The technical designer

Wells Riley
Jun 1, 2018 · 5 min read
Photo by Chris Ralston

Can you make these text blocks the same width? Can you move this image 2px left and 1px down?

It was frustrating for developers, but it was deeply frustrating for me too. Not just because of the extra work, but because I almost always ended up compromising my design vision in some (seemingly) trivial way. No animation here. Lack of consistency there. “That’s not possible in code.” I lived in a world where my Photoshop mockups were always way nicer than what shipped. That was the way of things.


The scrappy designer

When I joined Envoy, the team (a.k.a. the 5 people crowded around a table in a SoMa apartment) needed to ship the public beta in seven days. We also needed a new website to show it off.

The systems designer

With my newfound skill designing product in code, I grew to hate handoffs. It became easier to realize a UI design in code and work with an engineer to wire it up than to dump mockups in an engineer’s lap. I also learned that it was much easier for me to craft a great experience for users when I worked in a partnership with engineers from the beginning. Having vocabulary in HTML and CSS (at least) made this process much easier on both sides.

The team designer

As the design team grew, my job changed from designer to mentor. The team jokes that my Sketch version is always out-of-date…and unfortunately they’re usually right. Instead of designing interfaces, my new job is to help design the best design team in the world.



Envoy Design

Stories and ideas from designers that challenge the workplace status quo.

Wells Riley

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Design at @envoy

Envoy Design

Stories and ideas from designers that challenge the workplace status quo.