On September 6, 2016, we launched this blog, finally giving a home to all the articles I'd been sharing on Medium and in my weekly newsletter. Two years later, we’re still going strong. In honor of DESK’s second birthday, we collected some of our favorite articles and highlights from the last two years.
Designing the blog was a surprising challenge, which you can read about right here. But I couldn’t be happier with how it’s worked for me over the last 24 months, and I still love the design with its subtle animations and thoughtful touches (thank you, Lu and Stefan!).
Here are just a few of our top articles, interviews and DESK highlights from the last two years.
1. Design in Nigeria 🇳🇬 featuring Dá Design Studio
This was our first interview in the Design Around the World series and remains a favorite. Damilola and Seyi’s no-bullshit, eloquent thoughts about design in their country were eye-opening and inspiring. This interview certainly set the bar for the dozens of interviews to follow.
I wrote this one quickly as a lighthearted jab at the self-important titles and terms we toss around in the design industry. Apparently, it struck a chord. The article sort of blew up on Twitter (at least by my standards) and is still one of the top-read pieces on the blog. Glad we can all laugh at ourselves.
We’ve featured so many fantastic companies in our How to Get a Job at X series, but Nike was a personal win for me. Of course, I love the Nike brand and everything they create, so I was curious what it takes to get a dream design job on their team. Better yet, I heard from a designer who got a job at Nike thanks to this interview. That validates the months of hard work it takes to get even a single interview published in this series, given the busy schedules and layers of corporate approval it often takes. Worth it!
4. The Startup That Never Started: Lessons from .Mail
Nearly a decade after attempting and failing to launch my own mail client, I finally wrote about the experience. We often hear that more than 50% of startups fail, but what about the ones that don't get off the ground in the first place? The .Mail story chronicles the slow dissolution of an idea, from the initial excitement and promise, to the struggle and panic, to the disappointing and painful end. It felt good to finally share this story and realize all the lessons I learned from it.
Got a bit of backlash for this one, so it’s worth mentioning as a highlight. In this article I share the best advice I know for getting the most out of a design internship. Unpaid internships are a big topic of discussion in the design community right now, so mentioning them in this article caused quite a stir. My opinion is that you should never work for free unless it’s on your own terms. But in my personal experience, it pays off to do everything you can to get your foot in the door, then work as hard as you can once you’re in.
A reflective piece about the disappointing trajectory of a typical design career, and how climbing the corporate ladder can mean losing what we love to do. When the definition of success means ultimately becoming a manager, what are we sacrificing, and are we OK with it?
This was a fun one. My good friend Rob, founder of FWA, walked us through the best websites from the 90s – back in the good old days of Flash and background music. These were the early days of the internet, when everything was new and revolutionary. Visiting some of these sites still makes my heart beat faster.
The Information Age has become the Too Much Information Age, with news and data and updates and notifications coming at us from every direction and device. This article begs the question: Are we meant to know everything?
Inspired by an episode of Black Mirror, this article looks at our obsession with a five-star existence. Our curated lives feel quite hollow when given the reality: A life of second guessing, of obsessing and ultimately, one of dissatisfaction.
This topic has been covered countless times, which only speaks to its relevance. Every creative feels like a fraud at some point in their career, a truth which should help cure the feeling itself. Knowing that everybody feels incompetent makes me feel a lot less incompetent. This article covers other ways I’ve learned to become more confident in myself and my career.
It’s motivating to look back and see all we’ve written in the last two years. I never thought of myself as a writer, but I suppose all the writing I’ve done says otherwise. I’ve been focused on my work lately and even took a long break from my newsletter, but reading through these articles again reminds me why I started writing in the first place. I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.
Thank you to everyone who reads this blog. I could do it without you, but I lost my Myspace password and it would be a lot less rewarding anyway. Here’s to another two years and beyond!