Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

This article is joint-authored by David (Grue) DeBry and Amber Sawaya.


All of the rules changed in 2020 with the spread of COVID-19. We all have things we used to do in person that we’re now trying to figure out how to do remotely. There are some things that seem impossible to change!! It’s hard to imagine, say, going to a convention without being surrounded by people.

It turns out that not only can you hold those sorts of events remotely, but there are benefits to doing so. …

Your Product is one piece of your success—is your product marketing website pulling it’s weight? A UX Audit and 10 key take aways.

Product Website Hero Shot

I’ve been reviewing a lot of product websites lately. My company recently completed the acquisition of a design firm in Boulder and the merger of two additional firms in Salt Lake City. The result is Anchor & Alpine, and we’ve taken this reboot as an opportunity to review how we manage different processes and which tools we want to continue to pay for (the subscriptions are killing our bottom line, you dig me?).

As we review, we end up doing subconscious UX audits on the websites we visit. What’s working? What makes sense? Who is pushing too much on their…

Fine-tune your processes so you can capture more work

Photo: LinkedIn Sales Navigator via Unsplash

Welcome to 2020. This is going to be your year to make the most of your design business. At least, that’s what we’re going to do at Anchor & Alpine. I want all of us to take this time to get our agencies in order to capture more business from the right kinds of clients. These are some ways we can do that.

  • Sales pipeline management
  • Proposal process
  • Contract review

Sales pipeline management

Do you have a sales pipeline? Is it working well for you?

Productivity is all about the most efficient use of time in the moment — set up your Apple Watch for the most meaningful displays of time.

Productivity is all about managing time—our most personally important non-renewable resource. No matter what hacks, systems, or beliefs you have about productivity—it’s all about time management.

I resisted getting an Apple Watch for several generations, but now I’m a convert and after several experiments, I’ve landed on an ideal configuration for productivity and efficiency.

Ideal Apple Watch Configuration

My Apple Watch: Day of the Week; Day of the Month; Time of day; Timer; Jellyfish.

^ This is my watch configuration.

Top right: Macro view of the day of the week and day of the month. This keeps me aligned with how much of the week I have left and how much of the month I have left. …

Risks to watch out for and opportunities to snag

Photo: NeONBRAND/Unsplash

I have the best worst timing. But my long and successful career has been catapulted by that bad timing.

In the early 2000s, I graduated college and went looking for my first salaried design job. The dot-com bubble had just burst. There were layoffs everywhere, especially in design. I was going up for entry-level jobs laying out grocery store ads against creative directors from the biggest and most prestigious ad agencies in town. This taught me perseverance, how to stay organized, and the grit to stick it out and find a design job (some of my fellow graduates did not).

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

I’ve been unemployed for the first time in my career.

It was by choice, thankfully, but only kind of. This wasn’t an, “I’m going to take a creative sabbatical and find myself.” This was, “I will not work here for one more minute,” kind of sabbatical. So in July of 2019, I resigned, changed my LinkedIn to ‘retired’ (because that’s funny) and booked some road trips and planned some parties.

This isn’t a travelogue of what I did this summer, I’d be as bored by that as you. …

Google Theme Homepage with Chrome Inspector

I was sick of my designs coming out “reinterpreted” by developers, so I learned to code. There are lots of reasons designers learn to code, not the least of which is a thousand articles screaming that they should. Worse, the job applications for design or marketing jobs that casually throw in things like “must know HTML, CSS, Javascript, and WordPress.” …

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

This article is joint-authored by Amber Sawaya and Mr. Grue.

It was one of those days when you have to fire someone. If you’ve ever done this you know that the gravity and empathy around removing someone’s income is heart wrenching. And it should be. This is the big stuff you have to deal with at a company.

On this particular day we knew someone needed to go, but one of us was having cold feet and pretending it could work it out, despite those efforts failing in the past. Despite the damage being done to the client relationship. Despite…

Photo by Ricardo Resende on Unsplash

Keeping your team motivated and moving in the same direction is something we all want. Checking in with your team quarterly is something we all do. Caring about your team’s growth and career trajectory is something we all say we want.

A couple of years ago I spent time making these ideas real, actionable, and connected. I did this through a Core Values exercise.

Photo by Krisztian Tabori on Unsplash

A letter to my friend, Robbie, that I thought other people embarking on a design career could use.

Dear Designer,

You are about to embark on one hell of a career. You are drawn to graphic design for the same reasons I was — I wanted to live a creative life and have an artistic career.

Let me tell you, Graphic Design is a fantastic career choice. My design career has afforded me freedom, flexibility, adventure, and security. I once got to live in the Canary Islands for free for a whole month to do design support for a non-profit…

Amber Sawaya

Design Agency Partner • 40 Under 40; I write about design/UX, the state of design and tech, startups, joy, & productivity. 🖤☕️📓👩🏼‍💻🏴‍☠️

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