Mig Reyes is a writer and traditionally trained graphic designer who started designing for the web before the UI and UX designers were common job titles. In addition to being the co-president of AIGA Chicago, he's formerly worked at Tock, Basecamp, and Threadless, really blazing a trail of beautiful spaces and experiences on the web. Now Mig is taking his talent and experience to Trunk Club as a design lead.
On this episode of Well Made, Stephan talks to Mig about his role in the conception of these iconic web companies, and how he sees the role of the designer evolving.
“Every touchpoint that a customer sees … that’s all part of their designed experience.”
After getting his design degree, instead of joining a big agency, Mig went to Threadless in early 2009. He was dubbed an "Interactive Designer," designing marketing, promos and interfaces, branding the the company and the product — a distinction that seems to be a theme throughout Mig's work.
For Mig, design is more than a single role at a company. Design is an investment in communicating the goals of all parts your business — marketing, finance, engineering — to your audience in a way that's totally cohesive and intentional. With the role of the designer expanding to writing, coding, and even engineering, Mig asks: Where do we draw the line? What tools do designers need to do their jobs well? And it seems the answer is always evolving.
“The older I get and the more tenured I get in my career, the less answers I seem to have and the more questions I seem to have.”
As Mig progresses in his career, he's thinking a lot about design leadership and what it means to be a steward of design. He channels a lot of his experiences from his time at Basecamp (formerly 37signals) and their unique office culture of the majority-remote team, four-day work week, team trips, and constant experimenting. He says the key to holding on to good employees for a long time is to build your company culture behind the scenes, just as you're growing your product for your customers.
As fun as it was, Mig left Basecamp because he wanted to get back in an office and work in person with teams. But a big part of his departure was because Basecamp is in a really good place, in the long tail of its life, and he wanted to move onto a job where there are new solutions to find and build.
Mig talks a lot about design and work culture on his blog which you should definitely check out. You can see his design work on his website, and be sure to tweet him if you're visiting Chicago and he'll hook you up with recommendations for the best places to eat, drink, and hang out.
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