If today turns out stressful, Dave Stanton will be skateboarding tonight. It’s all about balance. Yes, with his board, but also with his work and life. On one side, there’s wireframing, sitemapping, developing, and testing. But on the other side, there’s his kids, gardening, and beer making. “I think that since I’m on a computer so much, I’m getting more and more satisfaction by accomplishing tasks with my hands,” Dave says.
Dave is a digital product designer with Smart Media Creative. In other words, if an app or site lets you get things done quickly and smoothly, it was designed by someone like Dave. He spends a lot of time studying how people read and understand information, and he brings this to interface design by building things with simplicity in mind.
Dave teleworks, but not just from his home office. “I’m probably working in 2 or 3 locations a day,” Dave says. You might find him at the local coffee shop for a halfway meeting, or on-site with a client. He gets most things done remotely, but finds it helpful to be in person for “the big aesthetic approval” on projects. The right start ensures the client will have something usable to go with the first invoice.
“If not, conversations too often devolve into focusing on details instead of the macro level,” Dave says, “Once we can get things small and turned into tickets, remote is absolutely more productive than in-office for me.” Not only is remote working more productive, but it’s also inspiring. For instance, Dave works on the college campus in town one day a week. “It gives me free audience analysis to see what people are carrying and how they are using their devices.”
Inspiration is everywhere – especially at home: this guy’s usability expert is his three year old. “Children are terrific UI testers because they haven’t developed the language necessary to parse text instructions; they have to rely on visual cues,” Dave says.
Dave’s clients and coworkers know when and how to reach him, and most often, that’s through Campfire, Skype, and email. “Do not call. I will not pick up,” says Dave, “We can schedule a call if asynchronous communication fails after a few replies, but I will never pick up the phone without knowing the objective for that call.” This might not work for everyone, but Dave is quick to point out that thirty minutes of “touching base” is not the best way to use your time.
In most cases, Campfire and Basecamp are enough for Dave’s core team of front-end developers to stay on top of things. They even use Campfire to work with the majority of their clients. “Messages can be synchronous or asynchronous, and it’s super easy to go back over a transcript to find a link or file if we somehow forgot to get it into Basecamp,” Dave says.
Dave’s success comes from setting expectations. He lets people know when he’ll be at his computer and when he won’t. Admittedly, adrenaline rushes comes with new projects, but Dave insists that as soon as the buzz subsides, you have to guard yourself from being too accessible. “The hardest part of telework is getting out of the gate with a great deliverable quickly,” says Dave, “You don’t want to over commit or cut corners.” He saves cutting for his garden. Cheers, Dave!