E07.2 - How to Be an Interaction Designer in The COVID-19 Era

Explore how Creative Agencies and Interaction Designers are evolving in the COVID-19 era
July 10, 2020 | 36:47
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This is Part 02 of E07 with Stephanie Prevost, Director of Interaction Design at Code and Theory in New York City.

If you've finished Part 1, you're crushing it! If you haven't, there's a lot to be discovered in that episode.

You'll need to skip back to episode 7.1 to get the whole story.

If you like the show, would leave a review on Apple Podcasts? It'll take about 60 seconds, and will help me draw even more insanely interesting guests.

Now all that's out of the way, let's get into it.

Please enjoy episode 7.2!

- Mike 👨‍🔧

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Mike Rowe: Welcome back. My name is Mike and this is part two of Episode 7. If you’ve just finished part one, you’re in the right place. If you haven’t, there’s a lot of background context we cover in part one that you’re probably missing. If you want the whole story, you’ll need to scroll back to Episode 7.1 and listen to that. But if you’re all set and good to go, then we got you. So without further ado, please enjoy Episode 7 Part Two with Stephanie Prevost.

You mentioned that clients sometimes come to you with specific needs. Are there any consistencies or things that you regularly see that show up client-to-client as an important need that they have?

Stephanie Prevost: Let’s see. I think for a little while I think every client knocked on the door wanting an app for no reason other than wanting an app. Without thinking of, well, what’s the utility that I’m gonna give them. So I think that was sort of a basic one that felt a little strange for a little while, and that has shifted, thankfully. I think brand perception’s another one. Like people think of us as X but we’re really Y, I swear we’re Y. And you’re like, “Well, let’s think about that one for a minute.”

Sometimes they come and they’re just a brand new brand. Like they’re starting a new thing for a consumer. Sometimes they’re a B2B business and they want to be, you know, so it’s a business-to-business thing, and now they want to be more straight to consumer and they have to change how they talk a little bit. So the tone of voice matters in those kind of cases so that’s a typical problem.

Some of it’s just refresh. You know, they redesigned their website five years ago, and then it was a launch and leave. So somebody launched that thing, left it as it is, and it hasn’t really been tended to other than like, you know, adding blog posts or something, and then it starts to look dated. I think clients now are shifting their mindset a little bit more into, you know, product design. So their website is a product, their app is a product, where they have a team of people who actually maintain it. That’s been a more recent shift.

Sometimes they need help selling that idea internally. To get the funding, to get the people, to get the resources, et cetera, but we see a lot of outdated websites and they hand them over to us sheepishly. And we’re like, “No, it’s okay. You’re not the only one. We can help you.”

Mike Rowe: It sounds like collaborating with clients, even on their business, is a big part of the work now. Like really trying to figure out solutions that are gonna work for them ongoing overtime.

Stephanie Prevost: Yeah, definitely. And, I mean, we’re a service, it’s a service industry, and you’re there to help them as much you are to help their users. Sometimes they are, in a sense, your user because they need help selling something internally. They need help with literally their presentation that they need to give to their boss. So sometimes you have to help them that way. Sometimes you have to, you know, get their tech team onboard and almost be the bad guy and say, “No, we really think it should be this way.” But it’s the service industry and you’re there to help the client as a person as much as you are to help their business and whatever, you know, their users are.

Mike Rowe: And how do you handle those kind of, I imagine, difficult conversations and negotiations to have with the two different teams? Like you would have your team, the team at Code & Theory speaking with the team on the client side. How do you come together in agreement and move forward?

Stephanie Prevost: I think if you can be together from the beginning and be-- it’s a little cliché-- but a little bit of an extension of their team so that they trust you and that they know that you’re not going to do harm intentionally. That, you know, it becomes a partnership and a relationship that, you know, you are keeping their best interests at heart, and you are trying to use their money wisely, and you’re trying to give them a superior product than what they walked in with, and really listening to them and what their real issues are.

I think that when it comes time to like, “Oh wait, you know what? We’re, you know, we’re a little over budget, or that feature that you really wanted, that means something else has to come off the table.” As long as you have that relationship upfront, then those conversations are a little bit easier, and it doesn’t mean that doesn’t get tense and that people don’t argue about money. But you’re there to help them then it tends to get a little bit easier.

Mike Rowe: It sounds like expectation management is a big part of the process.

Stephanie Prevost: I think so. I think if you mention things early and often, and you know you have a feature ideation meeting, and everyone’s coming up with these great ideas. And then, like okay, cool we have 20 great ideas, and right now you have budget for three of them-- these three big ones or these small seven ones. But what you don’t do is then go forward with all 20 and then, you know, a week before launch say, “Hey, by the way, we don’t have enough time and money to finish these 13.” Like you just can’t do that, that’s just rude.

Mike Rowe: Yeah.

Stephanie Prevost: You just have to respect their time, their money, all of it. But again, if you mention it early and often, I think that can solve a lot of the problems.

Mike Rowe: Yeah, it sounds like when you’re cutting big features at the finish line, it’s not gonna go well for anyone involved.

Stephanie Prevost: Yeah, definitely not.

Mike Rowe: That’s a great moment to maybe have us shift gears a little bit. I’m hoping that you might be able to walk us through a typical New York agency. Like I’m based in Melbourne, you know, we’ve seen a lot of TV shows about how life is like in New York, and I’m curious if you can walk us through how like the agency scene in New York actually works.

Stephanie Prevost: Yeah, okay. So I think the first thing is that depending on your actual life, it kind of dictates how early you get in. So I think if you’re on the creative side you tend to come in later, around ten. If you’re in other departments you tend to come in a little early, like 9:30. Very rarely are people in by 9:00. I know other industries are… you know, my husband’s in at like 8:00, 8:30. I’m like that’s just not…

Mike Rowe: It’s not how we roll.

Stephanie Prevost: It’s empty. It’s empty. Because in my life I do try to get in around 9:00 so I can leave around 5:00ish. Like it’s just because of, you know, outside things, but it’s nice because it’s super quiet, and then people start to roll in, and that kind of thing. If you work with offshore teams, then that could require early calls or late calls, and sometimes those are just done from home because it’s easier. There’s a lot of flexibility, in general I think, around that. There’s a lot of meetings. A lot of meetings about meetings. That all my change moving forward, who knows.

My typical day could range from having, you know, short 30 minute one-on-one meetings with people on my team, to a project kickoff meeting. So we’re about to start something to a new business meeting where like we think we might be able to get this thing, this is what they’re coming to us with, what are we gonna send them back? So I think meetings are a pretty key element, unfortunately. There’s still a lot of, you know, we have an open office space, so our meeting rooms are always hard to come by because everybody always wants them. We have meeting rooms dedicated to specific projects which we call war rooms. So you’ll have one just for one client where you can have everything up on the wall and whenever you’re kind of doing work for them you’re in that room.

But the open office space adds to the culture in that there’s a lot of, you know, side chitchat, and you know just even across departments. I don’t know if that’s ever, you know, depicted on TV, but I think that part’s pretty real. There can be late nights, there’s a push for something cause there’s a client meeting early in the next morning, and then you gotta clean everything up and make sure everything’s perfect. And I think that’s usually sometimes can be done in the office, sometimes it can be done from home where everybody’s just logged back in. So there’s some elements of that where you’re actually not even in the agency space at that point.

Mike Rowe: And what’s something about agencies that only you and other insiders would know that people like me would not even guess?

Stephanie Prevost: Oh.

Mike Rowe: Think of it like a little known fact.

Stephanie Prevost: I don’t know if it’s little known, but I think there was this big era of putting in things like dartboards, and pool tables, and ping pong, and arcade games and nobody uses them-- like nobody. Very, very rarely. So I think now I don’t think people are even putting them in their offices anymore. I think a lot of the perks that were for show that make it look like this really cool crazy environment then ended up never being used.

Mike Rowe: And people maybe didn’t really value those things like they were looking for some other things instead.

Stephanie Prevost: Yeah. Just you’re not gonna kill time playing ping pong if you’ve got things to do. You don’t want your boss to see you playing ping pong when you’ve got things to do.

Mike Rowe: Yeah.

Stephanie Prevost: So it just didn’t work out in the long run.

Mike Rowe: And you’ve mentioned a couple times like, you know, clients have changed, their needs have changed, the work has changed. How is agency work changing for you in the time that you’ve been there? Like what have you seen transition, or change, or grow over time?

Stephanie Prevost: Well, one of the bigger things is there are more project-based accounts. So it used to be for a long time you would have a big, annual retainer with a client, and they would give you a chunk of money for a year with some level of expectation of everything you’re going to get done. And then you kind of play along for that year and you make sure that come October you haven’t run out of money or that, you know, you have too much left to spend in the fourth quarter, that kind of thing.

Now it’s shifted a little bit more to a project-based environment where they come to you with a specific project they need. And they say, “We have this much money, and this is a thing that we have to get done with this much money, and you tell us how long that’ll take.” So that’s a very different dynamic because if you go back to the point I was making about the client relationship and being on their side, if you have a retainer account, you have all the time in the world to build that relationship. And the team internally has all the time in the world to get to know each other, and tends to be more or less the same group of people. So you just have a different group dynamic overall.

You get burned out a little bit that way because it’s like, “Oh God, more of this client of this time, whatever.” But the upside is you know it really well, and you know that brand inside and out, you know the client inside and out. The project mentality, you know, makes more sense, I think, from a client perspective because then they’re not paying you for time or things that they don’t necessarily need. And it’s more focused so every meeting you have with them has a very clear agenda cause you’re trying to get this one thing out the door. But I think that’s not gonna go away, I think we’re gonna continue to move towards project-based things.

Another shift I think is that clients now have more in-house teams that we work with. So we’re extensions of teams. You wouldn’t necessarily have an interaction designer on that side, but you would have a UX designer probably on the client side that you’re working with or even in-house visual design. So they’re in charge of the full brand look and feel, and we’re there to either sometimes we’re there to extend it into digital, for example, but they’re really the arbiter of it, like they really control it. That’s definitely changed over time too.

Mike Rowe: And you mentioned a number of times that meetings are a big part of the whole process. How are you, and your team, and everyone kind of adapting given that you can’t meet face-to-face at the moment?

Stephanie Prevost: I just Zoom. Good ole Zoom. Yeah, a lot of checkerboard faces. A lot of grids. And doing our best to do it, I think it’s hard. We’re making the best of it. That’s really the only thing we’ve done.

Mike Rowe: Have any of the steps about the client relationship management part of the job changed moving to a remote first kind of relationship?

Stephanie Prevost: Yeah, I think when we switch to all remote, I think some of our clients struggle to do that. And necessarily struggle, but for everyone, right? Like it was a big transition because it’s not just, “Hey, everybody work from home.” It’s work from home, wear masks, be isolated, like there was just a lot going on for everybody, right?

Mike Rowe: Yeah, all at once.

Stephanie Prevost: Yeah, all at once, all on-- what was it?-- March 13th, or 15th, or whatever the date was. So I think some of them are looking for help to, just at a strategic level, like how should we do this? Also what should I do now and what do we have to do in the long term? You know, we came to you with all these grandiose plans, but now given the world and where it is, what do we do?

So just help us at a business level instead of just executing these projects. You know, I think in general, you know Code is unique in that the consultation piece upfront with that strategic consulting lens as well as can build something for you on the developer side. So in that sense it’s been good for us because we can help you in whatever way you need it. You know, from a client’s perspective it’s you came in the door thinking you needed this, then COVID happened, okay now you need that and we can kind of pivot. We have people that, you know, can help you in a different way.

So I think that helps and then, you know, we can also help you post-COVID in the new world when… You know, things are still moving, it’s just things seem to be moving a little bit slower, but things are still moving. Things, you know, still need to get out the door.

Mike Rowe: Progress is still being made.

Stephanie Prevost: Yeah. Yeah.

Mike Rowe: And what do you think is important for up and coming talent to specialize or should they be considering more general kind of skills to break into the agency arena?

Stephanie Prevost: Huh. I think… I think it’s probably it depends on who they are and who they are as people. I think some people really because it’s really hard to get a sense of what an agency does from the outside. And then we have a lot of interns that are fresh out of school-- either undergrad or grad school-- and there are jobs within the agency world that people don’t even know exist. So I think if you’re just kind of interested in general…

Like kind of my experience, which was like, “Oh, I could do this for a living? This is amazing. I have no idea what the title is that I want or what department I want to be in.” Then just get in the door, it doesn’t matter where you are, and then find your way, make some friends, ask a lot of questions, see if you can pivot into another department. I’ve seen that happen a lot, not just with myself.

I think the flipside of that is some people, like motion designers for example, really love motion design. They don’t want to be in the account management side. They don’t even want to be doing flat designs. Like they just know this about themselves. Then, in that case, don’t feel pressure to generalize. I don’t like the idea that everyone has to do the same thing. I think if you really don’t know, that’s cool, be a generalist. Figure it out for a while, figure out what you’re gravitating towards, what it is that you’re excited about doing, and also listen to your gut when you’re like, “Oh God, that kind of thing again?” That’s not for me. I don’t want to do another, you know, Excel doc. But some people love that, and that’s great, cause we need that in the world. But it’s just, you know, listen to who you are, and if you’re really into one thing, then don’t force yourself to like other things just for the sake of saying, “Hey, I’m a generalist.”

Mike Rowe: Yeah. And what do you look for in a new hire in terms of their skillset, or their mindset, or whatever?

Stephanie Prevost: I think sort of a unique point of view on something. Trying to think of people in your books that I look at, or that I’m interested in, that they’re not… You know, there was just one nugget of something that I would never have thought of, would never have, you know, think to do or solve that way. You know, you just look for a little flair of something. And then also the willingness to just get in there and do what needs to get done, even within a narrow discipline. You know, I’ve definitely interviewed enough people where like, “Well, I just really like the big picture thinking.” And that’s great, that’s just not this department, that’s just not what I need.

So I think being honest about those things is also good cause then otherwise it’s a bad match on both sides I think maybe admitting what you don’t know and say, “Listen, I’ve never done this before. I’ve never had to do this level. Can you show me an example or give me some guidance?” I think that’s also really important. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions and saying, “Hey, I’ve never done this before,” or,” Just tell me where to start,” you know.

Mike Rowe: So it sounds like having a fresh perspective and maybe an ability to execute is like a really valuable thing.

Stephanie Prevost: Yeah, the willingness to figure out how to get from A to B. I think the critical thinking skills are really important even if they’re wrong. Just an idea of, “Hey, I need to get to Point B. And this is all I have right now. I don’t have a ton of user research, and they’re not gonna pay for it. I don’t have whatever it may be that you’re expecting and we have to fit within these guidelines, and this content management system with these templates, and this amount of time.”

We are very often in a box. So thinking outside of the box is great in some ways, but in fact, we live very squarely in a box all the time. So bounce around the corners, come back, and tell me what you found.

Mike Rowe: And what’s like just a basic skill that every great interaction designer that you’ve ever worked with has that they deploy regularly?

Stephanie Prevost: I think curiosity is a good one. I think that no stone unturned type of, I guess goes back to that what if question. The willingness to sort of what if we didn’t do it that way this time? Or what if we just did the same thing we did last time? You know, literally both of those questions are valid in some cases. So that just the ability to think in different ways, and just be curious, and to know when to push boundaries, and when to leave well enough alone.

Mike Rowe: That’s a great segue as well. Cause I’m really curious about how like Code & Theory as a company is starting to work through this big shift. Like the conversations that are occurring around the internet at the moment talking about how we’re probably not going to go back to the old normal, there’ll be a new normal. What are you, and your team, and everyone at Code & Theory doing differently now?

Stephanie Prevost: I think we’re looking at different ways to provide value in where it’s not always these, you know, big projects, you know, nine to 18 months, and we’re gonna revolutionize the brand, and do 14 different things. I think now we can still do that for you, but I think right now it’s more what is it more short term in some ways? Like what do you need between now and then? How can we provide whether it’s the strategic value upfront, or is it just helping on the tech side? Is it you just need design? I think it’s more it’s just finding ways that we can maybe do smaller bits over time.

So, for example, we have an engineer who is really, really, really well-versed in something in the States, which is ADA compliance, it’s American Disabilities Act. And I think it’s only in the States that have it. So we have someone who’s remarkably well-versed in that. So we can actually provide a consultation to you just for that, for example. Whereas typically that’s just sort of a package price, if you will, of a larger engagement.

So finding ways to help at a smaller scale. We could do a heuristic analysis of your website at a smaller, you know, smaller scale just to see where the problems are. And then let’s talk about what the real project would be. So there’s just different ways that we can spin our services and our values now. I think people are a little bit more often to hearing about those kinds of things cause they’re not sure what they need right now, you know.

Mike Rowe: Yeah. And how are you, as a director, how are you working differently with your team as well and managing their expectations throughout the pandemic and like into the future? What’s changed in your process now?

Stephanie Prevost: I’m trying to be as transparent as possible, especially with workload, and what projects are coming in, what new business pitches are going on. You know, everybody’s got a little bit of anxiety around that. Around, you know, is there gonna be work in two months? And in some cases I don’t know and some cases I do. Just making sure that they feel comfortable asking me as many times as they need to, and giving them the answer that I have at that moment. Being proactive about, hey, I did just get this information in, here it is. So just making sure that they know as much as they can.

But also being honest with what I don’t know and not making… You know, there are plenty of things that I’m anxious about too, and it’s okay that they know that, you know. We’re all just people trying to muddle through this. And I’ve been pretty open about my own, you know, concerns and issues with working from home with kids, and you know, just transparent around it. Like I’m not pretending that this is easy, that this is all good, that it’s just you know, business as usual. It’s not. It’s definitely not. I think it was more of an emotional thing than a tactical one.

Mike Rowe: Yeah, it also sounds like the two-way flow of communication is like really important right now to keep everyone on the same page.

Stephanie Prevost: Definitely. Definitely.

Mike Rowe: And you mentioned that you worked with an engineer that’s very well-versed in the ADA requirements. That makes me very curious about how and when you involve tech teams in the picture and get them involved in the kind of parts of the process. Like you’re collaborating with clients, and your team, but engineers are usually, in my experience, some of the best people to tell you when things just aren’t gonna work.

Stephanie Prevost: Yup.

Mike Rowe: You know, your infrastructure’s just set up, and it’s just not gonna deliver the things that you want, so you have to re-orient around that. How is maybe the involvement of engineers changing inside Code & Theory now, and when are you getting them in?

Stephanie Prevost: As soon as humanly possible. They’re involved from the beginning. They should know what’s coming. I mean, to go back to the question of what’s been changing in the industry, you know five, ten years ago we started projects and I didn’t know what platform they were on at all. Now it’s like the first thing that we talk about. What are they on? What do they want to be on? Are they changing? Are they not changing?

We provide a lot of consultation on well, you’re on this, but you really need to be on that. Or you’re on this but you’re, you know, four versions behind so you really should do this. So sometimes those conversations happen before the project on the design side even starts. So we know, again, that box that we’re putting in we know that that’s a pretty solid wall that we can’t change.

So having them in as soon as possible is in everybody’s best interest. And they’re really good about there’s a solid couple hundred developers where we are, so which is unique, too. And they’re really good about not saying no to everything, and saying, “Well, no, but how about this?” Or actually you can do it this way if they only did this. And then we can go back to them and say, “Well, if you, you know, change this and this, then we can do it this way.” And just being open to that, and being open to the brick wall, frankly, and being okay with that’s the wall we have so let’s work with what we got.

Mike Rowe: And it sounds like they’re very good at, at least, understanding the constraints to present them as problems so that you can altogether look at them on a wall and go, “Okay, we probably need to go around this way or that way. Or need to adjust our expectations because of this” But you come together and try and solve the problem together.

Stephanie Prevost: Yeah. I mean you kind of have to. All you gotta do is not do that when one project one time and see how everyone gets burned by it, and then realize it doesn’t matter because if the developer can’t build it, it will not be built. So it doesn’t matter. The beautiful comp that was done, or the prototype, or whatever it was that we sold in and we all fell in love with completely falls to pieces in real life. And I’ve been there, it’s a terrible feeling, nobody’s happy. You know, you only do it once then you realize, “Oh. When they said it wasn’t possible they really meant it.”

Mike Rowe: And how do you include that input from the engineers? Is that an in-person thing or can that be done well remotely with digital communication tools? Now in this era, like how is that input being included?

Stephanie Prevost: It can be done, I mean if we were in the office, you know, six months ago it’d be in person. And they could review everything, and we can be up on a whiteboard and say, “Do you mean it like this or like that?,” and then go document that. I think now similar process. I mean there are tools that are sort of like digital whiteboards that you can use. So that also helps.

I think that as long as the open line of communication is there, it almost doesn’t matter if I’m looking at you on a screen or in person as long as I’m giving you the opportunity to raise red flags and tell us what the problems are. For the most part it’s been over Zoom and then over, you know, we use Figma and Miro for kind of cloud-based collaboration stuff. We use Google Docs pretty significantly. Between all of those you can get an almost in-person like experience.

Mike Rowe: Do you think we’ll ever shift to a fully remote design and development process that doesn’t have that in-person component?

Stephanie Prevost: I don’t know. I think there are elements of being in a work environment that I don’t think can be replicated. I think working remote over Zoom or whatever the collaboration tool is what it is, and it’s fine. I think you can get the job done, you can get sort of the tactical things done, but there are pieces of the mental process of going into an office. Even if offices turn more into meeting spaces.

So maybe I don’t have a desk there anymore, but twice a week I have a two to three-hour meeting about this project where we’re all together in the same room. Where we can talk about the weekend, and we can you know, get to know each other as human beings, and then get into some work. I think that element’s still gonna be valuable. Especially with clients, again, I go back to that relationship and partnership. That’s hard to do from the neck up in a grid of faces.

Mike Rowe: Yeah. So true.

Stephanie Prevost: Yeah, especially for introverts, or people who aren’t, you know, maybe in a quiet place who can’t interrupt. I mean there’s all sorts of elements that I think some element of in-person-ness I think would be sad if it all went away. But I think for some of it, we’re all proving to be pretty diligent and pretty efficient about working remotely.

Mike Rowe: Yeah. It sounds like the need to meet, and collaborate, and workshop may always be part of the process, but there are gonna be aspects of the job that can be done offline or remotely in isolation, but that key kind of core human collaborative component will always be there.

Stephanie Prevost: I hope so. I mean I hope there’s some level of connection regardless.

Mike Rowe: And how do you find this era and the outcomes that Code & Theory, and yourself, and your team are able to deliver for clients? Is it something that with time will get easier as we all adjust to the new kind of normal? Or is it something that you’ve got kinks in the process that you’ve still got to like work out?

Stephanie Prevost: I think there’s an informal element. Because you’re seeing people in their natural environment, so I think there’s a piece there with clients that I’m like I now know what your living room looks like, or I know what wallpaper you picked for your dining room. Like there’s some element of this that has been really interesting to me, and I think that that piece, you know, there’s kinks there. Everyone has, you know, I’m on mute, all those kind of problems while you’re looking at their face, and you know, you’re constantly staring at faces and including your own, which I feel is very odd. I’ve never looked at myself this much in my entire life.

So I think there’s some elements that we’ll be okay in the long run that we’re all kind of working through now. And I think there’s some elements that I’d much prefer to have kind of old school in the room.

Mike Rowe: And what is the biggest challenge that you’re working through right now doing remote work for Code & Theory? Is it the communication, the client relationship management? Is it process? Like what is, I think, the core challenge that you have to overcome?

Stephanie Prevost: I think the informal communication is gone. So the, “Oh, I ran into someone in the kitchen” conversation. The “Oh, they’re coming into the meeting as I was on my way out and they mentioned this thing to me.” Everything now is very formalized and scheduled to a certain extent. Like even if it’s over Slack it’s, you know, you can lose an entire conversation because you weren’t at your computer at that moment. Whereas you could have a, “Oh, let me just swing by your desk to show me this thing” isn’t there. And I feel like that part’s missing, obviously.

Mike Rowe: It sounds like the incidental collaboration time is kind of missing from the process.

Stephanie Prevost: Yeah. That’s a great word for it.

Mike Rowe: Yeah. And given everything that we’ve just kind of unpacked, and discovered, and spoken about what do you think the future of agency work is gonna look like going forward?

Stephanie Prevost: I think for a little while it will be these smaller projects. You know, similar to the bubble bursting in, you know, 20 years ago and 2008 when we had the, you know, most recent recession that clients still need to spend money, they still need to market, they still need to keep these things up and running. But you need to provide very clear value in what they’re getting back.

It’s not the time to necessarily experiment with wild ideas that are very expensive, but it could be the time to experiment with smaller ideas that, you know, aren’t as expensive because they might have an appetite just to, you know, kind of opens the door to do something a little bit different. But you just have to be a little bit more flexible that way. I don’t think it’s the time to go back to like this is how we always do it. Like, well, they don’t have the money right now, they don’t have the time right now, whatever it is. I think we have to be more flexible, a little bit more sensitive, and empathetic to them. And then I think we could end up in better relationships. We could end up with four small projects instead of one big one, for example.

Mike Rowe: It sounds like being flexible just is gonna be something we’re all gonna have to adjust to moving forward, right?

Stephanie Prevost: Which is, yeah, at work and at home, that’s what it is.

Mike Rowe: Well, especially when work becomes home too.

Stephanie Prevost: Yeah. Exactly.

Mike Rowe: What advice would you give to all the up and coming talent out there that’s looking to like move into the online design space? Knowing what you know, what’s the biggest piece of advice you can give them?

Stephanie Prevost: The one thing I tend to tell people is that everything changes so significantly so quickly that what I do today was not something I could have studied in college if I even wanted to. It wasn’t a thing. I think there was a cork express class if you wanted to do graphic design, which I didn’t even take. It just wasn’t a thing. So what you’re going to do five, ten, 15 years from now is not even on the horizon of a option, so don’t worry about it. Just get in right now if you’re interested in it, and then be willing to kind of go with the riptide and just see where it takes you, and then follow your instincts.  Like kind of going back to the generalist versus specialty thing. Like go after the things that you find interesting that you wake up and you’re like, “Oh cool, I get to do that today.”

Mike Rowe: Yeah.

Stephanie Prevost: It’s cause it’s gonna change. This is not a tried and true what you do today is gonna be the same thing five years from now at all. And if that’s what interests you, that’s awesome, come on in. But you’re gonna be really unhappy if that doesn’t make you tick.

Mike Rowe: Yeah. It sounds like change is inevitable and you need to prepare yourself for that reality.

Stephanie Prevost: Yeah, absolutely.

Mike Rowe: Well this has been so great. Before we finish off, I was hoping to know where people could learn a little bit more about you, and your work, and Code & Theory, and anything that you’d like to share before we finish up?

Stephanie Prevost: So to learn about Code & Theory you can obviously go to our website. We also have a monthly newsletter called Decode that is on there so you can subscribe to that. That is not just like agency news like all about us, it’s a whole bunch of stuff in there that’s of interest. Also obviously the, you know, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, that kind of stuff. We’re all on there as well.

And then you can always reach out. There’s plenty of email address out there. You know, find someone on LinkedIn and send them a message. You know, it’s a pretty open bunch, so, someone will be happy to talk to you.

Mike Rowe: That’s great. Great. Well, Stephanie, it’s been so good to talk to you and thank you so much for taking the time. Especially given that you’re sitting in your car right now with this like immense fog behind you. I just want to say thank you so much. Because I think the insights that you share come from deep experience and I can see a lot of people getting a lot of value out of the insights that you shared. So thank you very much.

Stephanie Prevost: I hope so. Thanks so much for asking me to be on.

Mike Rowe: Well this has been huge, but everything good must come to an end. If you liked this episode and want to hear more, you can get “The Goods” on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite podcast network, or listening app.

Thank you for listening.

Until next time, this is Mike signing off.

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