When I joined the company, the team grew to 11 peeps and started our transition from a service model with the design team serving projects in multiple verticals to a squad model. We also had more specializations in our team with UX researchers, product designers and UX engineer. We needed to spend more effort on operations to ensure the team stayed in sync across the board.
The Product Design team belonged to the larger Product Team and was divided into squads that we called Hives (cause Bear), and organised into 2 business units:
Under Brokerage, we were each assigned to a merchandise team or vertical:
"Design Ops, then, is everything that supports high quality crafts, methods, and processes." – Design Ops Handbook↩︎
I took on the responsibility of leading a few areas of Design Ops with the goal of helping our team do their best work. Borrowing the framework from Dave Malouf, we tackled tools & infrastructure, workflow, governance and people to ensure high quality output and efficient processes. Below are some projects that I worked on together with the team to achieve this goal.
Figma though new had started to become more popular as a design tool around early 2019. As I'd worked mainly with Figma for 1 year prior to joining the team, switching back to Sketch + Abstract + Invision + (sometimes) Zeplin combo had proven challenging. Though I was new, and did not fully grasp or embrace the new team's way of working so for the first months, I approached tooling as something to learn rather than immediately rejected it.
As I hit the 3 month mark of being a part of the team, it became apparent that there was some inefficiency in the way we worked, namely Sketch + Abstract regular disconnect, and the long wait time to sync design work across multiple tools.
With that in mind I proposed to evaluate the way we worked and with the support of our director Jeremy, started with conducting a survey across multiple teams.
The goal of the survey was to understand tooling usage, how they supported the work of designers and the work between designers, engineers, PMs and researchers; and whether Figma could potentially replace the current tooling suite.
We asked our designers:
We asked our partners in product and engineering:
I synthesized the responses from our teams and mapped them into 6 pain points:
The findings could further be grouped into 2 major themes:
Figma like Sketch, is only a tool and it can't help fix a bad communication process or documentation process. However there were certain issues that the tool could definitely aid in improving:
We identified missing features in Figma:
A transition and migration plan was drafted and we went through several steps before Figma was adopted as the main design tool.
1. Migrated Sketch Design Kit (the design components of our design system) over to Figma:
We imported the Sketch Design Kit and tweaked it to work in Figma. The first part was done by the design system core contributors to speed up the migration process:
A couple of months passed before we could run a retro of the Design Kit but upon reviewing the way the Kit had been set up and how the team had been using it, we came across new challenges:
With the challenges identified post Figma migration. We decided to work on "phase 2" of continuous improvements to the Design Kit and Design Pantry (our design system in code).
An additional requirement emerged as we reevaluated our icon set which were designed by multiple people and decided to use the standard Material icons instead for consistency.
The product strategy also shifted which introduced uncertainty that warranted changes to many components in the near horizon.
Sync Design Kit with Design Pantry
✺ Naming convention
New grouping of components into fewer files
✺ Global styles
✺ Icons & logos
Redesign components from the ground up with Figma
✺ New icon set from Material design
✺ Rebuilding base components first
✺ Only rebuilding components we regularly used (form fields, buttons, cards) as a major part of the design system may become obsolete with the new product strategy
We then checked the Design Kit components against the components existing in Storybook and: