Red Green Repeat Adventures of a Spec Driven Junkie

Farewell Sawad

I want to give Sawad a send off on his last day at the company. I will share memories and learnings from the time Sawad and I worked together on the same team.

You will learn more about a person I worked with and how I interacted with them. This article will take you around two minutes to read.

Chalice of Peter of Sassoferrato source and more information


Today, a coworker is leaving the company, Sawad Brooks. I will miss working with him as he takes his next step in his career.

Sawad lead the design team on the software product our company worked on. He was the design counterpart to my role. He initially sat right across from me on the aisle of desks we had in our first office. I got to know him better after moving to our second office.

Design: More than Screen Driven Development

Sawad came into the organization that was into “screens” - that’s how everyone interacted with the design team. Product and engineering would say: “Give me screens for this” or “I want high-res screens for that”. Screens are important, but design is more than just pixels!

Sawad’s challenge was to slow everyone down and have everyone think about design as not just a “screen” shop was no easy task. It’s basically changing work habits of different groups of people you don’t have direct control over.

Design is challenging. It’s more than making buttons, sliders, drop-downs, even colors intuitive, even without “instructions” or words. The challenge: how can an action be “obvious” to a user when it’s their first time using the product without telling them?

When design does really good work, it doesn’t need explanation, it just works.

Team Gelling

I will also miss the fact that Sawad & I just started to get our teams gelling more with each other and the dream of having our teams work together at a new level, like having our team do improv games together and team potluck lunches.

Increasing the non-work interaction between engineering and design would lead better work and smoother processes,

Now I have to find that improv and engineering book.

1:1 Time

I loved all of our 1:1 conversations about design, work politics, and management. Even though I learned about design on my own, you taught me more. New words like: “Design Debt” (wow, that is a thing and we have a lot of it in our app!), “Affordances”, and making me re-think Design of Everyday Things by Normal Nielsen.

I am so glad you took my advice and gave a lunch & learn talk on design. You didn’t have to stand in front of the whole team to explain design to them. I was looking forward to having additional design talks.

I also appreciate you inviting me into the “design coven”, having my team present at the design summit and pushing for a unified design system for our teams could work better.

Until the Next Time

Sawad, I will miss you in the office (actually, I already miss being in the office now).

I’m looking forward to working with you again in the future. The tech world feels large, yet can be small. I am confident will be sharing offices again for the same company.