Pastel | Faster feedback and approvals on your creative work
Kyle Dutka, Co-founder of pb+j

Meet Kyle
from pb+j

A design professional with over a decade of experience. Along with his co-founder, he leads a team of 10 creatives, building awesome digital experiences.

Toronto, Canada
Team size

With Pastel, our clients feel empowered to give specific feedback without having dev or design knowledge.

Kyle Dutka, Co-founder of pb+j

Hi Kyle, thanks for taking the time to connect. Can you tell me a bit about pb+j and why you decided to start the company.

Yeah, definitely. I met my co-founder, Tom, in design school and we started working together over 10 years ago. We officially started pb+j a little after that in 2012, and now have 10 people on the team in addition to ourselves. We’ve been fortunate to work with a wide range of clients and I’m happy to say we’re now doing some of the best Squarespace work in the world.

You mentioned Squarespace. Has that always been a part of your toolset?

Not from the beginning, but Tom found it very early on. In the past, we’ve also done projects with WordPress, Drupal, Magento and Concrete5, but Squarespace is now definitely a big area of expertise for us. We were selected as one of the original 10 Squarespace specialists and have built over 300 websites on the platform so far. One thing we started doing early on is bringing in devs to supercharge the Squarespace experience and that has worked out pretty well for us.

That’s great! And how does Pastel fit into your workflow?

We mostly use Pastel when we’re working on Squarespace and Shopify sites. It’s usually about 4 weeks into the project that we’ll see the most usage, after we’ve moved past the design stage. We’ll typically send a link to our clients and they’ll just start giving feedback.

That makes sense. What was your process like before Pastel, and how has it changed?

We had a lot of different things going on before. We’d start with a discussion post on Basecamp, include quick video recordings or screenshots, have a few phone calls, and create a Google sheet with tabs for every page. We relied a lot on clients describing what they’re talking about, and with our less tech savvy clients, it would be difficult to even get screenshots.

With Pastel, we know exactly what our clients are talking about and they don’t have to spend as much time describing things. Feedback can range from general comments to really specific things and communication is a lot faster overall. Our clients feel empowered to give specific feedback without having dev or design knowledge.

We’ll still jump into a meeting to review the feedback and have phone calls whenever needed, but there have been some real time savings. Prior to Pastel, we’d spend hours writing emails over the course of a project, and things got arguably worse when we moved into a Google Sheet. We’d need to prep the sheet before each round of revisions, and that could take hours. With Pastel, we’ve cut down our feedback time by at least 50%.

I’m really glad to hear that! And have there been any Pastel features that have been particularly useful?

Having metadata with each comment has been great! That, and having visuals to reference - it’s really empowered us to remove the back and forth of trying to correlate what the client is saying with what’s on the website.

What about the experience of incorporating Pastel in your process, can you tell me a bit about that?

We’re usually busy, so it’s really tough to add new tools and experiment with our process, especially when we just need to get things done. Each piece of software we use will typically impact a third of our team, so we’re careful when adding new stuff. Most often, we’ll try things out on evenings and weekends to see if they’ll fit into how we do things, and I think that’s how Tom found Pastel - a late night Google search, trying to find a way to show the client a live build.

Setup for Pastel was easy and the interface is straightforward to use, so it was fairly simple to adopt. We still have to teach some of our less tech savvy clients how to use it, but even the ones that struggle with taking screenshots can pick it up quickly. And with every new project, Pastel is fast to set up because you can just pop someone a link and they can start giving feedback.

That’s great! Thanks Kyle, appreciate you taking the time to chat and sharing your experience with Pastel!

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