March 30, 2018No Comments

Table XI named best software development company in Chicago

Thanks to your reviews, we got quite the honor this week when Clutch released its best of lists for Chicago tech. The company — basically a Yelp for service providers — ranked Table XI the best software development company in Chicago and the best Ruby on Rails development team in Chicago. Our mobile team also made quite the showing, placing fourth for mobile development in Chicago and fifth for iPhone-specific development (though we’re mostly working cross-platform in React Native these days.)

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June 25, 20173 Comments

The next 15 years of Table XI: A new CEO and a renewed strategy

In March, we celebrated 15 years in business at Table XI. I am incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved and learned since we started in 2002. When we sold our first project to Dickson, it felt like proof of what we hoped — that doing good work for clients on our own terms was the right way to do business. 15 years later, Dickson is still a client, and Table XI has become a well-known UX design and custom software development company.

It’s been quite a journey, and I’m beyond excited for what comes next. As we plan for the next 15 years, we’re making changes that will help us form deeper and more strategic partnerships with our clients and our people. To start, we’ve launched Table XI Ventures and Table XI Labs — the former to partner with early-stage startups looking to explore problems and build game-changing solutions, and the latter to empower Table XI employees who want to pursue entrepreneurial ideas of their own.

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August 16, 20162 Comments

How I landed my first programming job and what I learned after bootcamp

I kind of didn't mean to go into development, which is how a lot of these stories start. I was a philosophy major finishing up school when I started learning Processing, a programming framework for building generative artwork and videos. Eventually I realized the programming part was rather enjoyable all on its own, so I went to Dev Bootcamp and spent 18 weeks learning Ruby. It was challenging, and I knew it was something I'd enjoy doing every day.

Then I just had to find a way to keep doing it.

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March 22, 20162 Comments

How trust brought me to work at Table XI

Why I trust Table XI

The following is unfiltered Zach, as close to my thought process as anything I've ever put to pen and it comes with my potty mouth. As such, it is unlikely to reflect the views of Table XI.

I work at Table XI and that wasn't part of my plan. I had a system and Table XI fucked it all up.

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March 10, 2016No Comments

How testing new programming languages helps our developers solve problems

Testing Programming Languages

For non-developers, it may seem like a new computer language is created every day, each with an uninformative name. Even developers sometimes feel that way. At Table XI, we’re always assessing ways to solve our clients’ problems, whether that’s a new schema for critiquing design or a new language well-suited to a necessary function. Still, the pace of new languages can make it difficult for our developers to try them out — and their new ways of solving problems

To broaden our thinking, this week several members of the Table XI team participated in a challenge: to take the coding exercise we ask our interview candidates to complete, and to build it in a language that’s unfamiliar. Each developer then presented the results to the group, so the whole team could each get an understanding of the new languages available, and an understanding of how our teammates approach a new language.

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July 28, 2015No Comments

Meet the Mobile Development Team at Table XI

tablexi-mobile

Over the years we’ve developed mobile apps that make it easy for businesses to manage their resources, teams, products, and customer experiences. We’ve helped make it easy for consumers to buy study guides, purchase tickets, and even order groceries through their phones. We've also developed a mobile application to generate content for an organization that wanted to incorporate user video testimonials into their website.

Simply put: if you’ve got an idea, Table XI has the team to build it.

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July 31, 20132 Comments

Working With Baby: Another Adventure Powered by Table XI

Alicia + ElliottYou’ve seen this on every website for every tech company: “Our company cares about its people.” It’s so ubiquitous that everyone’s eyes skate right across it. The meaning is lost.

However, Table XI’s people-caring efforts are a bit different. If you’ve had a chance to explore the Culture page on our website, you’ll notice the section at the bottom, “Adventures Powered by Table XI.” This section highlights several team members who have traveled abroad and/or worked remotely, continuing to contribute to the company while being away from our main office in Chicago.

Table XI has no formal policy around living abroad and working remotely, but our COO Mark, CTO Matt, and CEO Josh believe strongly that happy employees work better. They apply that idea to this subject in a very real way.

After working as Table XI’s Director of Delivery for a little less than a year, last spring I dropped a few big bombs. First, I let Mark, Matt, and Josh know that I planned to move to Seattle, where I’m originally from. All three immediately suggested that we try to figure out a remote-work situation. Given my short tenure with the company, I was thrilled that they’d even consider this an option. In a stunning surprise to all (including me), a few weeks later I discovered I was pregnant and laid that news down, as well.

As the Director of Delivery, along with serving on the management team and participating in recruitment, resource management, and other operations responsibilities, much of my role falls in the Delivery Assurance bucket: project management, business analysis, and quality assurance. All of this requires a ton of collaboration with other people in the office, and at first, the difficulties in working remotely loomed large. But rather than shy away from the challenges that my working from Seattle might bring, the TXI leadership did what they do best—try to find a solution that works for everyone. We discussed some tools and processes that would help me remain effective despite the time difference and distance, and agreed to give the new situation a solid three-month trial.

TXI continued to be supportive as I moved to Seattle with my husband, set up my home office, and went to the 4,400 doctors’ appointments required of a pregnant lady. As my son’s due date grew closer, I faced the great questions that confront every pregnant, working woman. Will I work or will I stay home once the baby is born? How will I manage the intense focus and energy my job requires and also take care of an infant? How will I take care of an infant at all?! (That question comes to EVERY pregnant woman, working or not!)

In January my son was born and I went on maternity leave. I’d been honest with TXI that I might not be returning, and set a date to discuss my plans with them halfway through my leave. I decided that the best thing for our family would be for me to work part-time, around 30 hours per week. I wasn’t sure if TXI would go for it—after all, most tech companies laugh at the thought of part-time requests—but I put a proposal together and arranged a call to go over it.

photo 2Nervously, I laid out my reasons to Mark, Matt, and Josh and waited for them to respond, saying I understood if they needed to discuss separately before giving me an answer. Instead, they immediately accepted my proposal and stressed how thrilled they were that I was returning. Each of them expressed how much I had been missed, that the work I do is valued, and that they wanted me to find a working situation that would lead to health and happiness. (Insanely awesome, right?!)

I’ve been back at work for about three months now. I work six-hour days Mon–Fri, 10am-4pm Chicago time (8am-2pm Seattle time). Working fewer hours every day of the week versus three longer days is better for my role, since I can check in on various projects and initiatives daily. I pick my son up from daycare after work, and we spend our afternoons together. Once in awhile a meeting pops up that requires me to rearrange my schedule, which is easy to do with advanced warning.

Now, as I approach my two-year anniversary with TXI, I continue to be impressed by the effort our company puts forth in caring about its people. The flexible work environment attracts and retains people like nothing else. People stay at the company longer (our attrition rate is very low), and they tend to be more productive and happier. If TXI had been inflexible, I most likely would have quit and found something else, and been just another part of the mass exodus of new mothers I’ve seen leave other tech companies. Instead, we found a way to make it work, and we all won: I continue to provide value to TXI, TXI continues to employ me, and my baby benefits from a mom who’s professionally fulfilled AND excited to play everyday at 2pm.

Many working moms talk about The Dream: working part-time in a rewarding job while also getting extended time with the kiddos. At Table XI, The Dream is alive and well.

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July 16, 2013No Comments

What I Learned In My First Month At Table XI

Mike GibsonTime goes fast when you're enjoying yourself, and I've been nothing but happy since I've joined the team here at Table XI. I can't believe it's already been a month. Quite a bit has changed in a very short amount of time, so I thought I'd take a breather and reflect back on what I've learned over the past 30 days.

 

A Well-Maintained Calendar Is a Beautiful Thing

Organization has always been a weak suit of mine. The only method that reliably worked was a combination of Post-it notes, chalkboards, and regular check-ins. That's manageable when your team is four people. But when you've got 30+ and a threefold increase in project count, that doesn't cut it anymore. After my first week I knew that I'd sink or swim on the accuracy of my calendar. I dove in and learned about all of the nifty tricks that Google Calendar has had for (probably) years: viewing your colleagues' calendars, multiple calendar organization, etc. The one tip that has made the biggest difference in my ability to keep a sane mind is to make sure I schedule myself time to work. It ensures I have nice blocks of time every day to hunker down and get done what needs to be done. Just this past week I've felt like I got things under control. Let's see how it feels a month from now.

Culture Isn't Created, It Develops over Time

"Company Culture" is a big deal in our industry. But it's not something that's forced on the people that work for you. It needs to be fostered over time. For all of your blog posts and meetings about creating the best culture in town, you're wasting your time if you don't have a group of friendly, empathetic, and interesting co-workers. That is where company culture thrives, and it's been wonderful to see that first-hand. I knew that working at Table XI would be a blast. It only took me a month to see to what degree.

The Best Way to Learn Is to Work with People Smarter than You

I've actually known this for a while, but it helps to remind yourself every now and then. If you're the smartest person in your office it may be time to find some new surroundings. We've got some of the smartest developers in the city put together in the same room and it's amazing the impact that it has. Not only do you learn tips, tricks, and techniques from them. That's a given. There's something bigger at work, though. It's only been 30 days, but I see myself working harder than I ever have before not to bring the curve down. That's what happens when you're surrounded by people that do such great work. You don't want to be the one to let them down.

Budgets Don't Matter, Problems Do

It's safe to assume that at Table XI we're working on projects that are larger in scope than those we tackled at Love Has No Logic. I was really interested to see what impact that had on the life cycle of the projects we were jumping into. You know what? Budget doesn't matter. Every client I've worked with, whether they had $500 or $500,000, came to us because they had a problem to solve and they're relying on our expertise to solve it. The budget just becomes another tool with which you can work to solve that problem. It's important to remember that lesson, especially as you start to see those 0's on the budget start to multiply. It's been up to me to get over the line-items and stay focused on the problem at hand.

Eat

I have a terrible habit. I get tunnel vision. If I'm working on something, I don't see anything else until it's complete. The real world impact of this is that for seven years I quite regularly forgot to eat lunch. That often led to me being extremely cranky in the afternoon and evening as my blood sugar dropped, and it probably impacted some of my business dealings over that time. At Table XI we've got a wonderful chef who comes in and cooks great food for us. When people from outside the company swing by for lunch, they talk about how great the food is. But the best part for me is that it breaks me out of my tunnel vision. Everyday when lunch is ready, Chef Aram walks out and lets us know. Someone at the office last week commented that they had forgotten how to feed themselves. We all laughed at the joke, but in my own mind I flipped it around and realized that in my first month here, I've remembered how to feed myself.

It's been a busy first month, and we've already done so much great work that I can't wait to share. I've learned quite a bit being here, and I'm excited to see what I continue to learn as time goes on. I plan to share more of my lessons in the future.

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July 10, 2013No Comments

Hot New Summer Mugs

We’ve got a whole bunch of new faces around the office (and now we're positively swimming in Matts). Here are the newest recruits to the Table XI team:

Mike GibsonMike Gibson, Senior Designer

Mike is a Chicago native and heads up Love Has No Logic (LHNL), the design firm we recently joined forces with. Known by some as the “Czar of Design,” he’s an amazing front-end developer who got interested in design by creating flyers for bands at 14. Mike then started his own record label at 16, and has, in his words, “a lot” of records. He’s known around the office for his large headphones and very loud keyboard, and he also has a dog named “Chupacabra.”

Keep up with Mike at Instagram and @lovehasnologic.

AnnieAnnie Swank, Designer

Annie originally hails from Southern California. She found her way to Chicago through studying English and creative writing at the University of Chicago, where she graduated in 2010. In 2008, she interned at Obama for America in downtown Chicago, and later worked at the White House. She’s also worked for the UN in Bangkok, and even did an event with the Thai princess. She met Mike Gibson through The Starter League, and eventually joined LHNL, where her user experience skills came in handy.

Keep up with Annie at @annieswank.

Matt WagnerMatt Wagner, Developer

Matt’s from Sacramento originally, but has moved around a lot since then. He’s lived in the Philippines, where most of his 26 cousins now reside, and later moved to Indianapolis. For college, he went to Northwestern and graduated in 2008 with a degree in computer science. Here at Table XI he works as a developer.

 

Matt ReichMatt Reich, Front-end Developer

Matt hails originally from South Dakota where he worked as a network technician. He attended school at Northern State University, where he studied Management Information Systems and played baseball. After teaching himself front-end design, he realized that was where his real interests lay, so after meeting Mike Gibson at The Starter League, he decided to come aboard with us at Table XI. Matt plays the banjo, and in his spare time once biked across the entire state of South Dakota in under 48 hours (the long way).

Keep up with Matt at @mgreich.

IsaacIsaac Sanders, Intern

Isaac is our summer development intern and just finished his freshman year at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. He’s interned at Edgecase, 2checkout.com, LeanDog, and Groupon. He’s interested in artificial intelligence, loves Ruby, and became an Eagle scout at 13.

Keep up with Isaac at @isaacsanders.

AlexAlex Tamkin, Intern

Alex is our photographer and marketing/design intern. He was born and raised in Chicagoland, and now attends Phillips Academy in Massachusetts, where he’ll return for his senior year of high school this fall. Alex has interests in science and math, but at Table XI, he’ll be working with client services to explore new ways Table XI can create value and help clients. He also loves to travel and learn new languages, and has climbed the two tallest mountains in the Rockies.

Keep up with Alex at @alextamkin.

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June 3, 20131 Comment

We’re Growing! Table XI Has Acquired Design Firm Love Has No Logic

lhnl-txi-banner-cropped

I’m very excited to announce that we have joined forces with our friends over at Love Has No Logic (LHNL), the boutique front-end design firm that we partnered with on the new RogerEbert.com. This marks the dawn of the next era of Table XI and our commitment to the highest quality design—founder Mike Gibson and the rest of the LHNL team are experts in branding, UX, and responsive design, skills that complement our own service offerings.

Today design and development go hand in hand, and this acquisition only increases the value we can provide our clients. It’s no longer good enough for a developer to build a site and have a designer slap a pretty face on it, or for a designer to turn over a finished Photoshop file to a developer to execute. From planning out how front-end visuals will work with backend systems, to creating websites with responsive design, the best work comes from the collaboration between developers and designers at the earliest stages of a project through its final launch.

We’ve thrived with LHNL on these kinds of collaborations. Like us, LHNL uses an iterative process and enjoys a history of long relationships with their customers, and together we have a proven track record of success. We first worked together on the fan engagement startup Pegmo in 2010, which we sold to a large marketing agency in 2012. For RogerEbert.com, Table XI drove the product strategy, project management, and software development, while LHNL created the visual design and implemented it on a cutting edge responsive framework, ensuring that the site displays seamlessly across all devices, from smartphones to tablets. We’ve gotten overwhelmingly positive praise at the result, and Mike’s design received accolades from the responsive design community.

The merger will take effect immediately, and our combined team will work out of our West Loop loft. In addition to Mike, I'd like to welcome Annie Swank and Shawn Campbell to our office—our summer is already slated with a slew of exciting new projects, including website redesigns for Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism and Chicago Ideas Week (more on those soon). There’s no doubt that together, Table XI and Love Has No Logic are a stronger team, and we can’t wait to get started.

You can learn more about Love Has No Logic and their approach to front-end development at their website. And I encourage you to check out Mike’s blog for his own thoughts on joining up with Table XI.

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