Design Chats

Inside the Design Team at Salesforce

4 min read
Conor O'Driscoll  •  Sep 9, 2014
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We’re tracking down InVision users inside the world’s most amazing companies to discover their favorite tools, inspirations, workspace must-haves, and the philosophy behind what makes them so awesome. Today, we’re talking to Adrian Rapp, Senior Product Designer at Salesforce, a company providing customer relationship management (CRM) software for all businesses great and small. We chatted to Adrian about being inspired by the people around you, paying attention to the details, and leaving a design legacy.

Hey Adrian, thanks for taking the time to talk with us! Tell us a little bit about Salesforce and your role there.

No problem! I’m a Senior Product Designer here at Salesforce, on the Service Cloud team. Salesforce is a lot of things to a lot of businesses, but, at a high level, we aim to make business easier to conduct for our customers. We help big companies manage their business, their sales, their service, their marketing, etc. Essentially, we’re a one-stop-shop to help businesses grow while maintaining strong relationships with their customers.

I’ve found Salesforce to be a really rewarding place to work. I’m able to work on things that I care about with incredibly smart people. Working on projects that affect millions of lives is hugely fulfilling.Twitter Logo

It’s great to know that we’re providing a lot of value, not only to large enterprises, but to individuals. When tackling a design challenge, we look beyond metrics like efficiency and try to focus on the people who use our products.

InVision really facilitates creative exploration. We can now communicate a design idea so much more quickly – and more thoroughly – than before.

Before Salesforce, you worked at a few smaller startups – How did you find the transition from a smaller company to a large one like Salesforce?

A lot of the core principles are the same. You always want to make sure you’re solving the right problems.Twitter Logo No matter where you work, the process is still the same: ask a lot of questions, get out of the office, and see how people are using your design in their natural environments.Twitter Logo

Where the process differs is that you’re not necessarily able to ship as frequently at a larger company. You have to be a little more disciplined in making sure you’re working on the right things in the right way. When your decisions are affecting millions of people and their businesses, it’s crucial to get things right the first time.

Where do you get inspiration for your work?

I’m personally a big automotive fan. I love the design of cars from the 60s. Looking at a car from then versus one from today, you can see how much care went into every component during that era. I find that really inspiring, and it reminds me to pay attention to the small things in everything that I work on. The best products are those that pay attention to the little details.Twitter Logo

I love to see what other designers are doing too. I’ll often go and check out marketplaces like ThemeForest to get a feel for how thousands of other designers are trying to solve the same problem: A blog page, for example. I read a lot of great blogs about design too – Little Big Details, Pttrns, User Onboarding, Empty States – the list is endless.

I don’t mean to sound overly cheesy, but I’m also really inspired by the people on my team: the designers, the researchers, the developers, the product managers. Working on cool technology is great, but really, it’s the people that inspire me.Twitter Logo We have an event here called UX Ignite, where designers get up and give presentations on whatever they want to talk about, whether it’s how to better think about accessibility when designing, how to use After Effects to communicate animation, or how to make amazing gravy. It’s a really collaborative group of people, and I find it tremendously inspiring to work alongside them.

The better you can understand your users and what they’re trying to do, the more likely you’re going to be able to design the right product.

How are you guys using InVision in your process?

InVision has been an incredible asset to us. It really facilitates creative exploration. We can now communicate a design idea so much more quickly – and more thoroughly – than before. Before, we’d have to sketch out ideas, and then prototype it, and spend a lot of time getting it to a fidelity that we could put it in front of a customer to get their feedback. Now we can do all of that very quickly. InVision has been invaluable in that respect.

Using InVision really helps me think through all the interactions within a product and surface any gaps in the design. It’s one thing to have static screens of key interactions, but it’s another thing entirely to have literally every single reaction available: every click, scroll, swipe and touch.

What advice would you give to young designers starting out?

Stop trying to design pretty things & try to solve real problems for real people.Twitter Logo The better you can understand your users and what they’re trying to do, the more likely you’re going to be able to design the right product. Design is a two-way discussion with your users.Twitter Logo

But above all, I’d say “Believe in yourself.” Stop wondering what it might be like to build something, and instead go build it.Twitter Logo Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t think about “getting into design”: Just go for it.Twitter Logo

Great design is all about aligning business goals with users’ goals. If I could leave any sort of impact, it would simply be to satisfy both.

How would you define success? Do you think you’ve found it yet?

For me, success is going to bed happy and looking forward to more tomorrow.Twitter Logo And I think that I’ve found that. I’ve found it in working for an innovative company that’s building meaningful products that are fun to work on. I’ve found it in the great people that I work with. I’ve found it in the fact that I truly love the work I’m doing. I come home from work & I keep working. Not because I have to, but because I truly love what I do.Twitter Logo

Outside of work, I have an awesome crew of family and friends, a wonderful girlfriend, and a cool dog, so I feel like a happy guy.

What sort of a legacy do you want to leave behind for the design world?

I saw a documentary on product design not too long ago, called Objectified, and there was a segment where one designer reflected on how his design work really took off when he realised that the majority of things that people design end up in the garbage. I definitely don’t want to contribute to garbage. I want to work on things that are meaningful to users; that delight themTwitter Logo, whilst also benefiting the company that I’m designing for. Great design is all about aligning business goals with users’ goals.Twitter Logo If I could leave any sort of impact, it would simply be to satisfy both.

“When tackling a design challenge, look beyond metrics and focus on the people who use products.”
Twitter Logo

“Ask a lot of questions, get out of the office, and see how people are using your design in their natural environments.”
Twitter Logo

“The best products are those that pay attention to the little details.”
Twitter Logo

“The better you can understand your users and what they’re trying to do, the more likely you’re going to be able to design the right product.”
Twitter Logo

“Stop trying to design pretty things & try to solve real problems for real people.”
Twitter Logo

“Design is a two-way discussion with your users.”
Twitter Logo

“Don’t be afraid to fail.”
Twitter Logo

“Work on things that are meaningful to users, that delight them.”
Twitter Logo

“Great design is all about aligning business goals with users’ goals”
Twitter Logo

“Provide a lot of value, not only to large enterprises, but to individuals.”
Twitter Logo

“You always want to make sure you’re solving the right problems.”
Twitter Logo

“Pay attention to the small things in everything that you work on.”
Twitter Logo

Photography by Peter Prato.