Like so many entrepreneurs as the pandemic came into full swing in the Spring of 2020, Ready Set Go founder Dayton Periera found himself with free time that he did not want. Client work had slowed, so he decided to pivot on the spot. He created a remote-learning course on product design — little did he know how profoundly his decision would alter Ready Set Go’s trajectory going forward.
“The idea was, what are the things that I could possibly teach that other people can learn from,” Dayton says.
At the time, the no-code movement – an approach to building web products without having to write any code – had gained traction in the tech community. What’s more, Ready Set Go already relied on Webflow, the leading, no-code platform for web design.
So, Dayton put out feelers within the product-design community Slack channels to gauge interest in his course.
“I was thinking ‘What’s the least amount of effort I can put in that will provide me some kind of a positive result to see if this school's worth pursuing,” he says, settling on hour-long classes each day for three days. If eight people signed up for the course, Dayton would consider the school worth pursuing.
To his surprise, 25 students signed up. Then 150, for a free class over five days where Dayton focused on Ready Set Go’s “utility-first” CSS approach to building custom products in Webflow.
Yet, as his classes grew in popularity, so did his student’s expectations.
“Back at the start of my Webflow class, people would ask me ‘Hey, is there documentation on the stuff that you’re teaching?’ And my answer was always ‘No’ because creating a documentation site for Webflow is hard to do.
Motivated by his students, Dayton went for it, starting from scratch.
The site took him forever to build but he did it, with help from the Ready Set Go team.
The End Result:
Dayton and his team created Stock: a massive utility library of classes that took endless hours to complete but makes developing in Webflow far more efficient, customizable and teachable.
“We created it and put it out there, because we wanted to offer something special and helpful for everyone,” Dayton says. “When you're investing that amount of time into something you're super passionate about, you want to make an impact. We now build all our client sites, using the Stock utility framework.”
What it takes to build a first-rate design system:
According to Dayton, the magic of Ready Set Go’s Stock is less about Webflow itself but strict adherence to CSS naming conventions.
“The hardest, most time-consuming part of creating a design system is naming things: you give an element a name and it does a certain thing. Then create another kind of element and give it a different name, and it does something unique. Multiply that a few dozen times and managing the CSS becomes a nightmare.”
So, Ready Set Go decided to take on the herculean effort of building a framework free of naming conflicts. The payoff? Going forward, the Ready Set Go team would barely have to write any CSS code at all.
A design system is similar to traditional advertising brand guidelines: use this colour, this logo, these words. The design system you use to build your digital products employs a very particular design language. A heading font always has to be a particular size, colour and typeface. Now, that same heading font on a phone needs to be smaller, in this colour, and this typeface.
And that's just applying a design system to one single heading. Yet, there’s a major payoff to this extremely meticulous approach to product design — you implement a harmony between all the components of your product and its guidelines.
Dayton illustrates: “Say a Ready Set Go client says they’re ready to go live. Alena, one of our product designers, may be busy, so I say ‘okay I'll take this over.’ I take a look and say, ‘oh yeah we can make a change here, and change there.”
In other words, the Ready Set Go team doesn’t have to worry about what another team member meant to do because they can see it right there; the way that it's created, using the same approach they would.
“Anybody can just hop in and do the work, trade places with each other because it's all very cleanly built.”
Dayton believes Ready Set Go's competitive advantage could only be identified by doing it — digging in to learn and teach the curriculum.
“The credibility lies in the fact we use all of our school’s course materials. That would have never happened if we hadn’t created the school.”
Teaching’s Impact On Ready Set Go’s business - 5 Lessons learned:
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