Allow me to introduce you to a new acronym: “booj”. Imagine you’re sitting at a bus in MSP with your tears freezing on your face. Your friend Stanley, who is most likely at a tech Meetup in SF texts you, “sup, buddy?”
You: “My gf left me for this guy with a face tattoo…”
Stanley: “Aaaaw. Well, booj…”
Stanley: “Be original or jealous, buddy.”
The statement is so accurate that you stop crying and adopt a whole new perspective on life.
booj is the both the motto and the name of a Colorado-based company specializing in web design and complex development. The name speaks to the company's approach to staying competitive and innovative in a lightning-paced environment of complex web development by driving the industry forward.Founded in 2005, booj is growing quickly and making waves by fostering employees’ creativity with fun. Built In Colorado caught up with Laura William, booj’s Creative Director and got her take on web design and life at booj:
What do you like most about your job?
The actual design work is the most enjoyable part. Creating designs allows me – and the Design Team – to be “practical artists.” I am paid to be creative and make pretty things that actually have an impact on people’s lives, solve problems, help our clients succeed, and overall make people happy. How great is that? Also, being part of a team, I enjoy the ability to have an audience and to get candid feedback, as well as come up with ideas and see them come to fruition through the combined efforts of fellow boojers. I also really enjoy that booj encourages individuality and is a very accepting, open, and upbeat community.
Does your team follow any guiding principles when they approach a design project or do they just brainstorm until they settle on a plan?
Our projects come in all shapes and sizes, although I’d say the lead principal and priority is usability. Regardless of media – web, print, email, etc. – usability comes first and foremost. Secondarily, we prioritize beautiful, informed design based on strong, classic design principles, refined typography, and current trends. We also work at finding ways to advance our designs by trying new styles, features or techniques. While these ideals may sound generic, our approach is ultimately defined by the unique nature and requirements of each project.
Why is booj so committed to fun and beer? Are non-foosball players able to thrive at booj?
As a teetotaler, I can’t speak for our commitment to beer. However, as for our commitment to fun – in all shapes and sizes, including foosball – we fully realize how hard everyone works, and that in order for all to stay mentally healthy and to truly love what they do, boojers must not turn into miserable worker bees in the process. Our recently appointed “Director of Fun” is now on board to ensure that as we grow, fun – i.e. a healthy work and life balance – will always be part of our value system.
With so much technology out there, what kind of training and experience do you think designers need to be up-to-date and versatile?
As someone who is in charge of hiring for the Design Department, I often think: what makes a great designer, and what can help them make a living? The obvious necessities are knowing industry-standard software like Adobe products, and knowing them well. It isn’t enough to have a surface knowledge of Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign; a good designer must consistently be able to deliver results that are superior to his or her peers. A large part of this is having a firm grasp on classic design principles, getting as much experience as possible, and being a constant learner. It’s very important to learn new skills and software before your peers. For example, a designer with the ability to design responsive email campaigns, create mobile graphics, code at a very basic level, layout a 100-page novel, and whip up a website mock has so many more career options, whether or not this person decides to concentrate in one specific area at any one time.
As far as training and experience, I believe it’s imperative to work on a wide range of projects, be absolutely committed to creating pixel-perfect work and nailing all the details. Equally important is being able to work closely with clients, whether or not you ever meet them in person. Sometimes designers get trapped in an artistic bubble and forget that design isn’t a selfish act – it’s a service. Having the capacity for client empathy is definitely crucial to this work.
Anything exciting in the pipeline for 2014?
A few things! Most notably, booj recently purchased a building and will be moving to a new office location in April. We are bursting at the seams – some desks are literally in the hallway – so this move is highly anticipated and everyone is super excited.
Each year we host an annual conference for The Enterprise Network, and this year’s theme is “BIG Data: The Power of T.E.N.” It’s happening in November. Each year preparing for and hosting the event is an enormous undertaking, involving the hard work of all booj departments.