August 19, 2020

DesignOps at Copperleaf Technologies

Headshot photo of Bob Sampson


Design Operations Lead at

Copperleaf Technologies

With Bob Sampson — Design Operations Lead at Copperleaf Technologies.

In your own terms, at a high level, how do you define or think about “DesignOps”?

DesignOps to me is an enabling position for designers and developers alike. You work with designers to make sure they have all the tools they need, and the knowledge of your applications, so they can think more about the problem and less about the design. And you work with developers to make sure they have the code they need to make consistent applications without having to think if they’re doing the right thing.

What was the tipping point for you, where you realised this was something that was required and beneficial in your team?

For me, we were growing and I could have taken the path of owning one of our products as a Senior Product Designer, or growing into a new role with our budding design system, so I could enable all new designers we’d be hiring.

What do the tooling and flow/process look like for your design team (and development team, if applicable)?

Our team uses tools like Confluence for a wiki, Figma for designs, for testing, Whimsical for doing quick flowcharts and wireframes (if Figma is just too much).

How does DesignOps affect the efficiency/effectiveness of your day-to-day operations in the team as a whole?

Consistency is a big thing for us as we’re building more applications, they need to be thought of as a “suite” and no longer a one-off. So for me, every little change has to be thought of as being something could be consumed by all products, so a lot of collaboration and testing is needed to make sure we don’t mess up App X just because App Y needs something.

What advice would you give to designers wanting to make a career pathway in DesignOps?

Do you have to learn to code? No. But, you do have to know how things work, so you can talk the talk and walk the walk when things need to change. E.g. you need to know how borders work on a div. Are they inside the box, or outside? That thus translates to any Figma components you might be building for your designers.

What resources or influences have had the most impact on the way you approach your day to day operations in the DesignOps space? (This could be other companies, books, podcasts, articles, talks etc).

Other design systems! And when you can, reach out to DesignOps (or designers) that work on design systems you like. That’s why I love the Slack group. If you want to ask someone from Shopify or IBM about something in their design systems, they’re in there.

What is something you believe, that most other people would think is crazy?

Some people like company all the time, but I like to be able to go for a long drive in the summer, just myself and the music blaring and windows open. A cleanse for my brain.