The Future of Design is Collaborative

Why I’m Joining Figma

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Illustration by the very talented, Peter Barnaba
  1. A fun glance into my unique interview process
  2. Some thoughts on the future of design tools

Why Figma?

When I first met Dylan (co-founder and CEO of Figma) a few years ago, I was skeptical that a full-featured design tool could be built with browser technology. Since then, the team has quickly proven me wrong with their ability to keep up with modern design needs like design systems, responsive components, and prototyping — all the while inventing their own new paradigms like multiplayer and vector networks. Figma has become a serious high quality tool in just a single year of being publicly available.

  1. We moved faster by having multiple roles collaborate in our design files. Our PM, marketing, and legal teams explored copy on their own so they could understand the impact of text length in layout, saving us the menial time of updating, re-exporting, and sending back each iteration. Our engineers measured or exported assets as they needed to. Our CEO included comments in context of the designs themselves instead of email.
  2. Our product teams finally had a single link as the source of truth for our latest designs. Since files in Figma are always up to date, PMs and engineers no longer needed to install an app or download yet another version of: Dashboard-2.1.4-NL-Final-Design-I-Promise-This-Time.sketch
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How I used Design Sprint methodologies to find the right job fit

Making career transitions as a designer later in your career can be challenging. Should you go deeper into design management, or explore engineering further and try to build an app? Should you join a small startup, a mid-sized company, a large corporation, or an agency?

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We didn’t schedule things this formally, but this is roughly where things ended up retrospectively
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Some thoughts on the future of design tools

Early on in my design career, I thought it was my sole responsibility to design the product to best meet the goals of the team. I thought I was supposed to go into a room, potentially with a few other designers, and leave the room with the plan of what to build. Then I was supposed to spend time explaining the idea to the rest of the team.

I learned then to drop the ego about my role as a designer, because as it turns out, everyone is a designer. We all have a responsibility to make our products great, together.

Dan taught me good ideas can come from anywhere. Within a month, we started colocating our designers with our engineers, something that sounds obvious in hindsight but at the time wasn’t all that common at Google. Oftentimes people instead sat together by role, sometimes on separate floors entirely. I fundamentally disagree with this now; sitting near each other while working together keeps teams connected as they work toward a common goal.

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Concept (left) by Min-Sang and the Google iOS team. Right image is a hypothetical alternative.

Design tools of the future will make it easier to help people of all backgrounds present ideas on a level playing field.

After all, half of the UX designers I know didn’t study design originally. They studied psychology, art, business, philosophy, architecture, etc. With common components and sophisticated design systems like material design, people should be able to drag and drop these basic ideas to put them together, like legos. These days, tools shouldn’t have a steep learning curve. It should be easy to mock up concepts in high fidelity, together.

A quick example of how components can make drawing a basic layout super fast

Fast forward to today

I’m not sure if there will ever really be one tool to rule them all. In fact, I’m not sure I’d want that future given innovation is at its best when there are many players on the field. But if I’m betting on a tool and a company to invest in right now, I’m betting on Figma. With an impressive team that believes in open healthy communication, great values, and doing crazy things like shipping 6 features in 6 days, it seems like a great bet to me.

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Oh hai, new family! 🙌

Written by

Design Director at Figma in SF. Previously led the UX team at ClassPass in NY, before that the iOS Google App in Mountain View. Carnegie Mellon Alum. ENFP.

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