Changing Things Up

Career and Lifestyle Adjustments


Today is my last day at SpaceCraft. For the past year I've served as the VP of Design, helping support the company in a management and creative role. The entire experience has been great and it's bittersweet to part ways. I owe a lot of my enjoyment this past year to the team, who are some of the brightest people I've ever worked with. That coupled with a product that continues to grow and mature at a rapid pace made my job a joy to leave home for.

But for several months I've had a desire to reclaim some of the time I spend away from my family, especially with my daily commute and the simple fact that I've worked my entire professional career remotely in an office. That's normal for most of the population, but as our family expanded from two to four, for me, the desire to be more available to my wife and kids kept growing stronger and stronger. I knew I had to establish a new level of contentment with the fact that I have a family and also have a job, but I didn't know what that was going to look like.

In June I had a conversation with a friend of mine who runs a website called PCPartPicker. His family and mine are at a similar life stage and I envied the fact that he worked from home and has a small team of people who also work from home in our area of Austin. He mentioned that he wanted to bring a designer on full-time and we met up to have coffee to chat about that. I wasn't looking for a job change at the time, but he put his best sales hat on and soon had me considering the opportunity to join his team. The more I learned about his business, the team, the responsibilities of the design position, and the work culture I realized this could be viable. I still had questions, but we continued to meet and as those cleared up I found myself with an answer to the desires that had been building up inside me.

I didn't want to leave SpaceCraft in a lurch, especially since we were in the middle of a big website redesign and product design updates, so I decided to hold off on transitioning out until the marketing site was done. The timing ended up working out nicely all around as I was able to not only help get the new site launched but leave the team with a design foundation for the entire platform. The work I've done for them in the past couple of months has been my best of the full year and I can't wait to see the ideas get implemented.

I'm still invested in SpaceCraft, both as an ex-employee who poured a lot into the product, but also as a customer. This new site is running on SpaceCraft, which allows me to stay in touch with the team and see the product evolve. The roadmap is bright and I think their best years are ahead of them. I'm proud to have played a key part in establishing the design direction of the company and wish them nothing but the best!

So, PCPartPicker. What's that all about, huh? Glad you asked, because I'm excited about it! PCPartPicker helps do-it-yourself computer builders browse components, check compatibility, and find the best prices. Their tools are awesome and the community is super strong. Philip and his team are a highly capable and focused bunch who work tirelessly to tweak and improve the site. They've gone to great lengths to ensure the data is accurate, the community is supported, and the site runs fast. One area they want to improve in is design and user-experience. That's where I step in.

For the most part I'll be doing at PCPartPicker what I've been doing at SpaceCraft, Element, and the companies before those. But one key difference here is I have the opportunity to dive head-first into HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, which is something I haven't had the chance to do on a regular basis. We all know that these skills are requirements for web designers nowadays and I'm dying to grow them as much as I can.

Down deep I'm a big geek. I follow Apple news constantly, I still browse video game sites even though I don't play them anymore, I stay up to date on tech trends, etc so to work on a site that is involved in the tech industry is exciting. I also like that I'm getting in early on a site that is taking off and being given the chance to help shape and direct it from a design perspective. And the culture at PCPartPicker is great. The team gets together regularly for lunch and in-person work sessions. They donate part of their earnings to Charity:Water, which is fantastic and something I'm passionate about as well. They work hard to maintain a healthy work/life balance, which again is vital to me.

The job is going to require a lot out of me, no doubt, and working from home will bring its own set of challenges. But I'm ready to devote my design skills to it. I'm ready to grow in managing myself. I'm excited about the opportunities it creates for me and my family to have more time together. I'm hopeful. I'm ready to get started.

© 2015 — Phil Coffman