Studio

Building InVision Studio: Insight from Tom Giannattasio

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Recently, we announced InVision Studio, the world’s most advanced screen design tool. Leading up to Studio’s public arrival in January 2018, we’ve also announced demo events all over the world, and recently demoed it for a packed house in New York City. Amid all this excitement, we keep hearing one thing—this is the tool that brings all of the needs of digital product designers into one holistic platform.

Studio was born out of insights gained by working closely with some of the world’s best design teams, and finding inspiration in how they create the world’s most beloved products.

To learn more about what goes into designing a product design platform for digital product designers, we caught up with Tom Giannattasio. Today, Tom leads the Studio product team, but spent years as a designer — previously working at Sabre, Twitter, and MIT.



The origins of InVision Studio

Back in January 2016, InVision acquired Giannattasio’s company Macaw, creator of design-to-code and screen design tools.

By the time the Macaw team joined InVision, he realized how deep the tooling problems in the design industry reached. “[These problems are] felt by pretty much every digital team in the world,” Giannattasio says. “I remember Clark [Valberg, InVision CEO] said to me, ‘Hey, let’s go after this whole thing.’ ”

“When I joined InVision, I remember Clark said to me, ‘Hey, let’s go after this whole thing.’ ”

Conducting “gap analysis” of current design tooling

Giannattasio started with a complete, thorough “gap analysis” of the entire design tooling industry, researching every tool intended for even the smallest part of the design workflow.

The sheer number of tools confirmed some of the most obvious issues for Giannattasio. “Interaction design is being done in all these different silos,” he says. Drawing in one place. Prototyping in another. Yet another tool for animation. And something to convert to code for developers.

Early mockup of InVision Studio (created using Freehand)

“The workflow was so disconnected. There wasn’t one tool allowing you to properly design for every dimension of the screen. So everything we did came out of solving for that,” Giannattasio says.

Clear gaps Giannattasio discovered included lack of advanced layouts, poor responsiveness, a lack of design systems integration capabilities, and more screen design pains designers and teams have accepted for years.

Early brainstorm of triggers in Studio (created using Freehand)

When it came to the gap of advanced motion graphics, Giannattasio and his team drew some lessons from another highly anticipated tool—Motion, an advanced animation tool that formed one of the foundational pieces for Studio.

“We realized, okay, you’d have to do your design work in Sketch, then port it over to Motion to do some animation design,” Giannattasio says. “And if you want to make a change, it’s a nightmare. We thought it would be so much better if you could draw and flow through all of these different jobs you have to do, seamlessly, in one place. So in a way, Motion really helped emphasize in our minds that we needed to go bigger.”



Building the Studio team while building Studio

Giannattasio built the Studio team at the same time the product vision and the product itself was coming together. “Maybe a month after I started at InVision, we had end-to-end comps done of what we thought the product should look like and work like,” he says.

The evolution of Studio’s Inspector pane, from early concept to today

Once Giannattasio and InVision executives shared a vision for the product Studio would become, it was time to start building his team. The first person to join him as full-time dedicated to Studio was engineer Hugo Bonacci.

“Hugo went into overdrive,” Giannattasio smiles. “He’s super passionate about this and extremely dedicated. We did some awesome stuff back then, with just the 2 of us for a number of months.” With a much larger team now dedicated to Studio, “it’s incredibly exciting to see everyone so pumped.”

“The workflow was so disconnected. There wasn’t one tool allowing you to properly design for every dimension of the screen. So everything we did came out of solving for that.”

A tool for all workflows

When thinking through the impact of Studio, Giannattasio and his team wanted to build a tool for designers, teams, and companies at all levels of design maturity.

Through research and our close relationship with design teams across the industry, at InVision we often hear a common refrain—many feel design tools are built for companies with perfect design-to-development workflows. As a counter, Studio won’t require a perfect ratio of designers to engineers, top-to-bottom commitment to design thinking, or advanced design maturity. In fact, Giannattasio says, it’s intended to lead companies toward that future.

Studio opens up a ton of opportunities for teams and companies to think more deeply about design,” he says. “It allows you to focus on the user experience and less on all the random business concerns that come from a disjointed workflow. You don’t have to worry about, ‘Do we have room in the budget to hire someone who does animation? Uh oh, we have to move into another tool. What plan of this tool do we get? It’s expensive. We want to build a design system, how do we integrate that?”

Giannattasio continues: “With Studio, it’s all just there. With a consolidated tool, people are going to be able to focus a lot more on designing—as they should. That applies to small companies, large companies, and everyone in between. It removes so much friction for the whole process.”

“With Studio, it’s all just there. With a consolidated tool, people are going to be able to focus a lot more on designing—as they should.”

Giannattasio names animation as one example of the huge impact a consolidated toolset could have for companies who want to elevate design.

“During the research phase, we kept hearing that a lot of people and companies didn’t consider animation as part of their design workflow—which is slightly mind-boggling, really, because it’s so important to rounding out the user experience. But it was because the tools they had didn’t offer it, and they didn’t want to go out and pay for another tool or waste the time switching back and forth.”

Looking ahead to January 2018

With InVision Studio’s highly anticipated release coming in January 2018, Giannattasio continues to seek input from leading design teams in organizations around the world.

“I’m really excited to see this in the hands of people, to see what they create with it,” Giannattasio says. “That’s one of the most satisfying things about building tools, when you’re surprised by what people do with it. That feeling of, ‘Wait, how the hell did they make that? They made that inside our tool?’ is so mind-blowing. The creativity this unlocks for people is so satisfying. So I can’t wait to put this out into the world and see what designers create with it.”

“That feeling of, ‘Wait, how the hell did they make that? They made that inside our tool?’ is so mind-blowing. The creativity this unlocks for people is so satisfying.”

Excited to experience more of InVision Studio? Request early access below.

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Author

Claire Karjalainen
Claire is a content strategist at InVision. She's all about words, technology, design, dogs, Colorado sports, and the scifi/fantasy section. Say hi on Twitter!

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