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How we design at Coda + what we look for in our designers.
The document and the spreadsheet—paradigms that still largely dominate how businesses and people operate—have remained relatively unchanged for the last 40 years. And we have the opportunity to define the paradigms of the next 40 years. This new surface will start as simple as a document but can grow into a powerful, connected app. - From the original pitch deck
Paradigm reinvention in mind, designing at Coda is a little bit different — it's a flexible doc surface, with building blocks that grow with the needs of teams. So when hiring designers, we're looking for a few specific qualities. While traits like systems thinking and self awareness inform our decisions, we think it's important to highlight why craft and culture make for a great designer at Coda.
First and foremost, solve problems.
There's a lot to do as a designer here at Coda, and we think understanding, framing, and solving problems is one of the most important things to get right. When framing a problem, our first goal is to identify customer or business problem to solve. From there, we try to break complex problems down into reasonable parts and try to evaluate a range of possible solutions.
Often we end up with multiple solutions for a problem, and need to clearly articulate the pros and cons of each. When it comes to the final decision, the designer is never alone—a PM, an entire engineering team, and, of course, the rest of the design team help guide you.
Empathize with others.
A key part of problem solving is being able to empathize with our makers, whom we call "makers." From simple note-taking and project briefs to complex tables and integration-heavy business tools, makers' needs are diverse and ever-evolving. As designers here, we try to understand our makers along this spectrum and adapt our solutions based on the needs of the maker at hand.
We work with our data team, ask for community feedback, and conduct customer interviews to understand those needs. Company events like the weekly "Customer Story Time" are opportunities to dive into customer problems and novel solutions they've created, share updates with our Coda Community, and receive feedback.
Take a problem from start to finish, with strong craft throughout.
Joining our design team means your fingerprints are all over the foundation of the product. You'll be responsible for taking each project from concept to visual design, systems design, research, all the way down to prototype or animation. Sure, not every phase will be your favorite, but we expect you to take pride in your project from beginning to end.
Sometimes you may be the only designer on a project. In those situations, we pay attention to both the forest and the trees, which means working across disciplines with different team members from product management to marketing.
Designing building blocks means that we have to pay extra attention to how all of our features work together. So at the end of the day, we try to create solutions that feel crafted and deliberate. And that feeling should shine through at launch (which happens often!).
Bring a superpower to the team.
While we expect each designer to be able to carry different types of projects from start to finish, we also know that everyone brings something unique to the table. That allows us to rely on one another and lean on each other for different skill sets.
For example, while every person on the team considers themselves a generalist, we have designers who are extra awesome at prototyping, others who are great at researching, and still others at visuals and illustrating. This helps us create a well balanced team, and allows us to pull each other into projects when necessary.
Everyone has a superpower, so it's worthwhile to think about what skill you have that you'd bring to the team.
Leave your ego behind and collaborate.
While we each have our superpowers, the real magic is in the team. Each designer works within a product and engineering team, so being able work with engineers as well as other team members is vital.
Sometimes it's about motivating your teammates to get the job done, from prototyping an idea to polishing up those UI nits. Other times, it's about taking the initiative to work on projects that benefit the entire team, like design systems, documentation, or running sprints.
As much as collaboration is about making space and time for others, it's also about bringing in your own unique perspectives, which we aim to make possible by providing a safe and inclusive space.
Everyone's a maker, including you.
At Coda, we believe that everyone is a maker—even ourselves. Being a maker is all about taking the initiative to solve a problem.
We try to be proactive about finding new problems to solve, or new roles to take on that can make the product or the team more successful. Another way to look at this is to think about "expanding" your problem surface, rather than reducing it. Don't shrink back from this expanded awareness—embrace it!

If what we've said resonates with you, then come join us! 👋

P.S To see the ideas that have helped shaped these values check out

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