Kyle, 8th Light’s writer and fellow diehard Wisconsinite, seems to be involved with everything going on in the company, so I was excited to get to get to see his day-to-day work during my pairing tour. My impression was definitely right - he plays a role in a variety of things and it was good to see just how much goes on outside of the work of the crafters. Aside from writing proposals, he also has a hand in the strategy around generating new leads, which includes handling our site’s SEO (involving some really complex charts and a spreadsheet of thousands of search words), helping with planning the upcoming software craftsmanship conference, aiding other employees in writing blogs, and guiding the creation of new pages for the website.

Since he was looking for help with design for one of the new pages, we spent some time talking through a new area that 8th Light is going to highlight its expertise in, and I started sketching ideas and then translated them into Sketch. It was a fun design challenge to only have a portion of the day to get from sketching to wire framing to high-fidelity mockup. Just like during my immersive, I wished I could have had more time, but I feel confident I left Kyle with some useful concepts for how the page could look.

Colin, who is leading the charge with this project, had asked me to try a version of the page that didn’t involve a hero image across the top. Big, beautiful hero images are ubiquitous in modern web design, and for obvious reasons. They usually look really good! I had challenged myself to design a previous project with no hero image, but unfortunately having solved for one way to do it didn’t immediately present me with the solution in this case. Along with some hero image versions, I ended up making a non-image version with some quick illustrations that could be remade with greater detail if Colin decides he wants to go in that direction.

Aside from some insight into SEO, the ever-evolving language of proposal writing, and a look into the complex strategy of how we generate client leads, Kyle taught me a few other important things. First, he taught me the keyboard command for locking my computer. This is important to know, because sometimes trends take over the office that involve changing people’s backgrounds when they step away from their laptops. Second, Kyle told me about Aristotle’s theory of memory being like a tablet of wax; if it’s too soft, the wax doesn’t hold the impression of the memories and things are forgotten, but if it’s too hard, impressions will not go deep enough to be retained. Lastly, Kyle and I played a game of ping pong, where I learned that I still have a lot of work to do when it comes to mastering an opponent putting spin on their hits.

Main takeaways of the day:

  • Software is what we do, but it takes a lot of energy and careful thought to find clients and keep everything else, like the amazing conference we put on, up and running.
  • I’m probably never going to be 100% happy with my designs. Things could always be better, but if you worked really hard and feel confident that you delivered something useful to your client, you should try to not beat yourself up about not coming up with some kind of incredible, never-before-seen design.