How the Designers’ Digest came to be

The Designers’ Digest is STRV’s very own weekly roundup of (mostly) design-related goodies. You probably never wondered why such a thing exists, but I wanted to tell you about it anyway.

It was almost the end of the week, and the design team had already been swapping a bunch of cool finds we’d found with each other. Such gems included a new experiment straight from Google’s playground, an alleged misstep Your Favorite Startup took with their latest redesign, this sweet monospace font someone posted online for free or even that hilarious game where Leo is, futilely, trying to reach the Oscar he has deserved for years. Actually… did anybody else get a slight bittersweet sensation after that game was rendered irrelevant by reality?

Just like all of the departments at STRV do, the design team meets on Fridays for 30 to 45 minutes to have a little catch-up and discuss the latest news on the scene, brainstorm ideas on how to make things better within the team (or sometimes, even company-wise), show off what we worked on throughout the week, have some snacks together… and of course, unleash our best weekly finds. In short, a great time for a bit of chill amidst busy weeks while not going completely off-topic. It took but a few months before we realized that we consistently kept compiling a good amount of sweet, (mostly) design-related goodies to entertain, inspire or simply spark discussion between us.

Suddenly, people outside of the design team started attending our meetings. On top of that, they were having a fun time!

We figured that if there was slight interest in what we do and talk about within our company… maybe people outside of the STRV bubble would find it enjoyable as well? We decided to experiment: what if we make a pilot run where we compile some of the most relevant design news we discussed at our meeting, spice them up a bit with team commentary — attempting to simulate a conversation — and finally, we can add the beloved “we found this on the Internet” segment consisting of weird or funny stuff. And yes, that’s a shout out to this.

That sounded alright. So we published it.

Covers for the last few Digests

Surprisingly, this test drive turned out to be a hit on our social media pages, and was one of the most liked or shared company-generated content we’ve ever published. We kept working on it on a weekly basis, to generally similar positive reactions. Every now and then, some people would even approach us during our Designer Meetups to make a comment or two about the Digest and how much they are into it and waiting for the next one.

Nowadays — a couple of upgrades, a few breaks and 16 publications later, the Digest is still going strong.

But. Is this actually helpful in the greater scheme of things? Is it actually worth dedicating time to put this together?

A bit. Maybe.

There are some good things that have come along with the Digest

1. Staying in the loop

The most obvious benefit, apart from constantly having company-generated content to post on our sweet social media pages. The weekly, news-based nature of the Digest forces us to keep in touch with all things relevant to design: new apps, dying apps (and yes, we still mourn Sunrise), the startup scene and technology. Stay informed, kids; that’s important!

2. Connecting with the community

STRV stands out as a development-focused shop that puts a lot of attention and care to both visual and interaction design, and the design process itself. This is, I hope, reflected in the kind of content we pick for the Digest. “Behind-the-scenes” kind of features, interviews, new sketch plugins, redesigns or software updates. Style guides! We sure love style guides. As such, this is, indirectly, a very small inside-look at some of the things we look up to or enjoy discussing within the team.

3. It helped us think about our roles within the team

We’re fortunate to have diverse personalities within our team. For example, Ales took an immediate liking to handling promotion for both the design team and the company, while Filip took it upon himself to work on the company rebrand. At some point, Marian— who decided to take care of the team as our fearless leader — approached me to ask if I would be interested in writing some silly lines for our media posts on Facebook or Instagram. I appreciate the written word so I agreed. One thing led to another and a few weeks later, we were talking about creating the Digest. After this, we wanted to encourage a simple way of thinking:

Additional skill sets and interests are welcome and contributing to the team doesn’t necessarily mean wrestling with app screens for eight hours per day.

And this is something that applies to every designer on our team.

Pictured: Me, overseeing the Digest

What’s next for the Digest?

Needless to say, changes are expected to happen as the product evolves, starting with fully embracing the beautiful new look Filip is working on for us. I’d like the Digest to be a vehicle to get to know a bit more about our team members’ personalities — which we already started exploring with the “Now Playing” section — among other things. But only time will tell.

Do you read the Designers’ Digest? If not, give it a try, and kickstart your week with sweet (mostly) design-related goodies! And if you read it, is there anything you’d like to see us cover?

Juan Herrera— Designer at STRV, where he also dabbles in some writing from time to time.

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STRV is a one-stop mobile app development shop working with top-tier startups from Y Combinator and 500 Startups, among others, across offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Prague.

Follow the STRV design team on Dribbble or Behance.