Blog Engineering A deep dive into GitLab's UX design process
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

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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