Originally Published: Thursday, 2 March 2000 Author: Jessica Lee Sheffield
Published to: interact_articles_jobs_profiles/Job Profiles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

The friendliest, hardest-working and most neurotic little media company in the world

"Q: What do you get when you put three techs, two salespeople, a designer, two executives and a couple of administrative staff together in an office?"

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"Q: What do you get when you put three techs, two salespeople, a designer, two executives and a couple of administrative staff together in an office?"

If you answered "User Friendly the Comic Strip", you're not far off. J.D. Frazer, the cartoonist known online as "Illiad", bases many of his comic strip ideas on real-life scenarios. That's right, folks... Mike, Stef, and the rest of the gang really do exist. No wonder Illiad seems to have such a handle on the Linux life.

And what do the other members of User Friendly Media think of this?

Kethryvis, who maintains the site's 'Community' section, says, "It's the most awesome job I've ever had."

What makes User Friendly such an employee-friendly workplace? Perhaps it's the attitude of the people in charge -- 'Give your people the tools they need, and get out of their way.' Kethryvis told me, "[Illiad and WebDiva`D] are both really creative people and they know when to let you go and do what you do best. They'll basically tell me 'Okay, here's what we need,' maybe a few guidelines (MAYBE!), then I go do it."

The other employees of User Friendly agree. WebDiva`D, the company's webmistress, says, "I'm getting paid to do what I love, and having a blast while doing it. It's a dream gig. I get to play with cool toys and fun playmates in a virtual sandbox." She's the one responsible for making sure we all get our daily static fixes, as well as maintaining the overall User Friendly site.

The company, located in Vancouver, BC, is fairly young - they've been registered about six months - but already employs eight people full-time, with four or five contractors. There's certainly room for growth, with the web site boasting over ten million hits per month, and a growing community of 'UFies' who read the strip, buy the merchandise, and provide feedback to the User Friendly staff on everything from comic strip ideas to love life help to Linux advice.

J.D. Frazer, known to legions of fans as Illiad, says that one reason for the company's success is the people working for it. Of the employees of User Friendly, he says, "I look for passion and talent over experience. Everyone who works at UF is like a member of a family, and for that reason we hire people who 'click' with the rest of us. That means understanding Monty Python references, arguing over Red Dwarf and loving what they do so much that they can't wait to share their ideas for UF with the rest of us." He adds that this makes working together a wonderful experience. "Most of the full-time staff work at our offices in Vancouver. All of our contractors currently telecommute. The office is usually quiet, but it can burst into raucous laughter at a moment's notice. Couple that with senior staff running around with nerf weaponry and Darth Maul lightsabres, and I think you get the general scope."

WebDiva`D confirmed this. "The atmosphere is very upbeat. It's not often you get shot at with nerf darts by your CEO during the course of a work day at the office... but it happens at our office."

User Friendly has been hiring new staff like mad for the past few months, and plans more expansion in the near future. WebDiva`D says, "We're bent on world domination, without a doubt. We are creating the UFieverse one geek at a time. We have big plans in the short and long term." Will this mean more jobs for geeks in the UF office? "Absolutely. We are planning big around our community... we want to do more for and with the community, and are putting the infrastructure in place to make that happen."

But even when User Friendly itself doesn't have any current job offerings, they are still helping geeks find cool jobs through their Geekfinder web site. The site has over 160,000 jobs listed in a variety of fields, and is powered by the Dice.com engine.

Illiad offers these final words on HIS job: "My job is certainly unique in many ways, and I'm thankful for the opportunities I've had appear before me. My job does have one thing that keeps me very interested. I have access to a bright, inquisitive community that has no problem giving me their sense of what's cool and what isn't. It keeps me on my toes, and helps me expand my thinking."





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