Interview | SuperFriendly Founder Dan Mall | Sharing Culture & Our Myopic Tech Society


I’m Dan Mall I’m a creative director and
a founder of my own design collaborative in Philly called super friendly I’ve been really lucky to work with
that I have and they’re all so generous and I think maybe that’s maybe the best
way that I can the best thing that I can take from it and maybe the best thing
that I can pay forward to is generosity I think all of those people are
incredible in what they do and what they’ve done but I think more so what
stands out even above that is just how generous they are in terms of sharing
you know I think the I grew up in in the web and a culture of sharing which is
why I do what I do is speaking at conferences and writing blog posts and
teaching and is because people did that for me and I wouldn’t be where I am
today had they not done that both publicly and and directly with me and so
I feel like it’s it’s all I can do to kind of pay that forward so super friendly it’s almost seven
years in the making that’s longer than I’ve done anything I’ve always worked
the jobs for about three or four years at a time so super friendly is is great
it’s doing great um I think we’re working with clients
that are adventurous I think that’s one of the things that I’ve always wanted to
do is with clients that want to take risks and sometimes that risk is doing
something ultra simple or doing something that maybe they were scared to
do otherwise and I feel like our teams do a good job of sort of help helping
our clients just give them confidence about what they’re gonna do and why it’s
gonna be okay and that comes from research and experience and design and
collaboration and all of those things so I’m having a blast doing that stuff it’s
been it’s been a while to try to build up to that point and I’m glad that it’s
there my conference talk is about
collaboration I find that a lot of designers and developers think that they
collaborate but really we’re stuck in this kind of waterfall process and I
think that work is fun when you work with people I think that’s the best part
about it is just having fun with the people that you’re working with and
learning from them and being able to teach them things and just having a good
time and I and so part of my message in my talk and just like this generally is
how do we get to have more fun by taking the best of what we know and sharing it
with everybody else so I like to share like really actionable takes tips and
tricks that people can take to their jobs they can start doing this tomorrow
or start trying this I don’t mean to to preach it as Dogma but for people that
are like well we’re having a tough time doing this you know what I hope to share
is well here’s a way that you could try that’s different you know and maybe this
will work for you part of the business model of
super-friendly is that I’m the only employee and I create bespoke teams for
clients what that means is we can’t really rely on process that’s like well
let’s just do it the way that we did the last project because the team doesn’t
know what the last project was like and so I think the process and the tools are
really about asking everyone on the team how should we do this that’s usually the
first step is what should we do and how should we go about it and then what
naturally follows from there is well what tools do we use to accomplish that
and I think every project one of the things that is my favorite about it is
that we do use new tools because sometimes the thing that we’re trying to
achieve we haven’t tried to do that before and it’s a little bit of
reinventing the wheel but I think we get some benefit out of that is every time
we are deciding together this is how we’re gonna do this one and these are
the tools we’re gonna use and these are the processes that we’re gonna use and
personally I get a lot of exposure to things that I wouldn’t have done on my
own whether that’s you know we’re gonna try this one
waterfall we’re gonna try this one scrum fall or we try do this one you know
whatever the process is or we’re gonna try these new tools and I find out a lot
of energy from that I don’t know a ton about progressive Web
Apps but I do think from what I know about them I think they’re only valuable
you know I think they’re like there are things that sort of are no brainer that
like why not create offline modes for the things that we’re doing why not
cater to experiences that aren’t exactly the one that we designed for I think it
helps build empathy and inclusiveness and so while I don’t know a lot about
the technical details of how to build progressive website Web Apps and how to
design for them I think its principles are really great and I wish that more of
our work shared that stuff it’s an interesting time for designers
because especially graphic designers and UI designers we’re used to making things
that are represented through pixels now we have to think about experiences that
you could only hear or only see or only touch or only smell you know maybe and I
think that that still fits in a designer’s skill set and so as I think
about what we’re doing and how we prepare for that you know I went to
design school but I don’t know how to design a voice anything in class on how
to design for voice lots of people are teaching about that and writing about
that so I think that’s that’s great I think the skills that prepare us for
that kind of world are skills about how to how to listen to people you know
skills about how to care about what other people are doing especially if
they’re different than we are I think that we have a somewhat of a myopic tech
society right now I think the more that we care about well what happens when
people can’t see this or what happens if somebody has an impairment and and I’m
thinking about those kinds of things I think we’ll make our world better and
I’m excited for how designers can grow if they’re if they continue to focus on
those things

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