Since the start of our Design Better Podcast, we’ve been on a mission to deliver insights from the world’s most renowned design leaders that will help teams and individuals elevate their design practice.
The new season of the podcast launches on Tuesday, April 30th, and we’ve found the conversations inspiring. The interviews, which are all about the connected workflow, are equal parts action and inspiration. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts, to get the first episode the moment it’s released—an interview with Facebook’s Julie Zhou.
It was an honor to get to speak with this wide-ranging group of design leaders from so many industries, ranging from tech giants like Google to companies in the midst of a design transformation like USAA. Their lessons and experiences have changed our practices—so it’s safe to say that they’ll have an impact on your work too.
So to prep for season three, here’s a quick catch up on where we’ve been and what to expect in our new season.
Season 1: Product-driven companies
In our first season of the podcast, we focused on the idea of product-driven companies: organizations using human-centered design, along with a strong collaboration between product, design, and engineering to make great products. Think: Google or Airbnb in consumer tech, or LEGO in consumer products.
We learned from IDEO and the Stanford d.school founder David Kelley about what it takes to bring designers and engineers together, how our workspace influences our work, and how we can encourage creative confidence in our companies.
He said, “Rules in the workplace] stole creativity. It’s all about having a casual feel to the place that makes you feel ok about being there. The state you want your people in is relaxed attention.”
“Rules stole creativity.”
David went on to say, “Space matters so much. Being in a collaborative space where you can see what’s going on, it’s more human as well.” Hear more on from David on the power of space at work:
Listen to David Kelley expound on collaboration here
In addition to helping design the first commercial web browser, Irene Au, design partner at Khosla Ventures, has done influential and foundational work at places like Google, Yahoo, and Udacity. We learned how earlier in her career she arrived at a pivotal moment in Google’s history, and helped shape the way that Google’s products clearly value design today. It was a conversation that resonated with us and our listeners alike:
Irene recounted her early days at Google and cofounder Larry Page’s vision for user interface in their products. Back then, the philosophy was “function over form” —but as products like the iPhone came to redefine beauty and user experience in technology, even Google began to move towards a new view of design.
She says, “When Larry became CEO, he started to champion the importance of beauty and how that is just as important as having efficiency and functionality in an experience. He made a comment at one All Hands meeting about white space.
“Sometimes white space can be really valuable because it helps you better understand what to focus on.”
For example, whereas before we eschewed white space because we wanted to cram in as much information as possible, Larry pointed out that sometimes white space can be really valuable because it helps you better understand what to focus on.”
Check out her interview for more from Irene about Google’s design philosophy transformation.
Season 2: Design at scale
In our second season, we focused on design at scale: how design leaders approach operationalizing design as a company grows, and how design systems and design thinking help companies align teams and design better products, faster.
We found out the secrets of running a great DesignOps team from Head of Design Operations Meredith Black of Pinterest, and it turns out there’s some skill overlap with being an FBI agent.
Meredith reached a crossroads early in her career when she almost became an intelligence analyst for the FBI. That was until she fell in love with design—leading her to a position with IDEO.
She says of her thinking at the time, “I realized I would be working differently than I would be at the FBI, but still solving problems and…working with people, and still unearthing how to make people’s lives better, just in a different way.”
Hear more from Meredith and the skills that helped drive with her passion for design forward.
From Kim Williams, Group Manager and Senior Director, UX Core, at Indeed, we learned about the evolution of their design system and how collaboration across the company is key to any design system’s success. She explained the cross-connection between brand and design systems at an organization.
Kim said, “It’s all really one cohesive system and you’re really just acknowledging the difference. That the person that is defining the bolder visionary aspect of it might not be the person that is writing the specification and writing all the use cases of creating the component itself. So it’s spanning the full gamut. And understanding the differing strategies across teams.”
Hear more from Kim and connecting the work of teams for more integrated, holistic products and design systems.
Launching April 30th, Season 3: Connected workflow
Now in our third season, we’re exploring the connected workflow: how designers work more effectively and efficiently with their engineering and product counterparts. We’ve interviewed a broad range of guests to learn how building key partnerships in an organization can help teams work more efficiently. You’ll learn:
- How designers and engineers can change up their partnership and break the mold in the product design process from Dan Mall, Founder and Director of Superfriendly and Brad Frost, author of Atomic Design.
- The importance of building trust and relationships to the design process, and she shared a wealth of insights around measuring the value of design from Abigail Hart Gray, Director of UX at Google.
- How inclusion and innovation makes design teams and organizations better from Benjamin Evans, Inclusive Design Lead at Airbnb.
Listen to a special preview of season three now.
All of this and so much more is packed into season three of the Design Better Podcast, coming Tuesday, April 30th—including interviews with leaders from Facebook, the Wall Street Journal, Atlassian, and Intuit.
We hope you learn as much as we did from our guests, and that if you enjoy the show you’ll share it with a friend or colleague who might benefit as well.
Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts so you neve miss an episode. And for more conversations with incredible design leaders delivered right to your inbox, be sure to subscribe to the new Design Better newsletter here.
by Eli Woolery
Eli is the Director of Design Education at InVision. His design career spans both physical and digital products, and he is a lecturer in the Product Design program at Stanford University. You can find Eli on Medium or on Twitter.
As the VP of Design Education at InVision, Aarron Walter draws upon 15 years of experience running product teams and teaching design to help companies enact design best practices. Aarron founded the UX practice at MailChimp and helped grow the product from a few thousand users to more than 10 million. His design guidance has helped the White House, the US Department of State, and dozens of major corporations, startups and venture capitalist firms. He is the author of the best selling book Designing for Emotion from A Book Apart. You'll find @aarron on Twitter sharing thoughts on design. Learn more at http://aarronwalter.com.