Thanks for sharing. I'll definitely try to implement something like that here.
Hey Nick, I just left this comment on the article but maybe this is a better place to talk about it.
First off, great read. Thanks for sharing. We have a similar process at my shop but we have a couple of snags that I have trouble getting through.
- How do you choose what to work on? Do you have a roadmap that dictates what you do? Or is it more organic?
- Does the entire design team stay with each product/feature as it gets engineered or is there a "lead" type designer that sticks with it through out? For example, to help with corner cases, fit and finish UI tweaks, etc.
- Do you use this process for all products and features or do you have a different process for larger/smaller scoped projects?
Hey Mitch. Replies below!
All of our product teams have a designated person who is similar to a Product Manager. They generally come from the engineering team and are tasked with the vision and roadmap of a product. The roadmap should come from the entire team's input, but you need someone who becomes the "Master" of what everyone works on.
All our products have 1-3 designers attached. Designers at Shopify move around to different teams a lot, so we put more on important projects as they kick off, and ramp designers down as features move into maintenance or slow points.
My role as design lead allows me to be present on all teams as well.
- We've been using this method on newer teams for the past few months, and integrating it into other teams when needed, for example when we kick off bigger features. You have to use your judgement on if a feature is big enough to command 8 people's time. Some tasks should follow a different process, but still remain collaborative.
Hope that helps!
Hey Greg, thanks for the reply. I have a few more questions (sorry!) that I'd love your insight on :D
The roadmap should come from the entire team's input, but you need someone who becomes the "Master" of what everyone works on.
I'd love to read more about this. Our roadmap is constructed by C-level peeps and rarely sees team-wide collaboration.
Designers at Shopify move around to different teams a lot, so we put more on important projects as they kick off, and ramp designers down as features move into maintenance or slow points.
We have a similar approach but it always seems like theres more ramp up than ramp down. Our designers do a lot of front-end dev too so many this is why. The problem is we usually don't have a lot of time for a truly collaborative design process because we can't shift work around as quickly. Its difficult to focus on new things when you have so much work to do on current products/features. Do you ever experience this?
You have to use your judgement on if a feature is big enough to command 8 people's time.
Definitely. Maybe the problem is the disparity in team size our design team is 5 members while the engineering team (which is mostly server-side engineers; only a handful of front-end devs) has 30+. Or is that a normal design/dev ratio in your opinion?
Roadmap: Can't speak too much to this as it varies team to team in process. Big takeaway should be to encourage everyone to feel ownership over the product and suggest roadmaps. Dedicate time (meetings) to everyone writing out user stories – then get someone to organize them.
All our web designers do their own Front-end here too. I think you nailed it in #3
Our ratio is 1 designer to every 4-5 engineers. You seem a bit off that, so I think it explains #2.
Mitch if you have anymore questions you can find my email on my site. :)
Cool. Thanks for the followup, Greg :D