Episode: 028

Cap Watkins

Design Lead at Etsy

Phase 3
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Cap Watkins

Cap Watkins: Design Lead at Etsy

Cap Watkins, Design Lead at Etsy, didn’t set out to be a manager. He never imagined himself taking 12 talented designers under his wing, managing expectations, workflows, processes, and design collaboration. But, as it turns out – Cap is actually loving it.

Cap, who once studied creative writing, pivoted into the intersection of startups and design early on in his career. The scrappiness, he says, has made him better at what he does. He’s planted roots at Formspring, a global social network for Q&A conversation, as well as Zoosk, an online dating service that uses big data and algorithmic patterns to identify potential suitors. Cap also spent time at Amazon, before making the switch to Etsy, where he dug his heels into usability and organizational operations.

Today, we’re talking with Cap about Etsy, 2014’s prestigious Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Award recipient, about showing the “messy” underbelly of your design work, celebrating failure within culture, and why design leaders need to do more than poke holes – they need to learn how to ask better questions.

Talk to Cap on Twitter as @Cap, and Tweet us with your favorite takeaway from the show at @BrandFever and #OnBranding.


Episode Transcript

Episode 028: Cap Watkins, Etsy

Amanda: Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of On Branding by Phase 3. I’m your host Amanda Serfozo.

Amanda: Cap Watkins, design lead at Etsy, didn’t set out to be a manager. He never imagined himself taking 12 talented designers under his wing, managing expectations, workflows, processes, and design collaborations. But as it turns out Cap is actually loving it.

Cap: I sat down with my boss and I was like, “I could be terrible at this.” And Randy said to me, “That’s okay. Just try it and if it’s not working out you will know it, I will know it, and we will talk about it and it will be fine. Don’t be afraid of not being good at this, don’t let that stop you from not being good at this.”

Amanda: Cap, who once studied Creative Writing, pivoted into the intersection of startups and design early on in his career. The scrappiness, he says, has made him better at what he does. He has planted roots at Formspring, a global social network for Q&A style conversation, as well as Zoosk, an online dating service that uses big data and algorithmic patterns to identify potential suitors. Cap also spent time at Amazon, before making the switch to Etsy, where he dug his heels into usability and organizational operations. Today we’re talking to Cap about Etsy, 2014’s prestigious Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Award recipient, about showing the messy underbelly of your design work, celebrating failure within culture, and why design leaders need to do more than poke holes – they need to learn how to ask better questions.

Amanda: So it seems like you are a busy guy, that’s the impression that I’m getting. You’re senior design editor at Etsy, first and foremost, but you’re also an avid speaker, you’re a blogger, you’re a Tweeter or Twitterer – whatever the correct usage of that phrase is.

Cap: I’ve heard Tweeterer.

Amanda: Tweeterer? Yeah I like that as well! So first of all give us a fun snapshot of your day-in-the-life, not just what do you do but a regular average day – what is Cap into? And then the follow up to that will be how do you juggle everything? Do you have any processes or tools that you use to prioritize all of your obligations? So a two-parter, but first of all your day-in-the-life at Etsy, let’s here it.

Cap: What do I do at Etsy? That’s a really good question actually. I think I’m still trying to answer that myself. It’s interesting actually. Going from being a designer to being a manager has been a really interesting transition for me. That’s pretty recent. Even as a design manager I was doing design work at Etsy until October of last year, so almost a whole year of being at Etsy doing design work and building products.

Amanda: And now you’re managing a team right? You’re overseeing how many people?

Cap: Well now I’m up to 12, which I think a lot of managers look and the number is like a badge of honor. But we’re working through that right now – it’s way too many people.

Amanda: That seems like a lot. It seems like a whole semi-basketball team of people who are creative and have different personalities. It seems like it might be hard to manage but do you enjoy it? Are you loving it so far?

Cap: I like it a lot. It’s interesting. I’m managing people but I feel like I should report to them. That’s the way I feel about it. My entire job is to make sure that people are able to do the best work they can and that means unblocking them and bringing clarity to them. And that comes in a lot of different forms, so today could be like going to a bunch of meetings to keep people out of meetings. Or meeting with them to talk about the work or to talk about, “Hey that was a hard conversation that you just had with somebody, let’s work through that.” And so it is actually a wide range of things. What is interesting about it is that I thought that I might miss design – doing the design work – that was something that I was pretty concerned about. But it turns out that people are one awesome UX problem.

Amanda: The ultimate UX problem!

Cap: They really are! Your user is staring you in the face telling you everything that they need help with and that’s pretty great.

Amanda: That’s really boots-on-the-ground. You’re in it. You’re not just hypothesizing about what are some real world problems, you’re really in it and that’s interesting. It has got to be a cool perspective to have to be able to imbue that into your work and processes. It lends itself well I would imagine.

Cap: It’s funny also because I had always said that I would never do this. I would never be a manager. There’s a lot of things I said I would never do that I’ve wound up doing. I said that I would never work at a big company for a long time and then I worked at Amazon. My team at Amazon was as big as Etsy is now, my single team. It was huge.

Amanda: So you’re just jinxing yourself left and right? Whatever you say you’re going to do the opposite.

Cap: Every time. I should start saying really preposterous things.

Amanda: If there is anyone who can attest to the fact that navigating the design world isn’t a linear path, it’s Cap. From his time at Formspring, Zoosk, and Amazon, he said he’s learned to break design and build it all over again – a transferable skill that set him up for his unexpected leadership role at Etsy. These bits and pieces, he says, shape him.

Amanda: It segues well into another post that you did with popforms. You said something really amazing that I just love, that it’s not just one specific notch in your belt that you’re going after, it’s not a linear path to getting anywhere, so don’t focus too hard on getting to those different levels of preparation. In your experience what is it that has lent itself really well in your experience to where you are now without necessarily meeting those goals? What bits and pieces of your experience with Formspring or Amazon or any of the other things that you’ve done, Zoosk, that have lent themselves really well to what you are doing now? In your experience what have you picked up here and there that lead you to be a great manager?

Cap: A “great manager,” that’s delightful. I hope that’s true! I haven’t really reflected on that but now that I’m thinking about it – being at startups has made me be very scrappy. I was like the fifth or sixth employee at every startup that I joined. At both Zoosk and Formspring I was the only designer for a very long time and that forces you to move really fast and not be afraid of breaking stuff. I think that has made this transition easier. And then Amazon was like a crash course in maneuvering in a gigantic ship of people. There were times that I would show work to somebody and have eight other people come to me having wanted to see it first. Managing those expectations, how to talk to people and present design to people who didn’t necessarily understand it in the same way. That’s something that I never really had to do at startups because everybody is very producty in early stage stuff and so it is really easy to throw some design up or a wireframe and have people focus on the right things when there’s only five or ten of you in the room. But when you’re in a room with VPs or directors where this is the twentieth thing they’ve seen this week – giving that context and setting it for them in developing that process was really useful. I wasn’t even managing at Amazon, I was just a designer, but without that experience I don’t think that I would be able to have the perspective that I do now. Startups and a lot of companies talk about failing fast and not being worried about it. It’s like, “we are going to iterate and everything.” Etsy has done this really amazing thing where we’ve brought it backwards from the product into the culture of Etsy. For example, I’ve never managed anyone before in my entire life and I came into Etsy basically as a manager. And I sat down with my boss and I was like, “Here’s the thing. I could be terrible at this. It’s not impossible. I’ve never done this before. It could be that I’m awful at it, it could be that I hate it. I hope I’m not! I’m going to try really hard to not make that the case.” And Randy said to me, “That’s okay. Just try it and if it’s not working out you will know it, I will know it, and we will talk about it and it will be fine. Don’t be afraid of not being good at this, don’t let that stop you from not being good at this.” And that’s a really beautiful thing. I think a lot of companies do that with their product but it’s a really hard thing to bring backwards into your culture where you could try out something like being a manager and always have the option to move back over if it just wasn’t for you. And it made me unafraid.

Amanda: From a consumer’s standpoint you might think Etsy is a Mecca for polished perfection, craftsmanship without a speck of dust, but actually the team from the top down is all about failing harder, better, and faster in the most hilarious way.

Amanda: It’s interesting because it’s still an organization, there are a lot of people, there are a lot of moving parts but it still sounds like it has the soul of a startup where you can experiment, you can try, you can fail – that’s all welcomed and that’s part of the culture and embraced.

Cap: Yeah we have an award for the biggest failure. It’s called the Three-Armed Sweater Award and there’s nominations every year for the person who took the site down in the most spectacular way and there are some really great ways people have taken down the site. Innocuous things that you would never suspect would do something like that. They do it and it’s just like, “Wow, didn’t see that coming!”

Amanda: Is there a big cash prize or an award or trophy that you get?

Cap: We literally have an Etsy seller knit a three-armed sweater. It’s great.

Amanda: I love it! Reasons to join the team right there.

Cap: And to try to take down the site!

Amanda: Exactly! Motivation to fail. It’s interesting, you’re bringing up so many good things about culture. Describe just in a nutshell what Etsy’s culture is. I know you talked a little bit about it in what you were just talking about but just describe a little bit for our audience what Etsy culture is both internally and maybe externally, what your consumers think of when they think of Etsy. How do you guys show the world what your culture is like? You don’t necessarily have to advertise it of course but how do you guys show the world that this is who we are and this is who our team is and this is our personality?

Cap: I’m trying to think of how to say this best. Internally I describe it a lot as magical. It is exactly what you think it would be like. I haven’t worked at a lot of companies where that’s true, where you walk in and go, “Oh yeah of course it’s like this!” This is exactly what you picture. The office is exactly what you picture. There are a bunch of people internally who are sellers, who were sellers before they joined Etsy. We have a designer who just started who sells embroidery of emoji and she’s had this shop for a while. We also hired another designer recently who just started yesterday and he has had an Etsy shop for five years. He sold hundreds of things. It’s nuts.

Amanda: Does that get them bonus points in their interview like, “I’m also an Etsy seller with pretty great equity here.”

Cap: I have to say it doesn’t hurt!

Amanda: Exactly, you’re familiar with the product already! That’s great.

Cap: It’s pretty interesting. I’ve talked to designers when we’re trying to hire them or we are recruiting them and people have said things to me like, “I don’t want to come and work on making people buy more stuff, that’s not something that’s very interesting to me. It feels kind of corporate and bad.” And I’m like, “I totally hear you on that. But check this out, if someone buys something for $10 like 96.5 percent of that goes directly to the person who makes it.” So if we make a change that helps shoppers find the sellers, find these other people in the world that are selling the things they want, these other people who are the makers in the world making desks in their garage or whatever thing they like to do, we’re enabling them with every purchase to do more of that. That’s pretty amazing. A lot of places aren’t like that. We try to push that through the product too. We’ve been talking a lot about how people on Etsy, the website – it should just be like oxygen. The fact that you’re buying from a real person is a pretty powerful thing. And it should just be there. It should be self-evident in every interaction and every screen that this isn’t Etsy selling stuff, this is an individual or a group of individuals making cool things and selling them to you.

Amanda: When you’re designing for one million Etsy shops and 30 million sellers around the world, bringing in 1.35 billion in handcrafted goods annually, how do you gut check your team? How do you remind them that they are designing for real people, with real needs, at any given moment?

Amanda: What you were just mentioning that Etsy is so accessible, you’re putting it into the hands of everyday people and demonstrating how design can work for good – it can help them gain a profit, it can help them build a brand of their own. There’s a lot of thoughtfulness in usability in the apps and on the website and in customer service and support, all of that, it makes me wonder in your role how do you gut check your team to really step back and realize that they’re designing for people and for users?

Cap: Wow, these are really good questions! No one has ever asked me questions like this before. We have a few processes. I think we all realize in a very big way that we are designing for people. We have a user research team that we’ve been building up since towards the end of last year and that’s been really helpful. We’ve been in touch with our sellers for a long time, in person, and we’ve really engaged the community since forever, basically. But this has allowed us to do it in a steady way, like with a cadence, where we’re bring more sellers in and talking to more buyers and really understanding what people think about and what they need from us. That’s been really useful. More than that the big challenge everybody faces is making sure you’re designing for the whole and not just for the screen you’re on or the flow that you’re doing – it needs to all feel contiguous and that we’re all talking. That has been harder as we’ve grown. We’re at 24 designers total now from the product side. It’s getting pretty nuts. And it’s gonna get bigger. I would be happy if we got to 30 at the end of this year, that would feel really nice. So hey everybody we’re hiring!

Amanda: Just by the way, footnote!

Cap: Just by the way! We use a lot of processes and tools. We use Basecamp religiously. The design team posts all of their work there, every iteration they’re writing out their thinking, why we’re doing this, and every designer is copied on every project in Basecamp. And Basecamp does this really nice thing where they send you this email digest every morning of all the stuff from yesterday. So every morning every designer at Etsy gets the full picture of everything. They can poke their heads in wherever they want, they can talk to each other. And we see each other in person a couple times a week for critiques but this is the best tool we have to get an overview of everything all the time and create that transparency so we can all go like, “Oh yeah I’m working on this that touches your thing, let’s talk about it.”

Amanda: If doing the work is challenging, consider the muscles it takes to hire talented designers with hybrid skills. Besides basic web development fluency, everyone at Etsy has their hands on the product which means everyone must have experience in product design.

Amanda: I would love to hear a little bit more about how you hire people who are designing for really user-centric experiences. Designers tend to walk a fine line. You obviously need to tout your own work, like “You’re really talented and I have this great portfolio.” But a great user-centric designer is kind of selfless in a way. They know that they’re designing for someone else, they are putting them first. What’s the biggest thing that you look for when someone is sitting across from you that tells you that this is a really thoughtful designer who works for the good of the user? What rings that bell in your mind that tells you this is a great user experience designer?

Cap: There’s a lot of different things that point us towards that. To give you some context, product designers at Etsy do the full stack. All the designers do user experience design, visual design, and their own front end HTML and CSS. Each of them is responsible for that. It’s kind of crazy that we have 24 of those but it’s great.

Amanda: That’s a lot of hybrid talent there.

Cap: What I look for a lot is – I think it’s easy to talk about designing for the user if you’re a user experience designer. What I’m looking for more in people is, first of all, general product thinking. Because we expect a lot of product designers, not just the design work. They’re on pretty small teams generally. They and their PM and their engineering partners are together responsible for the product. Not just the actual execution but the concept itself is user-centric. We’re not shipping the organization. They’re responsible for looking at a problem and backing out and coming up with a solution or even identifying that that problem isn’t really a problem. Or it’s a different problem. And so a lot of what I’m looking for is someone’s who has obviously done this kind of thing before and has worked on something that feels user-centric. You can tell that they are solving problems for people. I see a lot of like, “Oh here’s my portfolio of all the final product.” What I really care about is journey to the product. What we want to see is how you got from, “We have this idea,” to, “I tried these thing and they all fell apart.” Or, “They failed here and they had to go backwards.” This is a messy thing we do. And if it’s clean and pristine it means you’re wrong.

Amanda: That’s exactly true.

Cap: The longer you spend on something without putting it in front of a person, the worse off you are. It’s also a confidence in the process, knowing that that process was necessary. I like the people that feel like, “Oh duh, of course this is what it takes. I’m showing this to you because doesn’t everybody do this?”

Amanda: It’s amazing that people tend to hide it because it’s an ego thing. People just don’t want to fail, they don’t want to look stupid, that kind of thing. But for this line of work how can you not show that? How can you not show the ugly side of it and the things it took to get there? How can you not show that? It’s like a big missing link, a big blank spot in the middle of the process.

Cap: What I want to encourage at Etsy or wherever – I was reading this speech by Ed Catmull who is the president, I think, of Pixar, and one of the bits was that he was saying, “We show work everyday because the longer we go without doing that the worse off we are.” And it makes you not afraid of the process if you’re showing your process everyday. There’s no way you’re going to have a final product in 24 hours. You’ll have a step. And if you show the step then it becomes less scary. Showing failure to people is a scary thing. And it can be pretty painful. Getting critique can be a very painful process. I was lucky to go to school for Creative Writing and so I was in critique all the time, getting my stuff slashed apart!

Amanda: That’s me everyday!

Cap: Yeah and at first you’re angry about it. At first you’re like, “I’ve spent a lot of time on this, give me a break!” Eventually you realize that like, “This is how it’s supposed to be. This is better now because of this and I should just crave this and not be afraid anymore.” And that makes you unafraid of the process too. I’ll design something and show it to somebody and they’re like, “It’s fine. I think this is good.” And I’m like, “No no no no no. There is absolutely no way that’s true. I’ve worked on this for an hour and a half, this is garbage. Tell me why. Help me make this better.” I’m unaccepting of ‘this is good’. I can’t accept it anymore.

Amanda: Do you feel like, just from your experience and the amount of time you spend shoulder to shoulder with other teammates and things that you’ve done so far in your career, that you have that ability now to look at something and be able to poke holes in it and test it out with your hands and find the flaws in it? Do you feel like you’re able to do that now instead of being like, “Yeah this is good, let’s run with it.”

Cap: I’ve gotten to a place – and I’ve seen this in other designers too that we work with at Etsy – we’re starting to get to a place where it’s less about finding things that are specifically wrong with something rather than we know what questions to ask. It’s like, “Why is this this way?” Or, “How did you get to this decision? Did you consider this constraint?” We’re starting to ask those questions and sometimes the answers are, “Yes I did consider that constraint and here’s what happened.” My favorite thing that happens ever is you’ll be in a design critique and someone will be like, “Hey so we have this other thing going on. Did you consider this and this and this?” And the designer will go, “Yeah I did,” and open up a file and go, “Here it is.” They’ll just cruise over to it and, “It failed and here’s why” or, “Here’s the thing I struggled with.” It’s also about going, “I think this flow is wrong because of this.” It’s about, “Hey how did you get to this decision?” Or, “What happens when you do this?” Or, “What happens when there’s nothing on this screen? What happens when you’re in an empty state? What happens when there’s an error?” And just starting to poke around and making sure that it’s being thought of in all the contexts actually gives people a lot more information and things to think about.

Amanda: Do you feel like, just in a nutshell, that great leaders really ask great questions from their team instead of just delegating, “Here’s the rules and here’s what we’re doing.” Do you feel like great leaders really lead their team by asking them and making them think a little bit harder about what their designing for?

Cap: I think that’s part of it. There are times when I’m more direct, where I am like, “I totally get what you’re saying but I really think that this could be improved. This could be shortened or we should cut something out.” I don’t know about great leaders because we are talking about me. But I feel like that’s the most successful kind of critique. The other nice thing I think is when designers bring their struggles to the critique. The crummy thing that happens, or it feels crummy to some people, is when they bring something that they’ve worked on and they show it to people and people start poking holes in it. Now what doesn’t feel so bad is when you come to people and you show them something and you say, “Here are my struggles with this thing.” And then people help you with your struggles and then it’s like magic because you asked for that. You’re like, “I needed help with this and I got the help that I needed.” So that’s been a really powerful tool for us so far, we’re like, “Come with three questions or things that you’re concerned about with your own work. Tell us what those are.” We make sure also that you get what you need because it sucks to show something, get a lot of questions, and go away going, “I needed help with these things and no one asked about that.”

Amanda: Yeah it sucks when you do something and you think you’re on the right track and then you get into that meeting or that critique and you’re like, “I was really on the wrong path the whole time and if I’d only asked a question earlier on it would have been a lot easier and it would have been on track.”

Amanda: Design students take note: If this is your dream job we have some words of advise on how you too can get your hands dirty with a brand. Cap says Etsy is looking to expand this year, seeking students who can go beyond pristine portfolios and into product and critical thinking. What worked? What didn’t? And what would you change?

Amanda: I feel like a lot of our audience members are in school, they are design students, they are at SCAD and RISD and lots of institutions all over the country. So for those students that are listening, I feel like they would say right off the bat that working at Etsy, designing at Etsy, would be a dream job. What are some nuggets of wisdom that you can give those students that might be graduating in a couple days here for preparing to work at a place like Etsy? What can they do, not necessarily in their work and things that they can learn, but what can they do process-wise to be prepared for a position like that someday?

Cap: I have a couple things but the first I would say is just start building something right now. You probably have a bunch of ideas, especially if you’re a design student, I’m sure you have a lot of ideas. Start building something. Even if you can’t make it totally functional. Or find someone to help you do that. Start to put something together, start to make a product. What I see a lot with design students is like a portfolio of product work that didn’t go all the way, that didn’t get to a point where like, “We put a Flinto prototype in somebody’s hands.” Or, “I put a click-through prototype in somebody’s hands and had them use it and then learned from that and iterated.” What you see is like, “We did this project, a few designers and I. We have the UX flows.” Like they have the artifact, right? “We did UX flows, we did some concepting, we did a cool video for it and we did a couple mockups.” And it’s like, “Well that’s not a product. Try to make something.” Even if it’s just a prototype, that goes a long way not only telling me what you can do but also teaching you about building stuff. Interns that we have right now are doing design work in their spare time. They have clients in their spare time. They are building websites for local companies in their spare time. It’s pretty interesting. One of them is a Computer Science major. And it’s like, “Oh no you are like Neo in the Matrix. You’re a great designer and you are like a Computer Science major. You are that mashup. You’re gonna take all of our jobs!”

Amanda: What kind of spawn are you?

Cap: Right! And the second thing is making sure that you have a developed process and you’re not just sticking inside of your tools. Get messy with stuff, sketch stuff, don’t throw it away. Keep it. It’s very important to keep that stuff. Especially coming out of school, show me all the messy stuff. It doesn’t need to be perfect. You need to tell me why it’s not perfect. Tell me all the things that you wish you could change because I’m going to ask you, “What do you wish was different about this thing that you like?” Build stuff and then show me all the messy work that you’ve done. It’s really important.

Amanda: It’s so hard to show that messy work. Where do you even put it? Where does it make sense in my portfolio? That’s a biggy though.

Cap: I don’t even know that that needs to go in the portfolio necessarily.

Amanda: Just talk about it.

Cap: It’s one of those things, there’s a lot of messy work to get to something and putting that in a portfolio is pretty overdone. It would probably be overwhelming to somebody. But talk about it in the portfolio, write about it, do some writing, because that’s a lot of what UX design winds up being about, just writing stuff and explaining things. And then be prepared to show me the work. When I’m like, “Hey how did you get here?” Do what I was just talking about like, “Yeah let me open this file for you. Boom, there’s all this stuff.”

Amanda: This week Cap is off to champion his Hack Week project, an Etsy tradition that encourages employees of widely different disciplines to collaborate in the spirit of complimentary skill sets.

Amanda: How do you learn? Do you do any e-courses? Generally Assembly? Coursera? Any books or people that you follow? Just personally where do you do your best learning at?

Cap: Actually Etsy Hack Week is coming up next week and my Hack Week project that I have determined for myself is called ‘Cap Learns To Code’. I’ve enlisted an engineer to help me build an idea I have. So I’m gonna learn that way. That’s pretty nice to be surrounded by people who know what to do in this stuff. So that’s gonna be really fun.

Amanda: Hands on!

Cap: Yeah! In my spare time I do a lot of reading online. I replaced my RSS reader with a separate Twitter account recently where I’ve been following people and brands that I know create good stuff. Anything that Hunter Walk writes is pretty great. He’s just been around the block, he’s seen a lot of stuff. I don’t know if you’re familiar with him.

Amanda: The name sounds familiar but I don’t know him, no.

Cap: He was high up in the product management org at YouTube for a while and now he has started his own VC firm with a guy who used to be the VP of Product at Twitter. So he’s done the thing where he’s been in a startup and he has all these really interesting thoughts about startup life. I really enjoy his stuff. Also Rands. “Managing Humans”, I read that book like twice a year. I have been reading that since before I was a manager like twice a year. It’s also got an engineering bent but it’s just so applicable regardless. I’ve also been reading “Tribal Leadership” which is such a cool book. There’s this guy Florenz who recommended it to me and it’s about different stages of companies, like moving through these different stages of how they think about themselves. How people think about the company and the organization and think about themselves inside of that, and trying to level that up to where everybody feels super empowered. It’s pretty interesting. It’s messed up – I’m starting to identify myself in some of the lower level things and I’m just like, “No! How do I level up?”

Amanda: And then last but not least before I let you go, what are some tools that you use everyday? Moleskines, Evernote, whiteboards. What are your weapons of choice for processes and capturing ideas and that kind of thing?

Cap: I have a love-hate relationship with Evernote. I love it so much. But you know when you love something so much and it makes you see all the edges? I have that. I ran into some Evernote designers the other night and I was like, “Do I have something to tell you!” I had so many things to talk to them about but it’s because I use it so much. It’s so powerful. Although lately I have to say I’ve been switching over to Google Docs slowly, sorry Google Drive. Worst name ever – it’s just Docs! What I like about that is it’s actually more collaborative than Evernote is and it’s synced instantly. I don’t have to worry about hitting the sync button. Evernote has done that thing where I type in a bunch of stuff, I go down the street and I pop open my phone and it’s gone because it didn’t actually sync. Never worry about that with Google Docs. And that design has just gotten better and better. Google is really stepping it up!

Amanda: It is, they are! And the tracked changes are really nice too. If somebody opens it up you can see who has changed what and added this. Especially for copywriting and content things it’s nice to know whose fingerprints have been on this.

Cap: I’ve tried to use OmniFocus, I’ve tried to use a bunch of different to-dos. I have wound up just using my email. I don’t know why. I don’t know how this has happened. I just decided one day, “I am Inbox Zeroing this thing” and I got there and now anything that’s in my inbox is something I need to deal with. And everything else is just filed away or gone, and that’s been the best to-do list ever because I don’t have to go back and forth between things. Now that also means I have to hack it a little bit where I will send myself an email that’s like, “Do something.” I just don’t know that I want another thing, do you know what I mean? What I really wish – I’m hoping somebody is listening and working on this right now – is I wish that email could do both. I’m using Airmail right now on my desktop because Sparrow has dropped support.

Amanda: I am too. I love Sparrow!

Cap: I’m really holding out for Mailbox for Mac.

Amanda: But I feel like Mailbox is trying to do what you’re talking about where you can file it away for later and there’s a system to when you check in on this and how you label it, tag it, that kind of thing. I feel like they’re trying to make that into a to-do system.

Cap: I just want the easy adding. I want to add my own stuff. Here’s all the things other people need me to do, which is in my inbox, I want to add my stuff.

Amanda: Just a drawer, a pull out drawer, here’s my to-dos, and then just hide it.

Cap: Yeah, that’s even better. Let me file all of these things including things I want to do into this thing. I just don’t want another program, I’m trying to cut down on that.

Amanda: Me too. I get super overwhelmed when someone’s like, “Oh you’ve got to try this app, it’s so great.” I’m like, “I don’t need another thing! Don’t tell me about it, I don’t want to know!”

Cap: What else? Tweetbot has been awesome. Setup to mute things, setup alerts. What else am I using lately? MailChimp. I don’t mean for this to be a plug at all but you can subscribe to my blog post feed with an email list. It’s just an experiment I’m doing to see what that looks like. MailChimp’s really good. I’d never used it but everybody raves about it and I finally started using it and I was like, “Wow, this is very thoughtful and pretty easy!”

Amanda: They have an incredible culture of UX. They’re just UXers all the time. Aaron Walters over there. They’ve written so many books and their newsletter is amazing. They are actually our neighbors. They are right down on Marietta Street. We’re a little bit further down on Marietta Street so we like to wave from our rooftop because we can see them. And Freddie, their chimp mascot, he’s a big deal. We love him. It’s amazing. I always say that MailChimp feeds and clothes us here in Atlanta because there’s so many events that MailChimp sponsors. They give us hats and shirts, and they give us free pizzas. So we love them!

Cap: That’s great!

Amanda: Yeah it is great. Is there anything else you feel like we should touch on in this episode? I think we got it all. We covered so many bases here tonight.

Cap: Oh yeah thanks a lot. Now I have a lot to think about.

Amanda: I’m getting into your mind!

Cap: Like I said there’s a lot of really great questions that I’ve never stopped to be retrospective about and now I’m going to be so thanks for that.

Amanda: That’s great! I’m so sorry I didn’t get you the Q&A before hand, the meeting today just totally messed up my schedule. I meant to get it out to you sooner but hopefully you enjoyed this. Thanks so much Cap and we’ll talk to you soon then. Have a great rest of your evening!

Cap: Alright you too.

Amanda: Thank you loyal listeners for tuning in. While you’re listening we’d love if you would give On Branding a rating or review on iTunes. And don’t forget to visit us on the Phase 3 show page at phase3mc.com/onbranding. No matter where you go you’re brand is always on, so take On Branding with you.