It Began in 2005

Ross Johnson founded 3.7 DESIGNS in 2005 while providing IT support for local Ann Arbor companies. While IT was “paying the bills” Johnson got tired of the daily “my computer no work, please fix! ok-thx-bye” phone calls. Having designed and built websites as part of his IT services for nine years, it was a natural “pivot” (+10 points for using start-up buzzword.)

With a background in technology, fine arts and social science Johnson found himself in a unique position to offer standards compliment, usable, accessible and emotionally engaging websites. This proved to be a valuable differentiator and business took off. Now here we are, nine years later.

Our Talent Grows

In 2013 we experienced a semi-hostile take over. Then CEO Ross Johnson married Lyndsay Dusek of MeadowFete Media a talented competing design agency. Armed with the same last name, Lyndsay demoted Ross allowing him to focus on producing top quality work and advancing the company vision and process.

Approximately one year later, head of project management and business development Declan O’Neill proved himself too valueable to lose so the Johnsons pulled him into the partnership as well. They knew that ten years of experience in managing web project, O’Neill would ground the two creative screwballs who just like to write code and design interfaces.

Core Values

Inspired by Zappos.com (Yes! Another start-up references +100 points) 3.7 DESIGNS operates under ten core values that direct, shape and drive everything we do.

  1. Love the journey
  2. Think holistically
  3. Make work fun and enjoyable
  4. Embrace and drive change
  5. Pursue growth and learning
  6. Focus on the import over the urgent
  7. Work smarter, not harder
  8. Create honest and transparent relationships
  9. Share your wisdom
  10. Learn from your mistakes

The Butterfly and "3.7"

People often ask what 3.7 stands for and why we have butterflies all over the place. Some common guesses:

  • Grade point average (Maybe if we were 4.0 students)
  • Some play on 37 Signals (Nope, didn’t know about the company when we founded.)

So what does 3.7 mean? Glad you asked.

In chaos theory, there is a concept called “The Butterfly Effect.” The Butterfly Effect is a theory where a single small input can cause a chain reaction of exponential growing outputs.

The classic example is a butterfly flapping it’s wings could, in theory, change weather patterns on the other side of the world. There is a formula which looks to map population growth pt+1 = ((K – pt)/K)*(1 + r)*pt = ((K – pt)/K)*s*pt.

When the multiplier S reaches 3.7 in this formula, the population jumps in an unpredicted way.

At 3.7 DESIGNS, we apply the concept of the butterfly effect to business. Creating small inputs (like a website, identity) that create exponential outputs (like business growth.)

Where We Are Now

Today we’re headquartered in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor, right above a brewery no less! (We only sample beers after hours… well, usually…) We’ve worked with clients across the United States and even a few worldwide. We’ve released our own products, lead local meetups, been mentioned in several books, held conferences and even hosted a podcast or two.