Hello, Basecamp 👋
I’m Shawn Hickman, a designer and developer who loves working on products. I’d be a great fit as a product designer at Basecamp.
ℹ️ If you’ve already read this you can see some of my work, otherwise, keep reading!
A Little About Me
I build many things across iOS and the web, most notably Sofa. I’m at my best when working on ambiguous, undefined problems that require a diverse skillset.
I’m good at figuring things out, or what I like to call “just-in-time learning”. Over the past few years I’ve learned Swift/iOS development, React, how to facilitate workshops, and much more.
I didn’t learn these things for pure self indulgence. They were tied to a problem I was trying to solve and required me to improve.
What I Can Bring to Basecamp
Love of Product
I truly love all aspects of products, digital or analog. When encountering products every day, my brain is constantly buzzing with, “how did they come up with that?” or “what if they tried this?”. The spectrum ranges from note-taking apps (a weird obsession of mine) to backpacks and bags. This love will make its way into my work at Basecamp.
Strong Opinions, Loosely Held
I know there’s a surplus of strong opinions at Basecamp, but I won’t shy away from adding to the pot. I’m always open to being wrong, and a lot of times I am, but a fear of being wrong won’t hold me back from contributing.
A Collaborative Teammate
Instead of tooting my own horn, here are quotes from people I’ve worked with:
“He keeps it fun without making it frivolous, and he’s not afraid to admit when he’s ignorant about a topic or needs a fresh pair of eyes on a thing.”
“I always look forward to working ‘together’ with Shawn and relieved when he’s on my team. I know we’ll have fun and create amazing stuff collaborating as a team. He’s very open to new ideas and is very creative.”
“Shawn is just plain awesome. He’s a self-starter who needs little-to-no oversight. He’s highly collaborative and inclusive of others. He’s diligent and thorough in all he does. Top notch.”
Basecamp’s Role in My Future
Over the years, there have been a handful of companies and people that I’ve admired and learned a great deal from. Basecamp is easily at the top of the list. I actively use Basecamp (for work) and Hey (personally) on a daily basis. I’ve been an avid reader of SvN as well as the books you’ve published.
I recently watched Ryan’s lecture about Christoper Alexander and got so excited about the concept of “life” within a design. It’s a powerful concept that most companies don’t have the incentive structure to adopt and support. Basecamp is one of the few companies that is willing to do this.
One of my all-time favorites from SvN is Give it five minutes. That post has stuck in my head for years and has been a helpful guardrail when I become too reactive.
This level of deep thinking and dedication is why I admire Basecamp. I have no doubt that working here will make me better in all aspects of my professional life.
What I Currently Do
I’m currently Principal of Design Systems at Think Company, a design firm based out of Philadelphia, PA. We work with clients of all sizes from small to enterprise.
My role acts as a bridge between Think Company’s delivery (project teams), sales, and marketing teams. I’m responsible for defining, educating, and evangelizing design systems for the entire company. On any given day I could be on a sales call with potential clients, building tools for our internal teams, or planning for a workshop.
During my six years at Think Company I’ve designed, lead projects, written code, planned and conducted research, estimated projects, sold work to clients, and more. I’ve really grown a lot during my time here
Sofa is an iOS app for organizing your downtime. It allows you to create lists of books, movies, tv shows, podcasts, music albums, and video games to enjoy later.
The current version of Sofa is a solo effort. I do the design, development (Swift), website, planning, support, and business admin. I love wearing all the hats and taking on the responsibilities of having to figure things out.
The ability to understand, define, and then build solutions on my own has been incredibly liberating. I’ve learned how to ship, prioritize work, handle customer feedback, and say “no”.
What Excites Me
I get excited by crafting software with joy. This is not the same as delight. Joy is the unmeasurable feeling you get when an experience “clicks”. It’s the care and thoughtfulness put into the details that others would deem unimportant or not worth the cost. It lives somewhere between good enough and perfection.
Majority of the software we use is devoid of joy. It’s quantified down to the point of being sterile and lifeless. Product decisions are driven by fear and spreadsheets, rather than vision and insight.
Crafting software with joy can be hard and frustrating, yet so fun and rewarding. It takes a willingness and grit to think deeper and push against norms. The result is worth every step.