Behind the scenes:

Designing the Heroku playing cards

At Heroku we love and respect art and craftsmanship, in all its forms. We also believe strongly in a healthy work/life balance, paying special attention to physical activity, mindfulness, social interactions and playfulness, all of which reinvigorates our creativity and help us perform our jobs.

We created a beautiful deck of cards following these principles. This page is a description of how we went about designing the deck.

Meet the Designer

Amy Lynn Taylor
Amy Lynn Taylor

When we imagined the perfect designer for this project, we knew Amy was the one. The Heroku design team partnered with her and the team at &yet in the past, and we love how she brings thoughtful imagination to everything she does. She just gets us.

The design process


Before designing these cards, we researched everything from the history of cards, traditional card symbolism (what even is a Jack, anyway?), and the style elements used in a classic deck of playing cards.

Then we started dreaming up ways to make the deck feel like our own. What could we change up about the traditional deck that might better reflect who we are and what we value? Heroku is such a developer-focused company, it only made sense that our face cards should feature developers rather than the typical medieval royalty. After all, developers are the new kingmakers.

We wanted our cards to reflect both the diversity of languages our platform supports as well as the diversity of the individuals working on it. So we set about thinking of ways we could express these ideas in the cards.

  • Sketching the jacks for Heroku cards

    We re-worked the gender balance so that ladies got equal billing, making female characters for one of the Jokers and two of the Jacks (we fondly call them Jackies).

  • Sketching the kings for the Heroku cards

    The Heroku Platform supports apps written in 8 core programming languages, and is extensible to hundreds more. We couldn’t possibly feature all of them, so we chose the 8 that are near and dear to us: Node.js, Ruby, Java, PHP, Python, Go, Scala, and Clojure.


Traditional face card characters are so homogenous and boring — we wanted our characters to be unique and diverse. The hope is that anyone playing with the deck could maybe find a little of themselves in one of the characters.


After a few rounds of brainstorming themes and sketching character concepts for our face cards, we shifted our focus to designing the overall look of the card deck itself. How could we take the concepts we’d decided on and bring them to life?

  • Kings and queens for the Heroku cards

    When it came time to design our developer royalty, we gave their wardrobes appropriate modern updates, incorporating hoodies, t-shirts, button downs and lots of tech accessories. Each character has their own distinct style.

  • Kings and queens for the Heroku cards

    Each of the King and Queen cards contains some symbolic references to one of our favorite programming languages. See the elephant woven into the King of Hearts’ sweater? Or the python on the Queen of Diamonds shoulder?

Heroku ecosystem

When it came time to style the cards, a lot of inspiration came from marrying the classic French-style card motifs and the existing Heroku branding which includes a lot of references to nature and tech, strong lines and a nice, cool-toned color palette.

Finishing touches

One of the things we value most is attention to detail. Well thought our details are often what takes something from good to great. This deck of cards is no exception.

After we’d designed all the basics, we worked our way back through the deck, trying to think of details that would add visual interest or enhance the personality of the deck.

  • The Heroku card jokers

    If you hold the jokers side by side, you’ll see that the cards are actually a diptych, meaning together they create a larger scene. In this one, we see two jokers, playfully gazing at each other. We like to imagine they’re twins.

  • Rivers of requests / Rapid waterfalls flow strong / Cascading beauty

    We love haikus. We create them for all kinds of things, from languages we love to this little deck of cards. You’ll find this one printed on the box and reflected throughout the design (the nickname for this deck is even “Waterfalls”).


Going back and adding fun, clever little details was probably our favorite part of the project. A favorite detail on these cards? Probably the tiny club/clover in the Gopher’s mouth on the Queen of Clubs.

Card suits

We care about the details

Everything we make is meticulously designed to improve the developer experience. Want to know more?

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