Blog Engineering A deep dive into GitLab's UX design process
Published on September 5, 2018
3 min read

A deep dive into GitLab's UX design process

The UX team shares how they communicate, plan, share, and tackle improvements one iteration at a time.


The UX team recently gathered to share how they collaborate in a fully remote environment. Our team of two UX researchers and nine UX designers spans eight countries and six time zones. In this webcast, they discussed UX research, community contributions, and hiring, making it an excellent resource in helping you learn more about GitLab design.

Watch the webcast

What we covered

The UX team generously provided insight into their workflow and projects. Below are a few of our favorite takeaways.


At GitLab, iteration means making the smallest thing possible and getting it out as quickly as possible, helping us reduce the cycle time and rapidly get feedback from users so that we can continue to improve quickly and efficiently. Planning too far ahead without getting real-world feedback can cause you to build something that doesn't meet user needs.

UX Research

The goal of UX research is to understand the needs and concerns of users, often by observing how they interact with a product or by gathering data through various methods. At GitLab, we often use survey research, feasibility testing, user interviews, and card sorting to understand our users. We discuss the results with product managers to help us prioritize feedback and determine the next steps to implement the findings.

GitLab Design System

One of the team's major initiatives last year was the GitLab Design System, which includes content guidelines, usability patterns, foundational styles, and reusable components. The team shifted its focus towards system thinking to create consistency throughout the product and predictability across experiences. The UXers have been working closely with our frontend team to implement our system iteratively.

Every designer writes usage guidelines during every milestone and picks at least one issue within the issue tracker to contribute to the project. The design system is open source, just like the rest of GitLab, so everyone is encouraged to question any of the decisions we've made or contribute by making things clearer or adding missing content.

How you can contribute to GitLab’s UX designs

As an open source company, we believe in transparency, so we share almost everything we do, including source files, artifacts, deliverables, case studies, UX research, and our findings. Being open source allows the community to learn from us, and for us to learn from the community. There are issues that have been labeled 'Accepting merge requests' and they need some UX work. Most of these are very small issues, making them the perfect starting point for first-time contributors. If you have an idea for a UX improvement, we encourage you to create an issue using the feature proposal template to describe the problem you're trying to solve and your proposed solution.

Our UX researchers encourage community contributions, so if you're interested in exploring a research question, you're welcome to create an issue using a search proposal template in the UX research project. If you’d like to help shape the future of GitLab, we’d love to invite you to join GitLab First Look.

The UX team is happy to chat with you about your contribution, and we'll try to get back to you as soon as we can.

Join us!

Our UX team is growing, and we'd love to work with you! We're currently looking for three UX designers with an interest in our products. So, whether that's the development side or the operations side, we have a lot going on, and we have something for everyone. We're recruiting for specific teams, including Release and Verify, Monitor, and Secure teams. If you're interested in working with our talented (and fun!) UX team, we encourage you to apply!

Cover image by Chris Barbalis, licensed under CC X.

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