The product folks at Let's Talk! are a distributed team with a 9 hour difference. A lack of official processes and shared assets accrued a significant UX debt that hurt UI consistency and team collaboration.

The problem

  • Designers were often unsure about the latest version of a UI component and found themselves making decisions that overwrote existing design decisions.
  • Engineers were unclear about the reasons behind certain design decision and made self-directed compromises to reach deadlines.

An unchecked amount of UI inconsistencies was creeping in. How could I help the team speak the same language?

Multiple dropdown styles within Let’s Talk!

The solution

The team needed to iron out the bumps in the collaboration process. I traced out 3 principles to help me guide my efforts: Transparency, visibility and clarity.

In hindsight, the journey included:

  • Performing a platform audit and UI inventory.
  • Deciding on a direction for duplicated interface components.
  • Creating new components to address unmet interface needs.
  • Documenting design rationale in the team’s first Style Guide—a living document describing design decisions and UI Patterns.
  • Creating a Pattern Library for the designers, with the key elements of the interface.
  • Replacing inaccurate hand-crafted hand-off documents with design inspector tools.
  • Introducing version control to the maintenance cycle of the Pattern Library. This allowed designers to have more ownership over the changes they brought into the platform, and kept developers on the loop at every step of the way.
  • Crafting a UX checklist for designers, so they could confidently assess if their work met their own standards.
Pattern Library Repository
Pattern Library Repository

Through the Style Guide and the Pattern Library we arrived at a sustainable process. The product’s design strategy is accessible to everyone in the team. Consequently, designers and developers are empowered to make their own micro design decisions on the fly, without breaking uniformity.