“Wow, your job sounds awesome! So what do you do all day?”
This is a question I get pretty often from friends and people that I meet, especially since my role is in the creative industry. I always love learning about how others work: how they use software, what their workflow entails, and how their day progresses in general, so I wanted to share my experience. This post won’t be an hour-by-hour description of what I do, but I hope to give you a glimpse into what it’s like to be a designer at Jackrabbit.
P.S. – You may remember me from the A Day in the Life of an Intern post in 2012. Time flies!
The best part of being a designer at Jackrabbit is that everyday is different. There are always different tasks, different clients, and different projects to work on, plus the occasional boat day thrown in.
Typically, the first thing I do (after surviving the morning drive on I-93) is check on my emails and to-do list for the day. We currently use Basecamp to manage our time, project deadlines, and the majority of our project communications. Through Basecamp, I can check on new messages from our project managers, what I need to get done for the day, and make sure that my workload is appropriate. From there, I’ll start working!
The number of projects throughout the day varies. Some days, I’ll have about ten smaller things to accomplish that day for different clients and internally, but other times it might be two or three bigger tasks that require more time, such as a homepage design concepts for a website where I need to try out different layouts, colors, styles, and typography.
I will usually try to get the smaller, quicker projects done before lunch. That way, I know that I will have the rest of the day to spend on the more time-intensive projects. It’s like taking a standardized test back in school: answer the questions you know you can finish first and come back to the ones that are a little more challenging later. However, as a designer, you will sometimes get into the zone on a particularly engaging project where ideas just flow to you and you are able to crank out designs in quick succession. For me, this is where the fun happens and where the best work comes from!
What about meetings?
In general, I’ve found that it’s rare at Jackrabbit to have an all-hands-on-deck-style meeting. I think that this really helps us be efficient with our time, allows us to focus on our work, and keeps our schedule flexible. Additionally, our open office space means that we can always wheel our chairs over to someone’s desk for any clarification or to just chat, but splitting our communication among Basecamp and Slack really streamlines how we interact with each other throughout the workday.
Because our time is so flexible, new projects and kickoff meetings can be held instantly. I can always create time and ask for feedback internally on something I’m working on, and we have the flexibility for an impromptu group treat!
What types of projects do you work on?
Personally, about 65% of my work is probably web-related, while the other 35% is print. It’s worth repeating that being able to switch it up and work on a variety of projects is hugely refreshing for me. We have a few designers that are in the same boat and work on both web and print projects. However, some designers are more specialized with years of expertise in a certain area, so it’s great to see that the types of projects divvied up between designers are tailored to our strengths.
How do you stay inspired on a day-to-day basis?
I think it’s always important to step away from your own work and see what your contemporaries are doing and talking about. Every few hours, I’ll be going through galleries and blogs like Behance, Dribbble, and Brand New to continue to stay inspired and see new work. Internally through Slack, we are constantly sharing cool things we come across, new tools to try, and, of course, GIFs to keep things fun.
How collaborative are you guys?
As one of the younger designers here, it’s important for me to keep my art directors and project managers up-to-date on the design work I do to make sure that I am on the right track in making the design rock-solid and meeting the clients’ goals. From that standpoint, our team is always talking to each other, getting feedback, and checking up on each others’ work. From a client’s perspective, our timelines may seem long, but the time we scope allows us to come up with solutions that we think will satisfy all stakeholders.
So what do designers do after work?
A few times throughout the year, we’ll take classes to learn new skills or keep old ones sharp. Other days, someone may bring in board games or even their entire desktop PCs to demonstrate their virtual reality headsets for us. Otherwise, we’ll head home and make sure to get outside, spend time with our families, and get away from our screens to avoid burnout so that we can continue to do great work!