The Setup

Interview

What do people use to get stuff done?

Willem Van Lancker

Willem Van Lancker

Co-founder, Chief Product Officer (Oyster)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Willem Van Lancker (@vanlancker) and I'm the co-founder and Chief Product Officer of Oyster in New York. At Oyster, we've brought unlimited access to ebooks - we give readers the freedom to explore and read in our library of over a million titles for just $9.95 a month.

I lead teams focused on design, editorial, customer service, and brand marketing. I also change the light bulbs, make coffee, design book covers, and make team swag. Before starting Oyster, I was a designer for Google Maps working on the new Google Maps and Google Maps for iOS. I studied Graphic Design at RISD.

What hardware do you use?

I do practically everything on my phone outside of design. Oyster is a mobile-focused product with a pretty equal balance on both iOS and Android, so I have an iPhone 6 and a company Nexus 5 that I swap between regularly for testing.

At my desk, I use a 15" MacBook Pro that is pretty much always plugged into an Apple Cinema Display. I pair that with an aging Wacom tablet that I sometimes think is demonically possessed, an Apple Wireless Keyboard, a few Muji notebooks, and Staedtler pens. I almost always have a bottle of seltzer somewhere within reach. When I'm doing long stints of design work, I use a pair of Bowers & Wilkins ear buds - the first quality pair of headphones I've ever owned. I sit on a Herman Miller Sayl Chair that, while beautiful, really lacks great lumbar support. Most people at Oyster have augmented theirs with some kind of cushion - but I'm too much of a slave to aesthetics to give in.

And what software?

On my phone, my most used apps are: Oyster, Google Maps, Twitter (I try to check it as little as possible on the web), Facebook Messenger (I've deleted Facebook from my life and phone), Gmail, Instagram, Rdio, and iA Writer. After 9pm, I put my phone on "Do Not Disturb" mode so that I can enjoy time out of the office without the constant pings and buzzes of various notifications. It does result in a lot of missed calls though.

On my computer, I always have about 3-4 desktops up at the same time. The first is focused on chat/email: Gmail, Slack, Google Docs, and Chrome. Next is design: Photoshop (which I use for most interface design), Illustrator (for icon and vector work), Lightroom (for photo retouching), etc. And the third is a combination of miscellaneous tools: iA Writer (for notes), Sonos (for our collaborative office DJing), Rdio, Skala Preview. This compartmentalization really helps me focus throughout the day as I switch tasks constantly. My favorite piece of ambient software, though, has to be f.lux - I don't know what my eyes would do without it.

What would be your dream setup?

I'm not too particular about my desk, as I'm increasingly spending most of my time up and about around the office. But my dream office would have lots of natural light, a few alternative types of seating (desk, sofa), a place for my dog to hang out, and a lot of plants. One cannot understate the value of having plants around.

On top of that, given I'm working from my phone so much, I would love a device that mixed the finesse and quality of Apple devices with some of the personalization capabilities of Android... And most of all it'd be great to have a phone whose battery could actually make it through the whole day.

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