Episode 10

Justin Scherer on Open Source Design at Stax


October 5th, 2021

38 mins 2 secs

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Special Guest

About this Episode


Justin Scherer


Eriol Fox | Memo Esparza | Georgia Bullen

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain Open Source Design! The podcast where we talk about sustaining open source with design. Learn how we, as designers, interface with open source in a sustainable way, how we integrate into different communities, and how we as coders, work with other designers. We have a very cool guest today, Justin Scherer, who has been designing software as a job for a decade or so, and he has done so for multi-national banks, national marketing campaigns, and small humanitarian not-for-profits. Lately, he’s been working on tech for crisis response and the humanitarian sector, as well as developer tools and fintech products. Today, Justin tells us his story of his pathway to getting into designing software, working with Hover, building the personal finance app called Stax. He gives us an “exclusive” on how things are working with his design team, how he wants them to work, and more about the operations. He also goes in depth about how important the focus of research should be. Download this episode to find out much more!

[00:01:37] Justin tells us about himself and what he’s working on right now, which is a personal finance app called Stax.

[00:02:39] We find out more about the product Stax, Hover Developer Services, and the team structure.

[00:06:09] We find out the pathway to Justin’s career starting with his educational background.

[00:10:52] Eriol is interested to know more about how the design team is made up, what kind of activities and roles they do, and how open source plays into that.

[00:12:43] Justin gives an “exclusive” on how things are working now with his design team and how he wants them to work.

[00:17:57] Georgia asks Justin to explain more about the operations since that always seems to be the biggest challenge. He talks about a research study they are doing now finding out what kind of coin people want to get paid in.

[00:22:04] Justin tells us about challenges he’s run into with implementing open source design contributions and the issue he had with this.

[00:25:03] Memo asks Justin to talk more about how design research plays its role on the whole process they set up on Stax and is that design research work open source.

[00:29:13] Justin shares some critical breakthroughs that have come from the insights of research and how important research should be focused on.


[00:11:11] “It’s a team of ten, so everyone does design, everyone does UX on some level, that’s like a sort of personal philosophy of mine, you know like great ideas or insights for a UX come from developers, they come from the CEO, they come from interns, they come from everybody.”

[00:14:12] “I think of analytics is almost like the truffle pig in the design process.”

[00:15:35] “And so I’d love to be able to source a lot of the sort of lower level, I think of like Small “D” and Big “D” Design.”

[00:22:51] “I think contributing the source back into the community is the thing that makes this not fiber.”

[00:23:37] “I used to work a major bank, you couldn’t even talk to a user without six NDAs and four levels of approval from sixteen VPs whose titles you can’t even pronounce.”

[00:25:23] “I think again, in order to have open source design contributions we need to have open source research, and this is one of the things that I’ve been struggling with a little bit.”

[00:26:53] “My focus has always been like get the research, get the insight, and that’s the thing that’s going to sell your design at the end of the day.”

[00:27:41] “I always make the joke, like all the good ideas at Stax come from research.”

[00:33:07] “I think that’s actually the source of open source design really, it’s not the design files, it’s the knowledge and insight and those things that go around the design without which you’re essentially just copying other people on Dribbble at the end of the day.”


  • [00:34:07] Memo’s spotlight is an open source project called humaaans.
  • [00:35:03] Georgia’s spotlight is an open source project called PhishDetect.
  • [00:36:00] Eriol’s spotlight is a project from MozFest 2018 called Xenshana.
  • [00:36:43] Justin’s spotlight is open source hardware called Music Thing Modular by Tom Whitwell who is based in London.


Open Source Design Twitter

Open Source Design

Sustain Design & UX working group

Sustain Open Source Twitter

Memo Esparza Twitter

Eriol Fox Twitter

Georgia Bullen Twitter

Justin Scherer Twitter

Justin Scherer Website


Stax Twitter




Simply Secure-“Strength In Numbers: Designing to Help At-Risk Users Protect Against Phishing Attacks by Kelsey Smith


Music Thing Modular