5/5 Small Business Interview: Managing Work Life Balance
Web designer, husband, father: Jesse Couch is many things. As both a small business owner and a family man, he is always juggling the different aspects of his life. In this 5/5 feature, find out more about Jesse and Design Couch, his up and coming web design firm!
Design Couch seems to stress simplicity above all else. Why is this a cornerstone of your business?
When I started as a designer, there was an innate desire to add ornamentation to my projects. This was a by-product of working in fine art, and also a personal misunderstanding of what design really is. Long story short, I began to realize that design choices needed to serve a purpose other than visual flair or decoration – otherwise, you as a designer are simply adding noise. It may sound simple, but it took me a while to actually accept (in practice) that design marries form and function. As a wise man once said, art is about allowing for interpretation, while good design leaves no room for any. You have to send the same message to everyone, and adding extra fluff takes away from that goal.
How did your career in fine art and print design influence your approach to web design? What is the number one lesson you learned in offline design that you now apply to online design?
There’s a reason that bad design is so prevalent on the web; I am trying to help change this, one website at a time.
When I was a print designer (who dabbled in fine art), I learned a lot of core principles for design that have truly aided me in my role as a web designer. Many people like to try and say that the two mediums (print and web) are completely different—and in some respects, they are. However, there are universal principles that apply to all design.
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The foundational concepts I learned early on have done nothing but help me grow as a designer in general; whether for print or the web. As a matter of fact, I consider my background a distinct advantage. It allows me to think I can wear the print designer hat if need be, but I also benefit from a formal design education that many web designers lack. There’s a reason that bad design is so prevalent on the web; I am trying to help change this, one website at a time.
You appear to be a tech entrepreneur who also focuses a lot on his family and his non-work commitments. How do you balance the demands of startup life with those of being a husband and a father? Also, what’s it like living with four dogs and three cats? :D
I was raised in a family that valued time together more than most. We are still a very tight-knit bunch. Those values transferred to my own adult life very easily. I love my work, and I’m passionate about it in a way that most people are not lucky enough to be. However, I always place my family first. This is an absolute that all of my clients understand going into a relationship. I have 8 children (currently 5 adopted, 1 in the process of being adopted, and two foster), so it’s not only a matter of personal values, but pure necessity. My wife is amazing, but asking her to take that on alone would be not only daunting for her, but unfair as well.
I balance work and family life (and pet-parenting) by keeping very specific hours and using tools like Hiveage to help me manage the business side of things so I can concentrate on producing quality work for my clients as quickly and efficiently as possible. When your time is limited like mine is, being able to concentrate on production instead of administration is pure gold.
If you could talk to yourself at the beginning of your career, what advice would you give a younger Jesse?
I would definitely tell my younger self to take the business side of things more seriously. I have always been passionate about my craft, and early on, that often came at the expense of meeting deadlines, pleasing clients, or even getting paid at all. As a one man show, I didn’t have the luxury of hiring a business manager, so I had to learn the hard way that things like keeping good records, invoicing on time and enforcing invoice deadlines were every bit as important as creating the work.
What is your favourite thing about Hiveage? If you could change one thing about it, what would it be?
Interestingly enough, my favorite feature of Hiveage is not really a feature, per say. I’m a user-interface stickler, and choose my software accordingly. The Hiveage UI is well-thought-out, organized and easy to pick up and use with very little trouble. I can get in, do what needs to be done, and get back out without any issue at all. Having been in charge of UI projects in the past, I know that this is no small feat. The only thing that I would change (or more appropriately, add) is a mobile component. I hear through the grapevine that this is coming—and once it does, for my uses, Hiveage will be more or less perfect.
5/5 is your chance to get to know awesome Hiveage users from all around the world. In each issue, expect five questions, five answers, and a load of insight from freelancers and SMEs just like you!
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