“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I’ve heard and seeing this African proverb getting quoted a lot in the WordPress community lately. It’s not a surprise—WordPress is growing by leaps and bounds. That means opportunities to working for big companies doing big things have never been better.
After every WordCamp or WordPress-related conference there are always at least a few “Yay! I got hired by Awesome Company!” tweets and blog posts. Brian Richards joined Crowd Favorite. Suzette Franck is now on the WebDev Studios team. Rob Neu teamed up with WPSitecare. Joining a team is definitely one of the hot trends in WordPress now.
Earlier in the week Chris Lema wrote about Five places you should try to work (in the WordPress world). He shared his thoughts about the benefits working for iThemes, Bourn Creative, Easy Digital Downloads, Reaktiv Studios and WPEngine. I agree—they’re awesome companies who are influencing the future of WordPress. All of them seem like amazing places to work—especially if you’re a developer.
I’m not a dev, though, I’m a designer. So Chris got me thinking about the best places to work from a designer’s perspective. What five companies would *I* consider “design dream jobs”? If I were going to make the leap to a team, where would I most like to land? Who would I want to “go far” with?
What makes a design dream job?
To make a list of design dream jobs I had to think about what’s important to me as a designer. After a lot of thought I came up with five things that are most important to me. These are the “core brand values” I used when thinking about where I’d be able to do my best work.
My design dream jobs are with companies who:
1. Are confident I add value
I want to know I’m going to be a productive member of the team almost immediately. I don’t want to waste anybody’s time trying to be something I’m not. A design dream job lets me do what I’m great at.
2. Encourage me to constantly learn + grow
I don’t ever want to think I’m the smartest person in the room. In a design dream job I get to collaborate with a team of people who are smarter than I am. They’ll constantly challenge me to be better than I was the day before.
3. Share my core values
I want to know that we believe in the same things and are working for the same goals. A design dream job values good design, prioritizes user experience, and takes a strategic, data-influenced approach to design while still acknowledging that you need to make room in the process for magic to happen.
4. Strives to make a difference in the world
The whole point of joining a team is to go farther than I could alone. A design dream job lets me make a difference in the world. I don’t need to change the whole world, but I do want to make at least one small part of it better than I found it.
5. Has impact
I like being on the edge. A dream design job is at a company filled with thought leaders who are on the leading edge of what’s next. Not only that—they know how to make it possible.
My top five dream design jobs
I made all of my decisions based on those ideas.Unlike Chris’ list not all the companies are in the WordPress world—but I don’t hold it against them. ;)
I started using Webflow when I was preparing a talk on agile design for WordCamp Orange County. I’ve used it to build custom themes on my last few projects, and I’m not kidding when I say it’s completely revolutionized the way I build websites. I’ve been mildly obsessed—I even think about features I’d like to add and how I’d integrate them into the UI just for fun. (We’ve repeatedly established I’m a giant nerd at this point, right?)
What makes Webflow a dream design job is being part of a team that’s building a product that’s enabling designers to build websites in an exciting new way. Who wouldn’t love to be a part of making that kind of impact in the future of web design? I’d totally be part of that revolution! (Another dream design job tip: if it involves shaking up the status quo, I’m totally on board.)
When I opened CoSchedule for the first time, their UI blew me away. I’d been using a bare-bones post scheduling plug-in, and was super-impressed with how they were able to take the same functionality and make it both useful and fun to use. Their attention to not only usability, but surprise and delight runs through everything they do: CoSchedule, the free Click to Tweet plugin (which I also use, love, and can’t imagine living without) and their parent company/agency, Todaymade.
What makes CoSchedule a design dream job is their commitment to producing valuable educational content for their customers. I’m a journalism-student-turned-designer, so words have always been a huge part of my design process. I learn something new every time I read one of their articles.
Their commitment to both emotional storytelling and a holistic strategy that gets results is something I believe in as passionately as they do. (I’m also a huge fan their design style. Good design matters to them as much as a top-notch UX and useful, well-written content. The same thing matters to me.)
I’ve been in love with Flywheel since the beta program launched in 2013. Again, a company had designed a product that addressed everything that made setting up a client site a pain in the ass. Free password protected staging sites meant I could build a site only the client could see (without needing an expensive multisite package). I was also able to bill a client and have the site go live as soon as they paid—which meant no more migrations (Hooray!). And they did it all with an intuitive UI.
But what really makes Flywheel a design dream job are the people who work there. When I got involved with the beta program, Rick spent an hour on the phone walking me through it. When I taught a class at a community college (where the students are pretty broke), they helped with hosting accounts. I love their commitment to both the design community and the WordPress community. In general, they’re just all-around awesome folks. (I mean, they staged a Nerf sword fight with the CEO to demonstrate the how they fight malware. How cool is that?)
When I think about thought leaders, I think about the team at Forty/Crowd Favorite. I’ve been a huge evangelist of the idea that designers should be more than decorators— that the difference between solving a problem and making something pretty are vast. So when I saw James Archer’s Deep Design: Go Beyond Decoration video, I fell in love with his agency.
I was fortunate enough to see him speak at WordCamp Los Angeles this year. He told a story about a design solution that gave me goosebumps. The solution wasn’t based on a pretty font or a color scheme, but how it worked, and the difference it made in real people’s lives. (If you want to hear the whole story, James tells it better than I can).
Even better is the fact that Forty recently joined forces with Crowd Favorite. Add in Karim Marucchi and Chris Lema, and I’m not sure if my brain could ever hold all the knowledge they could pass along. (I’d sure like to try, though!)
Viget does work that matters. When you look their portfolio it’s packed with projects from clients like the Nature Conservancy, 96 Elephants, the Nature Conservancy and Craig Hospital. Being able to build beautiful, functional, usable sites that make a difference in the world are what makes Viget a dream design job.
I love that their portfolio pages focus on process and the story of how the project evolved. It’s not the type of place where they post pretty pictures of websites into devices and call it a day.
Instead, Viget talks about why they made design decisions. They talk about the problem they’ve solved for the client. They detail their approach, so you understand how they got to those pretty pictures. And of, course, everything Viget makes is absolutely gorgeous. They understand that design is in the details, and pay close attention to them.
My dream design job isn’t yours
Just like with brands, what floats my boat might leave you high and dry. The key to figuring out *your* dream design job is to decide what matters most to *you*. Here’s a tip: sit down and run a personal brand audit. What are your vision and values? What’s your personal brand promise? Do your research to find the company that shares them—they’re your target audience, which means they’re a good candidate for your own personal design dream job!