6 Secrets from the Etsy Design Team

While you may not actually work at Etsy, you can make it feel like you do with these tips from their in-house design team for instilling inspiration into any office.

1. Aim for Improvement, Not Perfection.
Rather than expect to get every project perfect the first try, Etsy’s designers work with the understanding that they can always make the site better tomorrow. Consequently, they’re always on the lookout for ways to make even the smallest improvement.

2. Bring Your Brand Alive.
It’s not hard to be enthusiastic about Etsy, but the company almost goes out of its way to connect its employees with the brand: When each designer is hired, they get $100 to purchase items off Etsy to personalize their desk. This gets them excited about the brand from day one.

3. Give Designers Ownership Over Their Work.
Randy Hunt, Etsy’s design director, says he looks at his role as one of support, so when someone on his team has an idea, Hunt has the designer pitch it directly to the CEO. “I try not to be the middle man,” Hunt explains.

4. Encourage Collaboration.
Etsy has established ample opportunities for inter-departmental exchanges, which set the stage for more creative collaboration between employees. For example, employees are free to move their desks around, so designers often end up sitting alongside engineers and product designers. Also, twice a week, the company caters in a lunch that all the employees eat together.

5. Embrace Change.
“Nothing is precious,” says product designer Dan Betz. “We’re willing to change direction if something isn’t working.” This nimbleness enables the team to keep priorities in check and pursue the most effective design solutions at any point in the process.

6. Listen to Designers’ Needs.
Hunt encourages employees to work in the manner that fits their needs best; if they need quiet and want to work from home for part of the day, he’s happy to give the green light. “My general philosophy is that I treat everyone like adults,” Hunt says. “It almost seems so basic.”


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