Tofugu is looking for an experienced visual designer who will help us to design new features and pages, as well as redesign old ones on WaniKaniTofugu, and any future properties or projects.

This may be oversimplifying things, but our product development process looks mostly like this:

  1. A product spec detailing the functionality of a feature is written. This includes everything the product or feature does and how it does it, but not what it looks like. At this stage, we only draw "fat marker sketches," so as to not influence what it will end up looking like.
  2. An engineer develops and builds the functionality without much of the design. This allows us to figure out any functionality issues and gotchas first. Everything's working on a technical front, and we know what will be in the final version. The product spec and what we end up with aren't always the same, so we figure this out and get a working feature or product together before the design step.
  3. A designer (that's you!) takes the product spec, and the functioning product / feature, then does the design knowing exactly what exists as well as what they do.

Even though we are looking for someone who will work well with our existing team and design processes (see above), it's expected that this role will build out what "design" means at Tofugu. We're looking for someone with the experience and capability to lead that. You’re an ideal candidate for the job if you’re someone who has an outstanding design portfolio that demonstrates an ability to think strategically, while attending to the smallest of design details. You’re a person who can demonstrate your own proven processes for building and maintaining a design system. You’re not someone who is satisfied with the status quo. Rather, you think out of the box to push for consistently, unquestionably simple, intuitive, “it-just-works” solutions, and you aren’t afraid to take the leap to better solutions.

Not only should you have a lot of design experience (and be really good at web design, too), but you should have experience building out design systems (e.g. designing repeatable design components, and the standards around using them), mentoring other designers (if we add more design roles in the future), and have expertise in UI/UX. Being able to work in HTML, CSS, and maybe even Javascript is a big plus, though it is not required.

In other words, we're looking for a senior or above level designer who does good work, has worked with product applications, and can help us to build out a design team and process.

The Work

We think most of your time will be spent on WaniKani, though you will likely spend some time on the Tofugu website as well. There may be the occasional email and/or other miscellaneous design project that comes up as well. In this job, you will:

  • Lead our design efforts. Help us to build things with a timeless design, that doesn't just look like another Bootstrap clone. We want to find someone who is really, freakin' good at doing design, and has the potential to reach the top 1% of the web and application design world.
  • Work with product designer(s) and engineers to take finished project specs, and features, and turn them into something that's a joy to look at and use.
  • Produce layered mockup files (using something like Sketch, but that's going to be up to you in the end) that are easy to convert into code (or whatever final format your design takes).
  • Help design things other than web pages, too. We send out emails, for example. Heck, we may even get around to making a mobile app one of these days.🤞 Or maybe we need to make a New Year's card. What I'm saying is that your "design" work will focus on the web app side of things, but may go beyond that from time to time as well.
  • You'll be working on mobile and desktop design and everything in between. You need to be able to design for responsive pages, making them look great and work well no matter the size of the screen.
  • Implement and test designs in HTML and CSS — maybe even Javascript (not required but a big plus)
  • Create and then consistently iterate on the development of our pattern design library.
  • Evolve our pattern library into a full design system. Continue to develop and evolve it after that Version 1 is done, too.
  • Establish our design philosophies and how we do "design" as a company.
  • Work with our talented illustrator to create and integrate custom art and images into our design and product.


  • You've designed web pages… a lot of them! And you're really, really good at it.
  • You have experience with UI and UX, and have reasonable but strong opinions about what "good" UI and UX is. You can consider them within your design and predict what will happen when something is implemented in a certain way.
  • You care a lot about typography and readability. Tofugu and WaniKani are all about education, making type an important aspect of how we design (even if we don't do a particularly good job at it right now).
  • You are great at working with others — when it comes to design you're going to be in charge. But, design is one of those things where everyone will have a finger in the pie (product design did the rough & macro version, the illustrator added art, engineers are building the thing, someone wrote copy for the page, etc.). You should be able to take in feedback with an open mind and then use all the information that you have to make the best overall decision-- whether it's your's or someone else's.
  • You get shit done! Design is an art, but you know you have to put the work in to make it happen. You don't just sit around and wait for inspiration to strike. Sometimes you have to design something badly -- several times -- before the mud stops coming out of the faucet. You're at the point in your career where you can push through mental design blocks and come up with something good (even if it's not always perfect).
  • You're okay with breaking with design convention. Sometimes "beautiful" design isn't the best design for what the user needs. Sometimes ugly or difficult to use leads to better learning, and that's ultimately what we're here to do.
  • Although you have access to colleagues, you're great at being autonomous in your work. We're all remote, and the ability to figure out (most) problems by yourself is a must. You don't need permission, or an opinion, on everything to move it forward — at the same time you are good at soliciting feedback from the right people when it seems important.
  • You're reliable. You get things done when you say you'll get things done.
  • You're a good writer and a good reader. A lot of our (remote) communication comes down to these two skills.


Job Type: Part-time, Hourly, Contractor (~20 hrs/week)

Work Hours: Flexible

Work Location: Remote, Worldwide

Pay: $75/hr two month trial period, then $100/hr, + $25/hr after six months, pending evaluations

The hours for this role working hours are "whenever you want," so long as you're able to work with product design to create design mockups from project specs, as well as work with engineering, art, and copywriters to implement your design. This is a contractor position.

The person offered this role will need to complete a paid trial period ($75/hr) at around ten hours a week for the first two months. Upon completion of the trial period, if both sides like where this is going the hourly rate goes up to $100/hr. Six months after that, the rate goes up to $125/hr, pending positive evaluations. At this point, if everything fits, we're also open to negotiating hours, employment type, and the like.

If you think you would be really good at this, you have the experience, and you would like to help Tofugu and WaniKani to develop new features and improve old ones for our learners, we'd love to talk!

How to Apply

To apply you'll need to put together the following:

1. A Resumé, in PDF format

or something that shows your past work and design experience.

2. A Cover Letter+ in PDF format

We're just looking for a document that tells us about you, your philosophy, experience, and the like. You'll almost certainly go beyond the typical "one page" of a typical cover letter, so don't worry about that. Feel free to go beyond this list, but the kinds of things we're looking for include:

  • Why you are applying
  • Context around your design experience and ability
  • How you'll add value to Tofugu and our mission
  • How you measure success in design
  • Anything else you think will be relevant

3. Your Design Portfolio, in PDF format

Please put together your design portfolio — show us what you've designed and done in the past that is a good example of your work. Feel free to include context about each body of work so we understand the challenge and how you made decisions.

4. Your Work Challenge, in PDF format

Please redesign a page, feature, or an element of one of our properties. For example, WaniKani Reviews, the "Extra Study" module on the WK dashboard, Tofugu homepage, an item page on WK, the Tofugu Grammar Database, and so on. Large or small, anything is up for grabs. Please include your thought process behind design decisions as well, to help us to get an idea of how you work.

If there is a format besides PDF format that would be ideal for the work challenge, you can upload a PDF with a link to another format (like a webpage), or email us at after you've submitted your application.

You can use the form below to submit your application.


When you submit your application, you will receive a confirmation email saying we got it. We get a lot of applications, so it may take a little while. Please be patient. The hiring process for this position is:

  1. Submit application and work challenge
  2. Short Interview (30 minutes)
  3. Long Interview (2-3 hours) and/or Team Interviews (45 minutes x 3-5 people)
  4. Reference Interviews
  5. Offer
  6. Trial Period of ~10 hrs/week for two months, to make sure this is a good fit for both sides.

Interviews, steps, ordering and the like are subject to change, but the above is how it usually works.

If you have any questions, email

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