July 17, 2019
DesignOps at Domain
With Kory Leung — DesignOps at Domain.
In your own terms, at a high level, how do you define or think about “DesignOps”?
As I recently mentioned in a previous article, DesignOps can be a way of letting designers design instead of wearing 50 hats. It’s a way of restoring design purity and evangelizing their work throughout the company cross-disciplinary, which is more important than ever as teams become more agile. It is also the practice of reviewing, creating, and improving the design department constantly overall.
What was the tipping point for you, where you realised this was something that was required and beneficial in your team/company? Was there anything that made you take notice and decide to venture down this DesignOps path? Or any early wins that made you pursue it further?
Coming from a design and an operations background, I had heard about DesignOps originally through the Airbnb article (that I’m sure everyone has read or seen) and I thought “what a perfect match!”. The role is highly beneficial in that it provides a space where we can talk to each other openly about anything, help each other improve and perform in our roles, and have plenty of fun doing it!
I’m a huge advocate for design in general, so being able to break down silos, remove blockers, create awesome things, and bring in the design team early and where necessary, is plenty of fun.
What does the tooling and flow/process look like for your design team (and development team - if applicable)?
The projects that we work on across different teams are quite complex and therefore we use a variety of tools such as Sketch, Figma, Invision, and Abstract. We’re working on whether or not we can consolidate to one “ultimate” tool that will work for everyone, but as usual, that takes time. We use a unified language UI system across our design team and engineering team to reduce inefficiencies and we’re constantly working with each other to improve this.
How does DesignOps effect the efficiency/effectiveness of your day-to-day operations in the team as a whole, and more specifically in the design team? Where have you noticed the most improvements? (ie. Speed of work, frictionless of handovers, happiness of employees, quality/consistency of work etc).
We’ve had some big backlog projects that have started to see some solid progress such as some workshop toolkits which provide guidance for non-design employees to run their own workshop, recruitment for users, and further unifying design and engineering.
Our team has grown in the past few years so we’re still adapting to the best methods and what works for each team, however, we’ve seen improvements across our scrum teams with Design QA, reviewing and sharing work, and reducing inefficiencies across recruitment and legacy processes.
What advice would you give to designers wanting to make a career pathway in DesignOps?
I would always say to be curious, always ask questions, follow some influencers, and get involved amongst the community. It’s a relatively “new” space that is full of excitement and opportunity. Be comfortable with ambiguity and get involved!