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Marc Hemeon

Co-founder and designer at North Technologies

Marc is Co-Founder of North Technologies. His background is in designing consumer apps. Previously, Marc was the co-founder of fflick, which Google acquired in 2011. Following the acquisition, Marc was part of the team to redesign YouTube in 2011 and again in 2012 leading the site wide redesign. Marc is a sought after design collaborator working with teams all across Google working on a broad range of products including design collaboration on the Google X self driving car project and Chromecast. Before that, Marc led design teams at Oakley and Digg and co-founded a number of companies including TeeFury and DesignbyHumans.

What do you do?

I surf, paint and design software for North Technologies - a company I co-founded in the fall of 2014 with Kevin Rose.

What do you find most rewarding about your role? Most challenging?

The most rewarding aspect of being a designer is the moment you glimpse someone using a product you had a hand in creating. Our most recent project is called Watchville. We have a time view inside Watchville which aids a watch lover in setting their automatic watches. The entire interface is created with code (big props to our amazing engineering team Caleb Davenport and Jonathan Baker).

We spent a lot of time on the movement, layout and spatial relationships between the time elements. I got a note from someone who downloaded our app and applauded our placement of the second and minute hands on the dial. The placement of the watch hands in relation to the dial markers is such a small design detail, but I was so stoked they noticed because we spent a great deal of time thinking about the shape of the minute and second hands, the size of the minute markers, how far the minute hand should overlap the minute markers, how the second hand moves around the face - all these little micro design decisions add up to one simple time interface and the fact someone noticed enough to send us a note just made me so happy.

The most challenging part of my role is saying no and cutting features. When you work with an incredibly talented team the temptation is there to pack in features and fancy interactions. The real challenge is removing all the fluff and focusing on designing and building something pure and functional that truly solves the design problem in a clean and elegant way.

How do you stay up to date with trends in your industry/field?

This year I am trying something new - I am looking outside the design world into social patterns and issues and jumped on the Year of Books Challenge bandwagon where we read one book every two weeks. I want to broaden my understanding beyond just what I experience in the tech world and really try to understand broader social and global issues.

I do have some daily browsing habits for staying abreast of what is happening in the software design world. I visit the usual suspects: Designer News, Product Hunt - if I am working in the brainstorming phase of a project I start collecting design scraps from Blood Sweat and Vector, NotCot, FFFOUND, designspiration.net, Design on Pinterest, and for whatever reason I seem to always look at Feltron.com.

I will hit up Behance and Dribbble as well, but I tend to visit there less and less these days. If I need to develop a logo mark or word type I dive deep into sites like ilovetypography.com or basically anything Jessica Hische says, or reads, or links to cause she is amazing.

What are your top five applications or programs?

I am just going to take a glance at what I have open right now: Slack, Sketch, Photoshop, Illustrator, Keynote (for prototyping), Sublime Text Editor, Spotify.

Best way to stay on top of email?

Switch to Slack. But if you do have to email, then write as little as possible, answer email as fast as you get it. Use TLDR liberally.

What is your best time-saving trick?

Share mocks and ideas early and often, even at the risk of having an idea being shot down before it's fully designed out. This saves a tremendous amount of time as a designer, otherwise you may be going off the reservation on some design train locomotive for 4 days where you go heads down without showing any of your work to anyone only to find out when you come up for air your design work, while beautiful, doesn't solve the design problem because the stakeholders you're working with have evolved their ideas.

One non-tech thing you can’t live without?

My wife.

What does your workspace look like?

Typically a hot mess. I have 5 sets of different headphones, 10 moleskines laying around, pens and paper, weird chotchkies I've collected, random business cards and conference badges, usually a cup or dish that has yesterdays drink or lunch remnants, I have to use a Logitech G500 mouse (with a cord) - I can't do the magic mouse, my hand is too big, and I can't do a stylus and Wacom. I also love a keyboard with a ten key cause I'm a dad and I have to do budgets and work spreadsheets still and the ten key is a must.

Structure of your typical day, how do you divide your time?

My days have shifted recently but here is a general breakdown:

7-9 Kids, breakfast, running people to school

9 virtual stand-up with North (we all chime in on Slack and chat about the day and what we want to accomplish for the day)

9:20- Noon grind on designs, email, whatever I need to get done for the day

Noon - I usually just eat something at home, otherwise walk over to Whole Foods (its next to my house - oh yeah, I live in Orange County and work out of my house when I am not up at our San Francisco HQ)

Around 1 or 2 I usually have a daily 1:1 with Kevin Rose to touch base, talk about design progress, company stuff or just share some laughs. I work till around 6 then leave to go exercise. Sometimes I exercise around noon instead of the evening, but I really love to end the day with an hour of exercise. We try to eat dinner as a family, but some days that is tough with so many moving schedules.

At night I switch gears and head to my painting studio (ie my garage LOL) and I usually paint for 3-4 hours a night - my kids will cycle in and hang out with me while I paint and we talk about the day, or they sit next to me and do their homework while I paint - it's a really great time to hang out. After painting I head up to bed around midnight and read myself to sleep.

What is the greatest piece of career advice/wisdom you've ever received?

Drink Water.

Who would you like to see featured on Ways We Work?

Daniel Burka