline”, the habit of tracking your activity hour-by-hour Ken Carbone on fixed-costs project feesMatt Inglot of Tilted PixelConsigliereVector provides staff with laptops, allowing transportability and work-from-home Google Hangouts on Air will become YouTube LiveYou can now do VOIP calls in SlackGoToMeetingZoomUberConference (and their hold music)9 Habits of Highly Creative PeopleAdam Harrison Levy uses wood-stacking as creative distractionFormula 1 Racing
"A big part of building the business is just time management."
Tweet This Todd Henry books “office hours”, a time where your team can access you“Distractioneering”, when social media companies distract you on purpose Nick Spriggs on Twitter Nick Spriggs on Facebook Nick Spriggs on Instagram Nick Spriggs on LinkedIn
Tools Google HangoutsBurn down reportsStack OverflowSlackUsabilityHubUsability.gov
Techniques Keep clients excited & enthusiastic beyond the project itself (if they can’t stay energised, it’s hard for you).Bring clients “in” to the process (wireframes, sketches, etc.)Have clients describe “found objects” in early phases; let the client use their own language so we can use it laterAllow designers & developers to cross-involve each otherLearn to hold quick, informal meetings internallyInvolve developers into design-led processes; they too can participateFormalise kick-off meetings to involve the whole team, when possibleUse retainers with clients; set aside blocks of hours ahead of time to ease minds and control workflowsSchedule “reverse meetings”, time where you’re actually at your desk working and no one can distract youTake a screenshot at a random time during the day; see what everyone in the shop is working on
Habits Use collaboration to inspire ourselvesObserve the politics of your client’s companyBring your remote employees to headquarters for occasional workshops/retreatsExplain with clarity when sharing with clients or remote colleaguesHold daily Standups, even with remote staff (via video call)Celebrate the project conclusion (close-out, hand-off, etc.); create office rituals around milestones along the wayTrack your time internally — as individuals and as teams — for your own learnings, regardless of how you bill the clientVisit the quirky coffee shops in your neighbourhoodTake the time to walk home (even if it’s 1 hour or more)Take a 10-15 minute walk when you feel “stuck” or distracted
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