How Atlassian’s design teams go from idea to execution

4 min read
Natalie Coy
  •  Jan 15, 2021
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Design is an endlessly challenging world. Pre-project roadblocks and lack of alignment often leads to delays and prevent the best work from getting done. But design doesn’t have to be an uphill climb—just take Atlassian for example. The team created Confluence templates to disrupt their most common creative hurdles.

“When we start a new design project, it’s often a blank slate,” says Chan Kim, lead designer for Confluence at Atlassian.  “Templates focused on outlining key elements of the design process enable my team to get started faster by reducing the hurdle of ‘where do we need to start?’”

Guaranteed design success isn’t something that can only be claimed by Atlassian, though. The team has graciously offered to share their top templates to help teams like yours. Use the three below and see how your team can lock in needed information right at the start of any project.

Understand who you want to reach with a persona template

The first step of any design process is to understand who exactly it is that you’re designing for. That means identifying personas.

“Personas are extremely valuable to design and other cross-functional teams,” Chan says. “By brainstorming specific details about a customer, our team is able to understand our customer’s needs much more innately. It helps us design with their challenges in mind.”

The team uses this persona template along with InVision’s to begin shaping a consistent view of their target audience. They say it also better equips them to provide empathy and insight when discussing features and product changes.

The exercise isn’t just beneficial to the design team, either. The design team’s due diligence often pays off company-wide as they share the filled-in template with all team members involved in building a new feature, product, or service. For instance, marketing uses the personas to define target audiences and write positioning, messaging, and create content.

Shape your creative strategy with a design review

Knowing your business, competitors, and customers is the key foundation of a smooth design process and often this creative strategy is found out through a design review. Knowing this, Atlassian teamed up with InVision to create a design review template to better understand their customers’ problem space. It all starts with collecting the background information your design team needs, outlining requirements, and explaining how design can solve the customer problem and improve the experience.

“Ensuring design reviews are well planned, introduced, and result in clear actionable feedback is crucial to an efficient design process” says Tom Milway at InVision. “We’re building tools to make the process for design teams not only more efficient but better documented overall”

The Atlassian team uses this template to systematize their design reviews. They add screenshots of designs ready to launch and include InVision prototypes. As each design is presented, they explain the potential benefits and challenges of each option and ask the team for their input.

Again, this template provides value outside of the session—for example, the team uses the questions and information gaps that surface during the design review to plan research sessions. They also continue to update as designs are finalized, and as tests and deployment plans are set up.

Inspire creativity within constraints with a design decision matrix 

It takes much more than a creative eye to effectively design digital experiences. Like any other craft, you need to focus your creative vision and map out a blueprint before you can get started. The team at Atlassian uses this design decision template to organize ideas and explain solutions.

“My team and I start off our decision process by thinking through our problem space,” says Siyang Liu, Atlassian designer. “Outline the design problem you’re working to solve and then the research supporting your creative approach. This way, your team can understand your strategy.”

Once the creative strategy is understood, they then review draft work, adding screenshots of draft designs and wireframes and explaining the pros and cons of each option.

After individual designers share their designs to the template, the team sits down to evaluate, using Freehand to keep track of decisions and follow up on open questions.

Design templates give our teams the tools they need to define our design process, eliminate inconsistencies, and reduce design debt across your whole organization,” says Alex Skougarevskaya, lead designer for Confluence. “It’s the perfect starting point for any design team.”

For more templates to kick off any kind of project

Explore the Freehand template gallery

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