Pair Design Rule # 3: Accept your pair’s exotic habits.

September 18, 2014 Kim Dowd


This post is coauthored by Pam Dineva and Kim Dowd, design pair extraordinaires.

We shared 40 hours a week, a screen, a product, client relations and a problem space. Now we’re on a quest to codify the tenets of pair design.

Pair Design Rule # 3: Accept your pair’s exotic habits.

We designers are an interesting bunch. Snowflakes. Unicorns. Butterflies. Rock Stars. Special. We. Are. Special. Our habits are also special and good and make us individuals which in turn makes us creative, critical and exploratory. In all of this, we can develop little quirks of personality that surface when design pairing.

Rather than fix, just accept. We all have our own odd extra ears and whatnot. Embrace it. Grow your own practice by fully understanding the motivations that drive your design buddy to do all the crazy things that make you want to nibble on glass.

Habits We Have Found in the Wilds of Pivotal Labs

  1. Layer Lover They love layers for all things. Nav. Hand interactions. Their 147 layers are very organized.
  2. Layer Hater They hate layers for all things and “fix” all layered files to have no layers.
  3. Data Hoarder Copying and pasting ten versions of the same screen into one document, so that nothing is lost. Ever. Really. Ever. Saving a new version of the same file every 20 minutes, to enshrine the “process”. It’s meticulous version control, so that later they can reflect on process, inspect the deltas. That day may or may not come, but they’ll be ready for it.hoarders-and-neat-nuts
  4. Neat Nuts Accidentally cleaning up an entire Dropbox folder in trash because they were “neatening.”
  5. Symbol Worshiper Symbols all the time. Always making a symbol in Illustrator because it’s “more efficient” even if they have no idea what the page will look like.all-hail-the-symbol
  6. Fancy Pants Coder Writing all notes, everything in markdown
  7. Font Optimizer Loyally using fonts from Typekit only.
  8. Recovering Architect. Writing every single note or whiteboard scrawl in small caps.
  9. Key Commander Using or creating custom shortcuts for everything.
  10. Mouse Lover Never creating shortcuts. Imma just gonna take my hand and put my whole consciousness in this curser here. It’s called a mouse!
  11. Cave Dweller Using the darkest custom theme option in alllll tools, Illustrator, Photoshop, sublime.come to the darks
  12. Chatty McStarter Oh, they want to talk… They need half and hour of banter before the worky work starts.
  13. Cheer Captain Very enthusiastic team “yays!” and positive reinforcement sprouts like flowers in their path.
  14. The no breaker The Olympic athletes of the design world, they haven’t taken a break since 2007.
  15. Armchair Psychologist Standing on one leg at meetings “to make them go faster and be healthy.”
  16. Coffee Pot Worshiper The first half an hour of each day happens next to the coffee machine, in a complex dance of beans, cream and project planning.
  17. Email Multi Tasker They are with you… until gmail calls their soul home.

Remember, our greatest strengths are often our greatest weaknesses. So be kind and patient with your design pairs. If you are working with someone, it is because they are talented. Their habits are actions that spur from what they value. If you can figure out what they value, and you can learn about their practice, and in turn grow your own practice. Nobody said it was easy, dangit.


More in the pair design series:

Why Pair Design

Pair Design Rule #1: Wear One Hat at a Time

Pair Design Rule #2: Yes, And

Pair Design Rule #3: Accept your pair’s exotic habits

About the Author


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