Potholes on the Journey to Design Transparency

The journey from ‘secret design business’ to ‘design transparency’. It’s my own journey at Atlassian, relevant to anyone who is on, or about to embark upon, a similar journey. Industry leaders paint a picture of how things should be, and that’s great, but I’ve always had trouble bridging the gap. HOW do I get there? What do I do first? They make collaboration and design processes seem simple, but the truth is they’re hard. You may need to change both your own, and your team’s habits. This talk aims at bridging the gap by learning through some of my wins and even more importantly, my failures.

The talk will consist of the following ideas, each of which will have real examples, good and bad, and will conclude with a brief discussion point. I’d love to harness the wealth of experience in the room to broaden my talk, but also to emphasise the fact that the journey never ends. We’re all changing and adapting our process to constantly improve the outcomes of our work.

Cultural changes

I’ll give brief rundown on some of the key cultural shifts that need to occur and how to empower yourself to help facilitate them. The key benefits of these culture shifts (iterative value over perfection, forming trust, cohesion, buy-in and the importance of defining success criteria) and some things to look out for (managing expectations and the need to have a clear agreement on who the design custodians are).

Channels for sharing

  • Experiences my colleagues and I have had using email, wiki pages and agile planning boards
  • Design walls; when you’ve never before used one first hand it’s like flying blind. I’ll walk through what I tried, what was successful, what failed, what I learnt and how it has evolved over the last 2 years
  • Things to be mindful of when communicating designs
  • Getting the most out of your design critiques
  • Examples of when it’s perhaps best not to share concepts


  • Creating a comprehensive collection of visual material
  • Designing with developers or other designers
  • Engaging with people who feel uncomfortable working away from their code editor; sketching, prototyping, story telling
  • Prototyping; when to start moving designs into code
  • Improving design velocity
  • Using a pattern library and making all design files accessible and versioned
  • Creating a shared understanding
  • Helping developers become more UX-aware
  • Making sure technical issues don’t stifle ideation

The slides from my talk at UX Australia

Audio on the UX Australia site


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