139 - How to start your own design agency — with Dan Mall
The Futur with Chris Do
When you think of a design agency you might imagine a large, bustling office, with an open floor plan, teaming with creative people.And most of the time, reality would meet your expectations. But not all of the time.Because that's not what Philadelphia based agency, Superfriendly, is. It’s not even close.Superfriendly is a distributed design collaborative. Which means their team members reside all over the world. Like specialized creative agents, they are tapped to collaborate on projects that maximize both their skill and their personal experience.Our guest in this episode—Dan Mall—is the founder and sole employee of Superfriendly.Dan shares how and why he structured his agency the way he did and why having the right people in the room is how you win.You will also hear how Dan reverse engineered his entire career. From entry level designer to agency strategist and the double-edged sword of youthful arrogance.But the most compelling part of this conversation is how Dan and Chris discuss pricing.You’re probably familiar with the various pricing models. Like hourly, value-based, cost plus, etc. But have you ever thought about the ethics involved in each?Some may think value-based pricing is unethical. Others might argue that charging hourly is. Who’s right? And what’s the most important part of the equation?We’ll let you decide, but we suggest you listen to this episode first. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dan Mall: Creating boundaries and psychological safety
Design To Be Conversation
In today’s episode, I speak with Dan Mall. Dan is a creative director and advisor from Philly. He’s the founder and CEO of SuperFriendly, a design collaborative that helps in-house teams make better digital products with design systems. Dan is the author of Pricing Design, and co-founder of Arcade, a fun way to manage design tokens for enterprise teams. Enthralled by his role as husband and dad, he also finds joy writing about design and other issues on Twitter and on his industry-recognized site, danmall.me. We dive into the difference between boundaries and psychological safety, why these practices should matter to every designer, the connection between risk and creativity, tactical ways to inspire a culture of learning, as well as how to contribute and challenge the status quo for better collaboration and impact.
279 – 💡 Super Friendly Design Systems with Dan Mall
In this episode, we get to speak with Dan Mall : Co-founder and CEO of Arcade, and Founder & CEO of SuperFriendly. We discuss the origins of SuperFriendly, Arcade, the “Get It Out of Your System” podcast, and more. ✨ Episode Sponsor Auth0: https://auth0.comAuth0 on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/auth0Auth0 on Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/auth0Auth0 Avocado Labs online meetup events: https://avocadolabs.dev/ 🔗 Episode Links Twitter: https://twitter.com/danmallLinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danmall/Website: https://danmall.me/Arcade: A Fun Way to Manage Design Tokens: https://usearcade.com/SuperFriendly: https://superfriendlydesign.systemsMake Design Systems People Want to Use: https://superfriendlydesign.systems/classes/make-design-systems-people-want-to-use/Get It Out of Your System – Podcast: https://superfriendlydesign.systems/podcasts/get-it-out-of-your-system/Invisionapp: Build your design system like the pros: https://www.invisionapp.com/design-system-manager/expert-adviceDan Mall – An Event Apart Orlando 2018: https://youtu.be/bHjSSfUpOvcHost: Frederick Weiss: https://twitter.com/frederickweiss 📜 Transcript Frederick Weiss: [00:00:00] welcome to the Thunder Nerds… I’m Frederick Philip Von Weiss. Thank you for consuming the show. It’s a conversation about the people behind the technology that love what they do and do tech good. And speaking of doing tech good, we have an amazing sponsor for the show. This year we have Auth0, which makes it easy for developers to build a custom. A secure and standard-based unified login by providing authentication and authorization as a service. Try them out now go to Auth0.com they’re also on YouTube.com/Auth0 on Twitch.tv/auth0. And they also have a cool place for their developer events and stuff like that. [00:01:15] Check at avocadolabs.dev. So with that being said, let’s go ahead and get to our amazing guests. I’m really excited to have him back. We have lead designer, creative director, co-founder and CEO of UseArcade.com, and founder and CEO of SuperFriendly Dan mall. Welcome back Dan. [00:01:38] Dan Mall: [00:01:38] Yeah. Thanks very much. Thanks for having me. [00:01:39] I like this part two. [00:01:41] Frederick Weiss: [00:01:41] Yes… It’s great to talk to you again. I think when we had you on the show, it was in Orlando at An Event Apart. I think that was like 2017 or 18. I’m a little fuzzy on the details I thought we were talking about. Oh, okay. Is that right? Yeah. And we were talking about your cool talk and at there, and it was a lot of fun. [00:02:02] It was great to get to know you, I’m really excited to have you back on the show. [00:02:06] Dan Mall: [00:02:06] Yeah, me too. This is exciting for me, so thanks for that. Thanks for doing it. [00:02:10] Frederick Weiss: [00:02:10] Yeah, our pleasure. Why don’t we first jump into something that’s a little bit topical, which is the COVID? I certainly got my, a circle-circle-dot-dot Cudi shot in this arm right here. [00:02:20]Over my bat tattoo. Ironically, what about yourself? Did you have you gotten the COVID shot or are you planning to, do you have a certain one that you’re looking [00:02:28] Dan Mall: [00:02:28] forward to. Yeah, not yet. Haven’t gotten it yet, but I had my appointment scheduled for Saturday. So hopefully all things go well for a shot. [00:02:35] Number one on Saturday. [00:02:37] Frederick Weiss: [00:02:37] W what are you getting? Do you know if you’re getting the Pfizer, the Johnson and Johnson, what have you think? [00:02:42] Dan Mall: [00:02:42] It’s the Pfizer one. I’m not positive about that, but I think it’s the Pfizer. [00:02:46] Frederick Weiss: [00:02:46] Okay. Gotcha. Yeah, that’s what I got. I got the Pfizer. And I’m just, I’m really looking forward to the second shot and having some security, what that brings. [00:02:55] I don’t know, but hopefully, I believe it gets you to 90, 94% security in a way I keep using that word, but I don’t know what else to call it, but I’m just hoping that we move past these things and we get to some level of normalcy or start building up to that. [00:03:11] I’d like to ask you though, how has it affected you, your family, and your business. [00:03:16]Dan Mall: [00:03:16] In a lot of ways it’s been like business as usual. So like super friendly, which is the agency that I run. We’ve always been distributed since we opened in 2012. We’ve always worked remotely. So in terms of working from home and everybody doing that, it hasn’t really been much change. [00:03:30]The big difference is that everybody else is home too. So it’s like everyone’s families and kids and all of that stuff. And that’s new for all super friends. So that’s really been the biggest thing adjusting to kids in school. My kids go to Catholic school. So there was a portion where they were at home doing learning from home, and then there’s a portion where they were going to school in person because they have small class sizes. [00:03:51] So just adjusting to all of that has been weird. [00:03:56] Frederick Weiss: [00:03:56] Yeah. Yeah. I’d imagine. What about w what about your wife? I know she’s, she actually just recently started her own company too. I [00:04:03] Dan Mall: [00:04:03] actually started a business as of a, I think earlier this week, maybe last week, I think. And so that’s been going really well, too, for the last week. [00:04:10]My wife’s a stay-at-home mom. She’s a writer also. She finished up her first novel recently. Again, working from home. So we’re used to it that the big complication is really just that the kids are home with us too. So the space that we had before to do our own thing and do our own work has evaporated because everybody’s home all the time. [00:04:26] So trying to figure that out has been a struggle. We’re coping and we’re trying to do the best we can. Do you [00:04:33] Frederick Weiss: [00:04:33] mind if I asked you what the novel is about? Is it science fiction science technology? [00:04:39] Dan Mall: [00:04:39] Yes. So it’s a young adult fantasy that she’s writing. [00:04:42] And I actually don’t know what it’s about because one of the things that she read, yeah. One of the things that she read and Stephen King’s book was he was like, never show your first draft to your spouse. It’s the worst thing that you could do. So everybody else done the book is about, I know very briefly what it’s about. [00:04:57] I know it’s a, it’s bit Harry Potter esque. There’s a female lead. And that’s really all I know. So she won’t let me read it until she gets a little bit farther into the editing stage. [00:05:07] Frederick Weiss: [00:05:07] That’s really funny. I am actually in the middle of finishing chapter two of my book, which is hopefully I’m going to be pushing out soon, which is all about creative direction and how to talk to people and get your ideas out there. [00:05:19] But yeah I guess I broke that rule right away. Cause every time I wrote a little bit, I asked my wife, I was like, Hey, what did you think of this? What do you think of that? Is that any good that I don’t know? [00:05:26] Dan Mall: [00:05:26] Totally. Okay. Yeah. I do the same thing when I write blog posts or anything like that. And so she does the same when she writes to her blog, but the book is different. [00:05:33] I think it’s a little bit closer. [00:05:35] Frederick Weiss: [00:05:35] Okay. If that makes sense, speaking about your family and super-friendly, which I definitely want to dive into in a little bit, I’d love to talk about your beginnings of being a freelancer. And I found this really interesting article that you not an article, rather, a video where you were talking about being a freelancer and why you left your day job for independence. [00:05:55] I think that was the title of the video. And you wrote about the common misconception about. People using the term freelancer that there’s a lot of some people will take that in the wrong way. They’ll think about it as someone that’s lazy or they live in their parents’ basement, which I’m quoting from the video here. [00:06:14]Do you mind going into that and how you started with you were working a full-time job, you were doing freelance at night when you would come home and you were testing the waters of what it would be like to do freelance, right? [00:06:27] Dan Mall: [00:06:27] Yeah, totally. I think one of the things that’s tough about freelance, in general, is that especially in our industry, is that there’s not a lot of. [00:06:34] Signals as to whether someone is good or bad at their job. So if you think about the trade that we have as designers or developers or engineers or writers these are trades and they are, self-taught usually not everybody goes to school to do them. Some people do and get a degree in design or graphic design or web design. [00:06:50]And then other people don’t, they just learn it on their own and they figure it out. So it’s hard for people, I think, to know where we sit on that spectrum are we trained it, and are we good at what we do? Or is it something that’s like a hobby, right? There are lots of web designer hobbyists out there. [00:07:03] And there are also professional web designers who do that as a living. So I think the term freelancers is too broad because it encompasses that whole spectrum. And in our industry, we don’t have things like certifications, generally, there are some, but it’s not a kind of a, an accepted standard quite yet. [00:07:18] So it’s hard for people to know what they’re going to get when it comes to a freelancer. And unfortunately, that affects those that are more professional. And those that are, have been doing this for a long time, get lumped into the same bucket as those who have not been doing it for a long time and do it maybe as a hobby. [00:07:33] So I think we need better terms and we need better ways to signal that this is something that we can actually be professionals at and be knowledge workers, as opposed to, I’ve been, I feel like everybody has a version of the story of Oh, my nephew builds websites too. [00:07:46]Which is that’s cute, but that’s very different than what I do too. So I think that the term freelancer is loaded and we tend to have to fight against that too, just even to get paid what we’re worth sometimes. [00:07:56]Frederick Weiss: [00:07:56] I think a lot that could contribute to that is the whole gig economy that everybody refers to lately is that a lot of people are like, you have this job, you have this job, you have this job and you don’t, maybe you might not specialize in one thing, but, honestly people are trying to just get by. [00:08:11] And especially in this environment, it’s really difficult. I don’t understand what’s wrong with the term freelancer and if that’s what you’re doing, that’s what you’re doing then. That’s great. But do you think more people should empower the term of CEO of X company? Like they should go out and make an LLC and go that way and post that on LinkedIn, is that for everyone to go down, or is that more of a very specific kind of thing? [00:08:37]If you know that you’re a specialist, maybe you want to pursue that path. [00:08:42] Dan Mall: [00:08:42] Yeah. I’m not so bold as to say Oh, everybody should start a company and have a company name and do all that stuff. That’s good for some folks and that’s not good for other folks. And I think, and I also didn’t mean to say that the term freelancer is a bad term. [00:08:53] It’s just that it means lots of different things. And so that’s, I think that’s the trouble with it is that we don’t know what it means. Some people who are freelancing are doing it between full-time jobs, and that’s the point of it for them is like they have a full-time job. They want to do their own thing for a while until the next full-time job. [00:09:09] And then other folks are like no, this is the business that I want to run, which is me being a hired gun for other studios or agencies or for direct decline or, whatever that is. And that’s, my job is to duck in and do my thing over here for a short amount of time. And then move along to the next thing. [00:09:23] Both of those are viable paths. Both of those are good paths. But we don’t know which one we’re talking about when we talk about the term freelancer. So depending on which one you are, depending on what you want to do with it, some freelancers go into it going I’m going to start with myself and I’m going to eventually grow into a larger company where I hire people and then others are like, Nah, I just want it to be me. [00:09:42]And I want to just do my own thing and be an independent person and work that way. So again, a freelancer is such a broad category that it feels like it’s an umbrella term for lots of different things. And some of the things that might come under those terms are like, there are people who are independent freelancers or independent business owners. [00:09:59] There are people who are one-person agencies, and that’s the way that they described themselves. There are, there are full businesses, there are hired guns, there are PERMA lancers, right? That’s another version of it where those are people who are freelancers that don’t work as W2 employees, but essentially do long stints or long contracts with companies. [00:10:16] So like, all of that is, is encompassed in the term freelancer. And anybody that’s a freelancer tends to have to qualify what they mean by that when somebody is trying to hire them, or they’re talking to somebody about what they do. [00:10:28] Frederick Weiss: [00:10:28] Yeah, it’s interesting because, and again we’ll dive into this in a minute, is you are the only employee at technically if that’s still correct at super-friendly and you have a re excuse the pun, an array of employees that, that work for you. [00:10:44] Which are freelancers and that’s how you could cite the best people for the position. And I’d like to just first start off by discussing the Sega Genesis hereof at the beginning of SuperFriendly because a lot of it was from my understanding of what I read about you. It’s the Oh, trying to find that the quintessential life-work balance, that we’re all seeking, we’re all hunting for, and for you wanted to spend more time with your family, which is admirable. We all want that. So you went that path and you started this company. Do you mind just telling us about what that was like, what that felt like, maybe, some trepidation, I imagine that there’s some fear of leaving your full-time job or starting this while you still have your full-time job, I’m not [00:11:25] Dan Mall: [00:11:25] sure. [00:11:26] Yeah, totally. So definitely there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of fear and a lot of risks, but I did things to try to mitigate some of that risk and some of that fear. One thing is I had a job that I love that paid me well. I worked at the time I worked at big spaceship, which is an agency in New York and they’re still around. [00:11:40] They’re still doing great stuff they’ve been around for, I don’t know, 20 years, 25 years, something like that. And it was my dream job. The problem was that I was working long hours there, and that’s that was part of the culture of, I think agency work. It wasn’t necessarily their culture, it was mostly like sometimes you’d work long hours to get work done. And so I just didn’t see a way out of doing that other than asking for things that I thought would be unreasonable, which is I know everybody’s working long hours here, but could I just work like five hours a day? [00:12:06] Would that be cool? Could I work here part-time somehow, but be treated like everybody else it was just, it just felt an unreasonable thing to be asking about. And so instead, what I tried to do was because I had that security of a full-time job, I was like, okay I can make an investment in that. [00:12:20] I can basically work two full-time jobs. I would work at the agency during the day, and then I’d come home and have dinner with my wife. And then I would work another full-time job, at night. And so I didn’t get a lot of sleep for that year, but I got to experiment with a lot of different things. [00:12:33]And before starting super-friendly, so when I started SuperFriendly in 2012, at that point, I had worked at other agencies for 12 years. I’m not really starting from scratch. I already had clients lined up. I had a good portfolio based on the work that I had already done, so like I had all these advantages, all this privilege, and starting an agency, it wasn’t like starting from scratch with anything. [00:12:52] It was like, it was, I had a lot of things already. As I worked the two full-time jobs, I was able to test how much I could charge a client, and not be afraid that a client was going to say no, because. I had a full-time job and I had a good salary. So if somebody said, Oh, the prices too high, it wasn’t like, Oh I’m not going to eat this month. [00:13:09]I didn’t have that risk. And I didn’t have that worry in a lot in a way that a lot of freelancers and a lot of business owners do because for, this industry is a lot of feast or famine. So I had all these things that I was able to test while I had a full-time job, but then mitigated the risk when I started SuperFriendly it was like, I already had clients lined up. [00:13:26] I already had contracts that I knew I could use. I already had a way of doing business that I’d already tested out. When I was freelancing. I had already tested the idea of could I build teams? And could that be a thing that I sell, teams of freelancers and H how do you organize those? [00:13:39] How do you direct them? How do you get everybody on the same page? Like all of those things, I had already experimented with those prior to today, one super-friendly. So I feel like I started at a pretty big advantage when starting my agency. [00:13:51] Frederick Weiss: [00:13:51] Yeah, that makes sense. And then I like too that you took that time to just experiment and see how it would work. [00:13:56] Like you said, feast or famine. It’s like the old thing where people would say, Oh, you, you just get on a bus and you go to LA and you become a movie star, right? Like it’s, maybe thinks about a strategy you have that full-time job and try freelance out while you’re doing that, while you can, make sure that you could still eat and experiments, you don’t have to go all-in where I think some personalities do or have to be sane. [00:14:22]Totally. [00:14:22]Dan Mall: [00:14:22] One of the things that were really helpful for me is I got to learn, by working for other people for so long, I got to learn on somebody else’s time. So I didn’t have to make mistakes on my own dime. I actually could do it. I actually could make mistakes and somebody else would pay me for that. [00:14:35]That is a massive privilege to have, and that is a massive advantage to have. And especially for those people, one of my superpowers is I’m able to learn from other people’s mistakes. I’m not the kind of person who has to make mistakes on their own in order to get the lessons from them. [00:14:47] So the ability to observe how other people do things and then mentally reconcile okay, yeah. If I ever had my own thing, like I would do that, or I would do that a little bit differently, or I would stay away from that. Like I had a lot of time and experience to be able to observe those things and then formulate, okay what would my version look like? [00:15:03]How could I remix all the pieces that I enjoyed? And then also eliminate some of the pieces that I thought were faulty, or I had a different version of how I wanted to try it out, and so that was a kind of a long time in the making, even though I didn’t realize that certainly at first that was a long time to making. [00:15:19] Frederick Weiss: [00:15:19] Yeah. So maybe we could talk about the model that you have with SuperFriendly again, discussing the whole freelance life and what goes into that. It’s again, you’re the only employee at super-friendly and you, I’ll let you say this in your own words, but from my understanding it’s, you’re sourcing the best people for a project. [00:15:39] You’re finding people that fit within that special unique need that challenge from the customer. And with that, you’re able to provide the best service moving forward. Am I understanding that, right? [00:15:52] Dan Mall: [00:15:52] Yeah. You got it. You got it exactly right. I’m the only employee and everybody else is a contractor. And what we try to do is. [00:15:59] Pitch that way, and say this is the best team for you. And one of the things that kind of led to that was, I remember when I was at big spaceship and working there, we pitched Crayola at the time. And we walked into the meeting and we had, there was four, four of us in the meeting and we all went with and introduced herself and said, Hey, I’m Dan I’m design director. [00:16:17] And co went around the table. And one of the people on the project is my friend Vic and Vic introduced himself as a strategist. He said I’m going to be the senior strategist working on this. And in a previous life, I was an elementary school teacher and the client stopped us. And he said hang on a sec. [00:16:31]Did you say you were an elementary school teacher? And Vic was like, yeah. I taught for, this many years. And the client Rob, who is the head of the digital at Crayola, Crayola does a lot of things for teachers and parents, and kids, in addition to making products, they really are invested in how kids learn and how creativity manifested learning. [00:16:47] So as soon as he heard that Vic was a teacher, an elementary school teacher, he was like you guys win. You all win then. That’s it like, will you? And I was like and that was it. The pitch was over. It was like, and it made me realize if you have the right people on the team, sometimes that’s how you win. [00:17:01]Sometimes the way that you win is the go you just have people on the team that other agencies don’t have, they don’t have. And so it made me realize if we could just have all the right people on the team at all at the given time, at the right time, then for some of those, we just win. [00:17:14] Like we win based on that now to employ all of those people would be incredibly expensive, but maybe they don’t have to be employed. Maybe they just have to be willing to commit a certain amount of time to the work, which I’m like, Oh, that sounds like what freelancers do anyway. So if all of the folks could be in the network could be in the Rolodex, it could be a phone call away. [00:17:32] And I could incentivize them appropriately, whether that’s with money or freedom or something interesting to do, or the team to work on or a client, whatever those incentives are. Perhaps there’s something there, perhaps there’s a model there that we could use. And so as I researched that more, I’m like that’s, I’m not inventing that’s called the Hollywood model. [00:17:48] That’s how Hollywood makes movies. Like the way that I talk about a Brad Pitt is not a full-time employee anywhere. Leonardo DiCaprio is not a full-time employee. They’re essentially contractors, right? To employ them, freelancers, actors, directors, photography, and they all come together for an amount of time, two years, three years, five years to make a movie. [00:18:08] And then they all go their separate ways after that. And they have no idea if they’re going to make another movie together again, maybe they will. Maybe the whole team will get back together. Maybe they won’t. But that doesn’t stop them from making something really good together or at least trying to, and I’m like, man, I Hollywood has that figured out. [00:18:22]So it could that model work in digital, and so that was the Sega Genesis of Superformance. [00:18:28] Frederick Weiss: [00:18:28] It makes me think of the Avengers where you have all these, like you said, these talented individuals that come together and make a movie and wow. That’s a team. [00:18:36]Dan Mall: [00:18:36] I prefer the super friends inside of the ventures, but, [00:18:38] Frederick Weiss: [00:18:38] Oh, is that where you’re going for? I noticed with a few of the companies there’s a super theme, maybe. Okay. We’ll leave it at that. So why don’t we discuss one of the new or newer you could tell me when this came out from my understanding, it’s a little bit new where the making design systems people want to use and I’ll share a share my screen so we can both look, we can all look at it together, but do you mind if we touch on that and talk about it a little bit? [00:19:03] Sounds good. Yeah. [00:19:09] So I imagine everybody could see this right now. [00:19:11] Dan Mall: [00:19:11] I can [00:19:11] Frederick Weiss: [00:19:11] see it. Perfect. Tell us about how this came about and w what design systems people don’t want to use as the title implies. [00:19:20] Dan Mall: [00:19:20] Yeah, sure. Super friendly. Is generally expensive. And I like to say, I like to think that’s because we deliver a lot of value to our clients and that they make more money from hiring us than they would by not. [00:19:33]And I hope that’s the case for every time. It’s probably not. But we’d like to try for that. And there are just some clients who need what we do or need what we know, but can’t hire us because they can’t afford to, or the timing’s not right. Or whatever. And so one of the things that we wanted to do for a long time is have something at all different price points. [00:19:50] So if there’s a client that can spend a million dollars, we have something for them and a client that can spend a thousand dollars, we have something for them. And we just, haven’t been good at filling in kind of the lower end of that. And so the course is the first step in that, which is we turn away a good deal of clients for lots of reasons, and one of those reasons is price. [00:20:07]We try to be as accommodating as we can, but for those that have a thousand bucks to spend, we don’t want to just say sorry, go away. It’s maybe you can take our course. Maybe you could learn about design systems. You still have to do a lot of the work on your own based on what you learn as opposed to hiring us, to help you with it. [00:20:20] But, at least that’s something that hopefully that’s better than nothing. So that’s where that course came from. And one of the things that we experienced every time we work with a client on design systems is every single day, the time when we go in and we talk to them, they go, we tried this design system thing like a year ago and I, a team here put together some components and they thought it’d be good. [00:20:37] And they shared it with all the other teams and then no one really used it. And we’re just not sure if a design system works for us and I’m like, Oh no, but it does. But every client, the screenshot you have up here, the episode for every client we’ve ever worked with has a design system, graveyards yeah, we tried it and then it died and then, we buried it. [00:20:52] And so we’re just not sure how to go about this. So that’s the thing is like, there is a process and there is a good way to get people invested in going I really want to use that design system, but there’s a lot of teams go about it the wrong way, even though it’s the intuitive way they go about it the wrong way. [00:21:06] So we just wanted to teach how we make successful design systems. I wanted to [00:21:12] Frederick Weiss: [00:21:12] read this because this echoes in my head of what you have here, it says it, it takes a specific process and mindset to make a design system that actually gets used. What, w what is the challenge? I understand that people. [00:21:27] Probably shy away from any kind of digital governance. They right away that a wall goes up and I’m not going to do this way. Human nature is people don’t want change. They w I’ve been doing it this way for three years and it works fine. If it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it. [00:21:44] What’s that summertime some summertime. Yeah. Anyway, but yeah what is it why do people not want to use these things some of the time? Why is there resistance? [00:21:54] Dan Mall: [00:21:54] Yeah, I think you nailed it. It’s all the human nature stuff. It’s all the but I’ve been doing it this way and you haven’t convinced me that your way is better, so that’s one thing. And how that specifically applies to a design system is what a lot of teams do is the goal. Let’s make a bunch of basic building blocks, right? We’ll make cards and tables and headers and footers and all that stuff. And then we’ll give that to all the teams internally and then a team will see it and they’ll go. [00:22:15] Yeah, but that card doesn’t have two buttons in it. And I need our cards to have two buttons instead of one. So therefore you can’t use it, it would take me longer to understand what you’re doing, modify it, add a new button, add another button without breaking anything. For that, I might as well just do it the way that I’ve been doing it. [00:22:30] Ah, just use bootstrap. And we hear that all the time bootstrap. Ah, who cares. Yeah. Yeah. Because they know how to use it. That’s the reason. And so just making a bunch of things and handing it to people go yeah, I use this, oftentimes they go but I can’t, or it just looks more difficult than the way I’m doing it now. [00:22:47] So all of the things that design systems are supposed to do, help you be more consistent, help you be more efficient. The adoption part of it is but it’s got to be better. Like it’s got to even be, it has to attract you by being better. And if that, if you don’t even clear that hurdle, then most folks go yeah, just keep using bootstrap. [00:23:04] It’s been fine. So so the human nature stuff is. How do you get somebody to do something new? You have to find their incentive and most teams don’t go far enough to find the incentive. What’s the incentive, to redo someone’s whole process of how they’ve been building something. [00:23:19] There is no incentive, usually in fact it’s the opposite. It’s usually a risk. Oh, so you want me to learn something new and use your thing? And if I don’t do it well, that potentially I could get fired or demoted. And if I do it well though, there’s no reward. So like, why would I do that? And so that’s usually the hurdle to clear is that the incentives aren’t made clear. And so part of the course is about going, like, how do you expose the incentives? How do you build it in a process that, exposes the incentives clearly and upfront, and then gets that automatic buy-in and that automatic kind of contribution process? [00:23:50] And that’s the idea of piloting that I think it’s episode five or something in the course. [00:23:56] Frederick Weiss: [00:23:56] Gotcha. Let me ask you, then that brings a, an interesting question. I think to me who exactly is this for? Who is the intended audience? Is this for somebody at a like a VP level to bring it to their team and say, Hey, I need a, I need everybody to watch this, understand it, or is this something that you could use possibly in an advantageous way as a tool to get a conversation started Hey, these people are coming in. [00:24:23]Why don’t we all take a look at these videos and they’ll help us understand where we’re going to go in the future. I don’t [00:24:30] Dan Mall: [00:24:30] know. Yeah. It’s less for VPS. It’s less for the C-level. I think those folks have different kinds of conversations than the conversation that we had in the course. So the course is mostly for Directors managers, people who are managing teams of designers and engineers, or product folks who just don’t have the language to talk about design systems. [00:24:48]They may be, they may understand it at a high level. They might understand like, yeah, the design system is mostly like a kit of parts that we can use to make other stuff faster. But then part of it is, especially when I talk to product owners or product managers and, even a lot of design directors are engineering managers. [00:25:03] When they look at it, Oh, when I think about a design system, they conflate it with Hey, that’s like a UI kit. And it’s no, not really, oh, that’s Oh yeah. We have a component library. That’s different. So I think part of it is just getting everybody on the same page, giving folks language on what to use to go here’s the difference between these things. [00:25:19] Here’s why one thing, here’s why a component library is different from a design system. And here’s why here’s how you could use a design system. Actually more to take more advantage of it than a component library. So a lot of it is for kind of director-level folks and managers who need to have the language and a more integral understanding of what their designers or their engineers or product folks are doing. [00:25:40]And then it’s also for practitioners too. It’s also for designers and developers. Mostly, designers understand what a design system is, but they don’t really understand how engineers work with the design system. And then vice versa engineers are like, yeah, I get what it is, but how that designer actually uses this. [00:25:54] So a lot of this is about understanding what the other side does. You know what if you’re an engineer, how does a designer work with this, and how do I work with a designer, to either make a design system or use a design system? So it’s for that tier of folks, it’s like directors and managers and practitioners in the design engineering kind of product trifecta. [00:26:13] Frederick Weiss: [00:26:13] Here’s an interesting comment from Todd Libby here. Two buttons go in one button, walks out a lot of this sounds like a comfort zone. People don’t want to leave. I think we touched on that. It’s a lot of it is just that I’m going to hold on to my blanket and you’re not going to take it away. [00:26:32] This is, this is my blankie, right? That’s a [00:26:35] Dan Mall: [00:26:35] fair analogy or not absolutely Todd Libby. That’s a great great thing. And thank you, Todd. It’s nice to hear a comment from you. Yeah, I think that’s true. It’s why would you give up your blankie unless you got a better one and unless you thought it was better, right? [00:26:48] Not that somebody else saying Oh, this is better. I have kids. I remember when they were younger. I couldn’t take their blankets away from them, even if I was like, but this one’s better. This one’s softer. This one’s new. This. It wasn’t attractive enough, and but once we find something to like, Oh, I’ll give you chocolate with it. [00:27:01] They’re like, okay, cool. I’ll give up my blanket. So like some, my chocolate it’s irrational sometimes it’s I don’t know. And I think you’ve got us, you’ve got to switch that brain totally. Exactly. So I think those are the things that, design system teams don’t have enough practice at that that stops us from, stops other teams from wanting to adopt the good work that we’re doing. [00:27:19]Frederick Weiss: [00:27:19] And I don’t want to go too deep in the woods in here, but I just want to touch on some of these things. Cause I, I think they’re important for maybe people that are trying to get their eye, their mind around what a design system is. And like for episode number three, here that you have component libraries versus design systems do just for the sake of brevity and getting that out there a quick explanation of a design system and why it’s not a component library. [00:27:45] Dan Mall: [00:27:45] Yeah, design systems are part of it. Yeah. Design systems are connected. That’s the big difference between component libraries. Aren’t you really connected to anything cause of component libraries you can copy and paste from, and that’s how you use them. I, if I use bootstrap as a component library, Oh, I copy the card code. [00:28:00]The HTML, I paste it into my thing, but if you update something if bootstrap updates, Oh, I got to go back and recopy and repaste. Oh, but I overrode my changes that I actually changed them up. It’s the connectedness. So most design systems I would venture to say almost all design systems are probably packaged, managed their software products. [00:28:19] They’re probably built on NPM or yarn or something that you can use as a dependency. And that’s what creates the connection between your app and the system itself. Right? Component libraries. Aren’t connected UI kits. Aren’t connected. So there’s a lot to cover there, but that’s the 62nd version. [00:28:35] Well, [00:28:35]Frederick Weiss: [00:28:35] And that’s why someone needs to go in and watch these videos because you go into all that and it’s I’m sure it’s a great explanation. When some of you had somebody actually watches the full video. The other thing I just want to briefly touch on. Cause again I don’t want to give everything away here is about the buy-in part. [00:28:52] So we talked about the friction, the resistance. So buy-in isn’t a thing that you get once before you create a design system, it’s an ongoing investment. So I just, found that so insightful because not every project is a living, breathing project. That’s not, you wrote a book. Books printed it’s done. [00:29:12] But also when you have these projects they live on, I think some of the videos that I’ve seen you talk about is, companies, they don’t have just one website now or this or that. It’s, they have a website, they have internet, they have X amount of websites. It’s there’s a, they have X amount of apps. [00:29:28] These are things that live and breathe and the [00:29:31] Dan Mall: [00:29:31] evolve as well. Absolutely. That’s the point of this stuff is and that’s why they have to maintain a connection because as your app evolves the system, and as the system evolves, you want both of those to move in stride, otherwise, when you disconnect it, that’s where we get legacy applications from. [00:29:46] And that’s where we get Oh, we haven’t touched that thing in seven years. And actually to update that would be its own project. And that would be a year-long project where it’s it doesn’t have to be, if you can architect it well enough, it doesn’t have to be. So I think, that’s the point of it is Digital things change, and that’s the advantage of them as opposed to, doing print work or something digital things can change and you can change them often. [00:30:05] So why not change them in a way that everybody gets the benefit of those changes? [00:30:09] Frederick Weiss: [00:30:09] Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. Yeah, so again we’ll put a link in the show notes for all that. So everybody could take a look at that and really explore those videos great stuff there. And the next thing I really want to talk about is arcade. [00:30:21] And I love this for design tokens. I don’t know if everybody gets the pun right away of putting the coin in. But for the, again, for the sake of brevity, if for the people that don’t know exactly what a design token is, I’d rather hear it from you as the expert. [00:30:35] Dan Mall: [00:30:35] Yeah, sure. For what it’s worth still workshopping this because it’s fairly new, I usually point people in other directions. [00:30:41] There’s a great video that Gina Anne made about design tokens. She put it on YouTube and on our Twitter. It’s great, it’s a much better explanation than I’ve ever given. So I usually point people there, the short version that I’ve got, the best that I’ve got so far here is I designed token is like a way to capture a brand decision. [00:30:57] So for example, think of every, any company that you might know of, or the company that you work with, you probably have the main brand color, right? So like Spotify has green and Lyft has pink and Hertz has yellow, all that kind of stuff and everything that you make. Is going to use that same brand color right now. [00:31:15] The problem is if you have to distribute that brand color, that’s a difficult problem to have. That’s why you see, Spotify as green is a little bit different everywhere because they’re not connected to one source. And so the idea of is if you could connect all those things to one source, if you could define the green in one place and then everything else that needs to use that green references, that one place, that way of Spotify green ever changes, or, they want to make it darker or lighter because they want to be more accessible or it goes through a rebrand and Spotify, green is not Spotify purple. [00:31:44]What’d you change in that one place. Every other place that is referencing that token then gets the ability to be updated. Again, this goes with the design system thing where once it’s connected, you get a lot of advantages. So design token is a way to capture some of that stuff. And it’s not just color. [00:31:58] Spacing its topography, it’s all, animation time, it’s all sorts of things like that. It’s capturing your brand properties, putting them in a place, and then allowing other things to reference them. So arcade is a way to store some of those, be able to interact with them in a much smarter way than some of the tooling that exists currently. [00:32:14]Frederick Weiss: [00:32:14] So why did, what exactly did you start this company? What, why what was the thing that you saw and you were like, you know what, I need to get this gone. [00:32:23] Dan Mall: [00:32:23] So it’s super friendly. We do a lot of design systems work as we talked about and every client that we work with wants to tool like this, and I don’t blame them. [00:32:31]So do we, we’re like a tool, like a tool that will help you capture these design tokens and put them somewhere and reference them. Would be great. And, we hard-code them, we do it manually. I know lots of teams that do that, or they build their own solutions for them and they’re just not sustainable. [00:32:45]There’s, they’re not sustainable in the same way that any custom-built tool that you make is not sustainable. It’s great. It probably works for your needs, but then that person leaves the company or like they get reallocated to something else. And then all of a sudden you’re stuck trying to maintain this thing that nobody else knows how to do. [00:32:59] So after years of actually just call our clients saying do you have a tool for this? And we’re like, not really, and for us being like, who is going to make this we figured we should make it. [00:33:11] Frederick Weiss: [00:33:11] Makes sense. It’s totally in your wheelhouse and what you guys are doing. [00:33:15]I wanted to read this, which is, it says here a fun way to create, edit and manage design tokens for enterprise teams. Use, you specifically use the language enterprise teams, which I get, but do you mind just talking about that pain point specifically for enterprise teams and how that can help mitigate some of that? [00:33:37]Some of the challenges. [00:33:38] Dan Mall: [00:33:38] Yeah, sure. So we worked with a client a year ago now, two years ago now. And they were undertaking a rebrand, and their rebrand was very minor. When you, compared to, when you talk about what rebrands generally are, if only think about rebrands, it’s like we’re going to change the logo and our color palette, and we’re going to have different messaging and we’re do all this. [00:33:57] So the rebrand for this company was, all of our buttons are currently yellow. We’re going to change them all to purple. That was the reboot. And I was like, okay. They estimated that effort to be I think three years and however many millions of dollars, right? Tens of millions of dollars, because they have that many apps. [00:34:16] They have that many products, they have that many things, and it’s we’re talking about one button change, like just changing the color of a button. But when you think about they have hundreds of apps, some are on legacy code. Some are not even on the current tech stack. Some, don’t even have people that know the technologies that they’re built on anymore. [00:34:33] Imagine going into those apps one by one and just see, if it’s architected well from a front-end perspective, maybe it’s changing a few lines of CSS, but not all of them are architected. Either. So imagine every app one by one, every site, every app you’re having to go in and we’re talking about iOS, we’re talking about Android, we’re talking about the web. [00:34:51] We’re talking about, kiosks, like all of that stuff. And it’s like changing the one button. A few years, a few dozens of millions of dollars, right? It’s a massive problem, and they’re not the only one like lots of companies have that same problem where it’s easier for them to just declare bankruptcy on the apps to go. [00:35:07]We’re just going to make a bunch of stuff from scratch. Cause it’s easier. Even that is a massive effort. What do you’re choosing between two really poor options? So that’s why we’re focusing on enterprise teams. Ultimately we might open this up to yeah, anybody that wants to use design tokens. [00:35:20] But right now it is such a pain point specifically for enterprises that have many digital apps that we want to try to solve that first. Because I think that there’s a lot of impacts there. And then maybe we can expand the user group to a little bit larger, but that’s where we’re starting on it. [00:35:35] Frederick Weiss: [00:35:35] Yeah, I can totally see if you have a larger company, like you said, changing the color or changing the logo across all the applications and websites and just being, yeah. Able to just do that in one, one spot with that now interacting with several different team members, several different times, or probably a lot more. [00:35:54] What am I talking about? Several hundreds of different team members all across the world. It’s yeah. It’s as you’re putting it out, that’s quite a challenge. Why don’t we, why don’t we discuss the podcast? I’m so interested in this podcast and so it’s the, get it out of your system podcasts, a clever name once again, when did you actually start this? [00:36:16] Dan Mall: [00:36:16] Oh boy. I think that was maybe three years ago or two years ago, something like that. So we have a season, a season out that’s about, I think, six episodes or something like that. We’ve been working on season two for a while, but it’s just been on the back burner because of other things. [00:36:28]But it’s a podcast where we ask guests one question we ask what’s the hardest thing that you’re dealing with in terms of your design system right now. And that’s it. And we go, as long as the conversation goes, some conversations are 10 minutes, some conversations with 30 minutes. We just follow all the rabbit holes, that we go down and it’s a pretty fun conversation with the folks that we’ve had so far. [00:36:46] Frederick Weiss: [00:36:46] So w why did you actually start the podcast? What was the inspiration for actually get into podcasting? I [00:36:55] Dan Mall: [00:36:55] like talking to people, I think that’s part of what it is and and and so that’s one thing the other thing is, and I think this is a common thread between all of our design system, things that design systems are so new. [00:37:06] I, generally relatively in our industry over the last decade that so many people and so many teams just don’t know if they’re doing it like everybody else, and they’re just like, we have no idea. We have no relative measure of this. And I think it’s important to hear from people like you in the positions that you’re in, the, for all the listeners like to hear that somebody else’s like having the same problems that you are, I think there’s a lot of comradery in that. [00:37:29] And I think, a design system is a community effort. Ultimately, when it’s done well, a design system is serving all of the different parts of an organization from product to engineering, to QA, to content, to, all of those things to brand. And I think that we need a sense of community in the design system industry, and I think that conferences like clarity and on the design system, Slack channel are doing a good job to capitalize on that. [00:37:51] And I feel like we need more of those things. Like I think those things are great and we need more. So to hear somebody else hear a design leader at Lyft or at, Google or at, wherever say yeah trying to convince people to use this thing as hard. I think we’ve gotten a lot of feedback from listeners to go like, oh, I’m having that problem too. [00:38:07] And I thought it was just me. So I think that was part of the impetus for the podcast is let’s just let people talk about the problems that they’re having. And we don’t, we actually specifically don’t get into the solutions a lot, it’s not Oh, and this is how we solve that problem. [00:38:19] It’s yeah, this is hard me too. And I think that even that is like as good enough for a conversation and a worthwhile conversation to have. [00:38:26]Frederick Weiss: [00:38:26] It’s nice to have that camaraderie. If I said that word, probably not, but it’s nice to be able to talk to somebody else about a problem that you’re having and them having a similar or the same problem, and just talking it out makes you feel a little bit better. [00:38:39] And sometimes you come up with an idea afterward, too. Exactly. Yeah. Speaking of, and I’m sure I’ll embarrass her. I know, we talked about Sarah’s book, which is building design systems. You should get her on the podcast. If you go to thunder nerds.io/ there’s a book, a funny URL, but she couldn’t be with us today. [00:38:59] She’s a, it’s our anniversary. Just wanted to wish her a happy anniversary, Sarah and Brian. I hope you’re feeling better. I know what you’re sick, but I wanted to throw that out there for a little happy anniversary to Sarah, but I’m sorry. Go ahead. [00:39:13] Dan Mall: [00:39:13] Oh, I was going to say happy anniversary, Sarah too. [00:39:15] And and I love that book. That’s a great book. I recommend that book to, for, to a lot of folks too. So thank you for writing that book. That’s very helpful. [00:39:22] Frederick Weiss: [00:39:22] Yeah. Speaking of books obviously, you have a well-known book out there that people love, which is let me see if I have an image of it. [00:39:30] So I had a good pricing design, which is a great book, but I saw a tweet the other day where you were talking about possibly a new book on the horizon. Any, anything you could tell us about that new book, anything at all? I hope I’m not putting you on the spot. [00:39:47] Dan Mall: [00:39:47] You are put on the spot. That’s okay. [00:39:48] I can tell you that it will probably be a book, Andy, probably with pages, but yeah, it might be some writing also in it by me, I think. [00:40:02] Frederick Weiss: [00:40:02] That’s it nothing else. [00:40:03] Dan Mall: [00:40:03] That’s what I got. [00:40:06] Frederick Weiss: [00:40:06] That’s perfectly understandable. Just one thought I try to just, edge it out a little bit and see if I could get [00:40:11] Dan Mall: [00:40:11] something out of you about that, but that’s fine. [00:40:13] You might get a gap here and there if you keep poking on it. [00:40:18] Frederick Weiss: [00:40:18] Cool. The other thing I wanted to talk to you about that I thought was really interesting is the envision app thing that you’re doing with I think it’s with Josh Clark and Brad frost. I’m not sure when that came out, is that fairly recent? [00:40:31] Dan Mall: [00:40:31] That was maybe two or three years ago. So I think maybe 2017 or 2018, something [00:40:36] Frederick Weiss: [00:40:36] around that, I’m in the past. I find it really interesting because I was going through some of the videos and it was just, this was very insightful. I, at least I thought so. I loved how you went into some of the episodes here the heartache of design here, actually, maybe I should scroll down a little bit here, which is here. [00:40:54] You guys are, and yeah. So the heartache of design at scale selling the value of design systems, which struck me funny. I wonder is it still difficult to sell the value at this point now? Two years later, [00:41:09]Dan Mall: [00:41:09] It is difficult. I think it’s difficult for different reasons two years later. [00:41:12] So I think that, when we made the podcast, or excuse me, we made the videos Selling the idea of design systems was still a thing that we had to do. We helped out a lot of our clients with doing that where like someone in an organization that usually comes up from the design or engineering or product group is I heard about this thing, or I know about this thing. [00:41:30] It’s really good, but nobody else here knows about it. So I just need help evangelizing the idea. So a lot of times we would help evangelize the idea of it. Nowadays, we almost get no pushback, from any level of the organization where people go yeah, I know a design system is worthwhile. [00:41:43] Like I get it. It’s a good investment for a company. What we’re doing though is when you have that conversation is still difficult and that’s the thing that people still do poorly. In, in my observation, which is that people what teams try to do is they try to sell it before they made anything. [00:41:58]And it’s like trying to sell vaporware. So what a lot of teams try and do is they try to say They try to make their case for if we had a design system, here’s the ROI, here are some examples of other folks that have done well with the design system and they try to sell their leadership on that, but it’s still vaporware. [00:42:12] Like you haven’t made anything yet. And you haven’t done anything about it. And so it’s hard to sell. It’s hard to say, if we had this, it would be great. And so do your leadership, would you drop a million dollars for us to, or half a million dollars or $3 million, whatever, however, many millions of dollars or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to even do this. [00:42:30] And leadership is no, because I don’t know what I’m buying yet, and I, for what it’s worth, I think that’s a smart decision. That’s what I would say if I were in there in their shoes too. And, and that goes to the kind of counter-intuitive way to make design systems is like you do, as you make a bunch of stuff first, and then you say to your leadership, we did this in a very specific way, and these are just little mini examples of what we could do. [00:42:53] And we want to try and scale that now. So you basically have to put your picture, you’d make your MVP, and then you pitch to leadership and you go, if you want us to do more of these things, now you just have to do the math. Now. It’s like the efficiencies that we had on these three small projects, multiply it by the number of teams. [00:43:08] We have the number of people. We have the number of products we have, and then they start to do the math and go Oh yeah, we could see how that, you know how that goes. And that becomes a much easier sell. So it’s more, it’s still difficult, but it’s difficult for different reasons than when we first made that video series. [00:43:21] Frederick Weiss: [00:43:21] Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I could see where somebody would bring that too. Like you were talking about the one things for, directors, but if you could bring that to a C level or a VP and communicate the value and really the bottom line of the cost, what is this going to save? [00:43:38] How is this going to make us more efficient, right? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I wanted to ask you about a few people DMV and they wanted to know more about your day-to-day, what actually you do at super-friendly. We can all guess that, obviously, you’re probably putting these design systems together. [00:43:56]You’re organizing with other members of your team. Do you mind just walking us through what that looks like? [00:44:02] Dan Mall: [00:44:02] Yeah, totally. I’m a, I’m pulling up my calendar now to go like, all right what’s even on my calendar. What have I been doing the last couple of days? I don’t work on projects anymore. [00:44:09] I haven’t worked on projects in a couple of years. I am probably bad at them at this point. And like a little too salty about client work now. So it’s probably better that I don’t work on projects. So for me, super-friendly is my project. Last year, so like we’ve covered earlier. [00:44:24] I’m the only employee. And I think a lot of folks are like, Oh, that probably means super friendly as a small crew. Last year we had about 60 people working on super-friendly projects across the year. So it’s like running a 60 person agency except some of the rules aren’t defined yet. [00:44:37] So my time is generally spent working on super-friendly to figure out, like, how does the model work? How does it scale? How do we pitch? I do some marketing stuff for super-friendly. So yeah, that’s the stuff that I do. I’m looking at my, my, my stuff today my calendar today. [00:44:52] So what I did today was this morning, I had a conversation with a writer who’s helping me express what super-friendly values are so that we can publish that more and more about how we work. So I talked to her about that. Then, Oh, today I had Every Thursday, we have an, what we call opportunities to call where for every super friend, whether they’re working on a project or not, we invite everybody to hear about all the leads that we have and what the opportunities are for super-friendly. [00:45:17] So if anybody wants to work on a project or they want to hear about what’s going on, we had, we have that open every Thursday. So I did that, today I talked to my co-founder at the arcade. We had a one-on-one on what’s the vision of this product? Where do we want to go over the next couple of months? [00:45:30]I talked to my head of operations today because she was like, I have a better way for us to do everything. I’m like sweet. So she shared with me some diagrams that she’s been making about what if we did things this way? I’m like, that’s awesome. I had a one-on-one after that with our designer at arcade Julia. [00:45:46]And I did some critiquing with her. And so that was my day. That was my day today. If I were to describe to you my day yesterday, it will look completely different than that, but those are the kinds of things that I do. And most of it is not really, designing much, although I should say today, I designed a new landing page for arcade, to work on with Julia, so I designed like half of it and then handed it off to her to finish up. [00:46:06]I still do some stuff like that. It’s kinda random. I don’t know if that helps answer the quiz. Yeah, I think [00:46:12]Frederick Weiss: [00:46:12] Are you still one of those early, earlier, early-bird people? I can’t get my mind around that because I’m a night owl, but one of the things I read or saw about the use that you get a lot of your work done between five and seven. [00:46:24] Is that still true? Does that [00:46:27] Dan Mall: [00:46:27] resonate? I get up usually around four 30, five o’clock in the morning. I work for about an hour or two before, like getting my kids ready for school and dropping them off at school. And so that’s my time where I’m alert, my brain is ready. It’s I’ve slept. [00:46:39] I have rest. And my brain is like, cool, let’s go. Let’s do some things. I’m like, all right, excellent. Nobody’s tweeting at me. Nobody’s emailing. Nobody’s slacking. Nobody’s that so that’s the time where I’m like, all right, ready to go. And I get most of my work done it at that time [00:46:53]Frederick Weiss: [00:46:53] For the people that say wow how does Dan do all this stuff? [00:46:56]Is it more just that, it’s part of your lifestyle. Like for example if you want to be a runner, if you run, I run. If you want to run, you can’t miss a day because it’s easy to fall off and then not do it again. You have to live it. And it seems to me like what you described in your schedule there, which is very busy, it’s just, this is just the way you live. [00:47:15] This is your life is part of an integral part of your life, [00:47:19] Dan Mall: [00:47:19] right? W with work. I think so. I think it’s relative, right? Cause like it’s surprising to me when somebody is like, Oh, you get so much done because I feel like I admire other people. I’m like they get so much done. [00:47:30] So relatively, I don’t get a lot done, but it is relative. So I think part of it is that part of it is just, what your frame of reference is. The other part of it is and I was lucky to learn this I don’t know, maybe 10 years ago in my career, which is there’s this thing called Parkinson’s law. [00:47:45]Do you know Parkinson’s law? I’m talking about, I’m not aware of no, right? It’s Parkinson’s law says something to the effect of work expands to the time allotted to do it. Something like that, which is if you give yourself eight hours, if you give yourself eight hours to do a thing, how long is that thing going to take to do probably eight hours? [00:48:00]If you give yourself four hours to do it, probably take four hours. So I, I believe in the corollary of that too, which is that work contracts to the time that you give yourself to do it. Before in the past, like I remember when I was working at one job. I always thought that okay, in order to do like a concept, round of design, that takes a week. [00:48:17] And then I remember starting, and this is when I worked at happy cog. We took a week to do design rounds and use them to adjust a design concept. And then when I w when I left happy cog and worked at big spaceship, the first day that I started at big spaceship, they were like, Hey, Dan you’re working on this project now. [00:48:31]They onboarded me and we want you to do a concept. I’m like, okay, cool. Like how long do I have to do this? And they were like, Oh, let’s do it at the end of the day. And I was like, Okay. I was used to having a week, but I didn’t want to be the new guy who was like no. [00:48:43] I want more time. So it’s yeah, of course, I can do it. And you know what I got to do by the end of the day. So it just taught me that work doesn’t have a defined time, like you define the time you time box it. And so I’ve gotten really good at that because I’ve been able to practice that a lot. [00:48:56]So now I know, if I have an hour to get a Compton like I can do it in an hour. If I have, three weeks to get a comp done, I can do it in three weeks. And so I’ve been able to compress my work into the time that I have, because that’s the time that I have, having kids, certainly accelerated that as well, where I’m like, ah, I just don’t have the time that I had. [00:49:13] So I, my work has to now fit in a smaller box. And every time that happens to me, I’m like it fit in the smaller box. So with COVID, I stopped working, I would, I usually worked about like 30 to 35 hours a week because of COVID because my kids were home and then figuring out like, who like, is my wife doing homework with them? [00:49:30] Am I doing homework with them? Is she going to sit with them during the day? Am I going to sit with them during the day? All of that stuff, what I started to do was like, okay, I’m just not going to work in the afternoon. Cause like I can’t. So I would work in the morning and then I would stop in the afternoon with my wife. [00:49:43] My wife could work in the afternoon. And so I, my schedule became around like 20 hours a week and you know what, I got the same amount done. So it’s the as, as much as I keep contracting my work, it still gets done. Maybe not to the quality that I want it to, but that’s always been the case when I had a week to do it. [00:49:59] It was still not at the quality that I wanted it to be. When I had three weeks to do it. It was still not at the quality that I wanted it to be. So it’s like. I learned to be freer about that stuff and to go I’m not too worried about the quality of the work. Let’s let that be a later thing. [00:50:11] I can always iterate my way there let’s, there’s a time that I have. And so I’ll try to use that wisely. [00:50:16] Frederick Weiss: [00:50:16] That’s excellent advice. Dan, we’re getting right at the end of the show, and as I asked you before we started, if you could play us out a little bit, but first I want to get to obviously we’ll put a link in the show notes to all the places where people could find you, which is Danmall.me. [00:50:30]There is your Twitter account, which goes by your name, Dan mall. I see a pattern here. Use arcade.com and friendly design. systems. All really cool names, which I like a lot. But I’d love to ask you at the end here if you could provide any final words of wisdom for our audience. So to you. [00:50:54] Dan Mall: [00:50:54] Oh man. That’s the toughest question you’ve asked so far? Be kind, I think, to yourselves, to other people the people that you work with, the people that you interact with. I think that we are all guilty at some level of working too hard. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter that much, a lot of the stuff that we do, I think that we are lucky, generally as web designers and developers and all that to do this, the things that we do I often have to remind myself that I’m not saving lives in ways that other people do, and so when I get stressed out like it’s a good way to remain relative, to go what I do is a good choice and a good privilege for me. And what I try to do with that is being kind to myself, give myself breaks, be kind to the team that I have been kind to my family, to all the people that I interact with. [00:51:34] And I would like it if other people were kind to me too. If anybody interacts with me, please be kind to me as well. I [00:51:41] Frederick Weiss: [00:51:41] liked that. I think I actually one of the things I saw in your house, not that I’m looking into windows, but one of them, one of the photos I saw was like a be nice and let people be nice to you. [00:51:50] one of the golden rule things, right? [00:51:53] Dan Mall: [00:51:53] Maybe I dunno if that was me. It might’ve been somebody else. [00:51:56]Frederick Weiss: [00:51:56] No. It’s you, it’s definitely you it’s in one of your photos, I’ll put a link to it. Cause it’s definitely you. The last thing before we end the show, I just wanted to get in Todd, Libby’s come in here. [00:52:05] He wanted to ask you how was the Whoopie pie that came with the lobster roll care package. [00:52:10] Dan Mall: [00:52:10] It was very good. I’m not a Whoopie pie fan. Todd was kind enough to send me lobster rolls in the mail because I told him I’d never had any before. So he sent me a really great care package with some will-be pies and some delicious chips and lobster rolls. [00:52:25] It was all delicious. Thank you. Thank you, Todd, for all that. [00:52:28] Frederick Weiss: [00:52:28] That’s awesome. And if you don’t mind Dan, again we’re at the show. Do you want to play us out a little bit, a little something on the piano? I know you’ve played the piano since you were three years old from my understanding, right? [00:52:39]Dan Mall: [00:52:39] Yeah. That’s right. Yep. I got a panel here. I don’t know how the audio is going to pick up, but we’ll try. I’ll give it a [00:52:42] Frederick Weiss: [00:52:42] shot. Let’s try it out. Yeah, there we go. Dan mall everybody. [00:53:42] nice. That was really cool, man. Thanks for sharing that with us. I remember when we talked back at event depart, you were telling us how you play the piano since you were three and you enjoyed it and your parents didn’t really force you into learning it, but you just kinda picked it up and you really enjoyed it. [00:54:00] Dan Mall: [00:54:00] Yeah, that’s right. And to this day, I’ve got a piano in my office. Whenever I want to take a little break, I try to play a little bit. [00:54:07] Frederick Weiss: [00:54:07] Yeah. It’s nice to have that separation to just step away from your screen for a minute and just be a part of the world. [00:54:12] Dan Mall: [00:54:12] Absolutely. It does a weird thing. [00:54:14] When I switched between the piano keyboard and the keyboard on my desk. It’s like my brain doesn’t catch up fast enough. It’s very trippy. [00:54:22] Frederick Weiss: [00:54:22] There’s no control Z on the piano. It’s weird. No, none. Dan, thank you so much for sharing your time with us. Time is the most important thing that we could share and really appreciate it really humble. [00:54:33] Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. [00:54:35] Dan Mall: [00:54:35] It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me on the show. Our, [00:54:37] Frederick Weiss: [00:54:37] our pleasure, honestly some applause from Todd. He very much liked your like you’re playing well. Thanks, everybody for watching. Really appreciate it. And we’ll see you next time again. Thanks, Dan. [00:54:50] Dan Mall: [00:54:50] Bye all.
Episode 003 - Putting Your Components in Context with Dan Mall
The Object-Oriented UX Podcast
What’s up OOUXers, this conversation with Dan mall is bonkers…Dan Mall is one of the leading experts in design systems — he’s the cofounder and creative director at Super Friendly, a design collaborative that brings design system guidance, leadership, and execution to companies like Capital One, Girl Scouts, Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, and so many more. He’s the creator of a new design system course, not out yet, but check out the link below to sign up for updates so you can be the first to know about it. Dan and I discuss the personality traits that make a good system designer, how to start a design system project the right way, we debate the pros and cons of “flexible cards” which can lead to what I call masked objects, and we come up with a plan for how OOUXers can fill a needed gap in the design system world…putting components in context and rooting them in the real world valuable objects that users and businesses care about. LINKS: Get on the waitlist for Dan’s Design System Course: https://superfriendlydesign.systems/classes/design-systems-with-superfriends/ Dan’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/danmall Josh Clark’s referenced article: https://bigmedium.com/ideas/boring-design-systems.html--- Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/ooux/support
How to put a price on service design / Dan Mall / Episode #107
Service Design Show
When it comes to putting a price tag on service design many people struggle. It can be hard to articulate the value that you create through your work. Therefor many service designers just avoid the topic in general.What if you would treat the pricing of service design as a design challenge in itself where the goal is to come up with a solution where all parties benefit? The conversation about value, price and money becomes much less uncomfortable!In this episode. Dan Mall explains how you can do that through an approached called value based pricing. The things you're going to learn in this episode will not only help you to charge more for your work while at the same time delivering more value for your clients.--- [ GUIDE ] -—00:00 Welcome to episode 10701:40 Who is Dan03:20 60 second rapid fire05:40 Why talking about value matters08:30 Feeling valued09:30 The stigma around business11:00 Object value pricing13:15 The basis of value pricing15:00 Creating alignment around a goal18:10 What is important to you19:10 The dangerous separation between business and design21:00 Challenger sales24:10 Setting a benchmark27:00 Prototyping with numbers29:45 Giving guarantees31:40 Pricing experiments35:20 When do you start charging38:00 Do this in every sales conversation40:45 Look for win-wins42:30 Recommended resources43:30 Get in touch with Dan43:55 Final thoughts--- [ LINKS ] ---* http://danmall.me/* https://twitter.com/danmall* https://www.linkedin.com/in/danmall/* https://superfriendlydesign.systems/* https://www.relay.fm/presentable/59* https://jonathanstark.com/--- [ BOOKS ] ---* https://abookapart.com/products/pricing-design* https://www.winwithoutpitching.com/pricing-creativity/* Implementing Value Pricing - https://amzn.to/3amGurq* The Challenger Sale - https://amzn.to/2Dy35W4* Shark Tales - https://amzn.to/2XRkLmd--- [ MORE ] ---Enjoyed the show? Take a look at some of the other episodes.https://go.servicedesignshow.com/spotifyYOUTUBEEvery episode of the Service Design Show is also available as via the official YouTube channel.https://go.servicedesignshow.com/youtubeINSTAGRAMGet an exclusive behind the scenes look of the Show.https://go.servicedesignshow.com/instagram--- [ FREE COURSE ] ---HOW TO EXPLAIN SERVICE DESIGNLearn what it takes to get your clients, colleagues, managers, CEOs and even grandmas as excited about service design as you are!https://servicedesignshow.com/free-course
…on climbing some mountains. Dan Mall is a creative director and advisor from Philly. He’s also the founder and director of SuperFriendly, a design collaborative that brings exquisite creative direction and design to the world’s most important and interesting organizations. Dan joins the show for a conversation about why he still loves Flash, giving yourself permission to stop reading a book, and letting smart people do what they do best.
On this episode of the Businessology Show, Jason Blumer reconnects with co-creater, Dan Mall! Dan is also the founder and director of SuperFriendly, which is a teaching agency. Meaning they help in-house design teams create systems to make a better design product. Dan gives Jason details on how this type of agency runs and the benefits of being a teaching agency.
4. Dan Mall: How do design systems work in enterprise organizations?
Design Systems Podcast
Dan Mall calls in from the East coast to chat with Chris about design systems and their role in enterprise organizations. How does this affect the teams that work on them? The guys also discuss what digital products actually are in relation to design systems. How to create a "one ring to rule them all" type of system and does that even exits? They continue to dive into agile, designers' roles, how teams are finding they're wasting time, and much more.Dan MallCreative Director, Advisor, CEO and Founder of SuperFriendlyDan Mall is a creative director and advisor from Philly. He’s the founder and CEO of SuperFriendly, a design collaborative that helps in-house teams make better digital products with design systems. Dan is an enthralled husband & dad, author of Pricing Design, and co-founder of SuperBooked, a service that helps you find work with a little help from your friends. He writes about design and other issues on Twitter and on his industry-recognized site, danmall.me.You can find Dan on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Octavius, Adam, & special guest Dan Mall take a Retrospective look at Superman: The Movie (1978)🤜🏾💥🤛🏻#ComicBookJuntoSubmit your questions for our Talk Back segments using #AskCBJ on twitter.E-mail us your questions and feedback at firstname.lastname@example.orgGrab some official Comic Book Junto merchandise at https://cottonbureau.com/people/comic-book-juntoSupport the Junto by becoming a Comic Book Junto Patreon Memberwww.patreon.com/comicbookjuntoGrab some official B3AR FRUIT merchandise at cottonbureau.com/people/b3ar-fruitFollow Octavius on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat at @OctaviusANewmanFollow Adam on Twitter, & Instagram at @adamteterusFollow Adam on Snapchat at "adjoterus"Follow Comic Book Junto on Twitter, & Instagram at @ComicBookJuntoFollow B3AR FRUIT on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat at @B3ARFRUITTheme music for Comic Book Junto is by Daniel SteeleCheck his music at @danielsteelemusicFollow Daniel on Twitter at @DSteeleMusicFollow Daniel on Instagram at @DanielSteeleMusicThis episode of Comic Book Junto was edited by Average Joe. Follow Average Joe on Twitter at @AverageJoeDela