Design heritage

Company size

  • 3,500


  • Zeeland, MI


  • Retail

If ever a company had design in its DNA, it’s Herman Miller. Founded in 1905, Herman Miller is known around the world for iconic designs, like the Eames, Aeron, and Mirra chairs, Nelson Bubble Lamps, and many more.

Digital design at Herman Miller draws from the same strong design tradition—craft, style, and logistical prowess—that have made its furniture offerings such timeless classics. We talked to Senior Manager of Digital Design Eric Ishii Eckhardt, UI Design Lead Ryan Ganss, and UX Design Lead Laurel Stanley to learn how Herman Miller creates exceptional digital design experiences.

Herman Miller+

Herman Miller’s brand and product teams are tightly integrated, and they produce big works with small teams. The design team’s emphasis on collaboration and respect for the company’s design heritage also helps ensure a strong brand vision.

We have a brand that’s relevant to general culture, to design history. That’s not very common, especially for a furniture company.

Eric Ishii Eckhardt

Senior Manager, Digital Design, Herman Miller

The company currently has more designers than developers building digital products. That’s a rarity in enterprise businesses today and a reversal of the usual designer-to-engineer ratio. The digital team is working to add more in-house software engineering expertise with the goal of fully integrated product and platform teams.


1. Initial design/customer research to understand the problem

2. Project brief

  • Discovery meeting with stakeholders
  • Defines the goals, KPIs, and the work to be done
  • Use the RACI framework to define roles in a project

3. Project kickoff meeting - The team comes away with review dates, expected deliverables, and assignments

4. Run a design sprint - Not always necessary, but usually when projects are big and there are more unknowns

Design sprints help break the black box so people understand the design process and all the steps that go into it. It builds a lot more trust in the team and the process.

Ryan Ganss

UI Design Lead, Herman Miller

5. Collaborative work

  • The smaller project team creates content and wireframes
  • The deliverable at this phase is usually a comp, with the project team iterating on comps and copy until after each design review
  • They track time on all projects to get better at estimating time and resources for new projects, and to make a strong case to management when new hires are needed

6. Design comps - Test high fidelity comps of new ideas against existing site in usability tests

7. Design review - Design team and stakeholders (often the marketing team) review InVision prototypes

We use InVision comments pretty heavily. We’ll pull up an InVision page and walk people through it, with the designer presenting, and a note-taker taking notes with the comment feature to provide feedback.

Eric Ishii Eckhardt

Senior Manager, Digital Design, Herman Miller

8. Build out with developers

9. Usability testing - Types of tests depend on the project, but the team can run tests on prototypes, tree tests, taxonomy-based tests, and more—in both formal testing situations and unmoderated user labs

10. Launch and monitor KPI performance

We use the Google HEART framework, with a certain set of analytics that we look at monthly inside of that framework. Then we share those with a broader cross-functional team across the company

Laurel Stanley

UX Design Lead, Herman Miller

Org design

A centralized team structure keeps all designers on a team in a shared space. Some refer to this as the “agency model” or a “center of excellence,” as other teams come to the centralized design team for their services—much like the way a client would approach an agency. Centralized design teams work in a shared studio space where work can be posted and discussed regularly, which helps designers grow in their craft.

  • Digital Design and Brand Design - Centralized design team model where Digital Design sits under Brand Design.
  • Close collaboration with Marketing team - Digital collaborates with Marketing regularly. Marketing often defines KPIs and creates the marketing strategy, and project management is split between Marketing and Digital Design. The majority of development is outsourced.


  • Frequent feedback from peers fosters growth and engagement.
  • Easier to create a unified user experience across products and platforms.
  • Centralized teams can create a grand vision for a product, and build a design culture.


  • Design can be opaque and less collaborative across functions when it’s centralized.
  • Designers may leave important collaborators like engineers out of the ideation process in this structure, which can create political conflict.
  • Design teams are often disconnected from technical requirements when they’re isolated from engineers.

How they use InVision

  • Conducting design reviews, presenting their work
  • Collecting feedback on their work both in person and at distance
  • Using Workflow to communicate screen status
  • Socializing design ideas
  • Prototyping new concepts
  • Getting sign-off on design concepts

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