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UX Department Workflow

Meet The UX Department

Our UX department is made up of designers and researchers from all around the world. Each of them brings their own unique cultures, experiences, and strengths to GitLab. You can learn about each member of UX by visiting our team page.

UX Weekly Call

The UX Department gets together once a week to share and discuss a variety of topics including workflow shortcuts or processes, designs for feedback, UX articles, and conferences. Attendance is optional but participation is encouraged. Each call is recorded and added to the archive.

Product development timeline

The product development timeline that the UX department follows is described in the engineering workflow section of the handbook.

Working with PMs

Every Product Designer is aligned with a PM. The UXer is responsible for the same features their PM oversees. The Product Designer meets with their PMs and other engineers every month to discuss scheduling and prioritization. Once the milestone has been set, the UXer assigns themselves to the issues in their area that need UX. UXers should immediately engage in and facilitate a conversation with the PM and engineers involved with the issue. Communicate early and often.

Understanding which PM is responsible for which area of the product is essential. An excellent resource for this is the Product stages, groups, and categories section of the handbook. The Product section of the handbook will give you a deep dive into how Product at GitLab thinks and works.

Milestone Planning

Product Designers meet with their PMs and other Engineering managers to discuss the priorities for the upcoming milestone. The purpose of this is to ensure that all understand the requirements and to assess whether or not there is the capacity to complete all the issues proposed. While we follow the product development timeline, it is recommended that you work with your PM and Engineering counterparts to discuss upcoming issues in your stages' roadmap prior to them being marked as a deliverable for a particular milestone. There will be occasions where priorities shift, and changes must be made to milestone deliverables. We should remain flexible and understanding of these situations while doing our best to make sure these exceptions do not become the rule.

Milestone Kickoff

Before working on the next release, we have a company kickoff call to explain what we expect to ship in the next release. This call is led by the product team and highlights significant improvements and features.

The UX Department is currently investigating a way to perform a UX Team kickoff asynchronously. Kickoff has been postponed until we find a viable solution.

Community Contributions

We want to make it as easy as possible for GitLab users to become GitLab contributors. The UX team should offer support, guidance, and resources to any community member interested in contributing code and/or UX improvements.

Issues for which we accept contributions from community contributors are labeled as Accepting merge requests. We want to encourage our community to contribute at any stage of an issue we are interested in. If an Accepting merge requests issue has an additional UX ready label, this issue points to changes that:

As a member of the UX Department, make sure to alert the UX Manager if you are asked to work on one of the issues but don’t have the capacity. The UX manager is responsible for encouraging the community member to suggest a solution, share a design proposal, and keep the conversation going.

For full details on contributing in general, see the contributing doc.

Product Designer Workflow

Once assigned to an issue, there is general workflow Product Designers follow.

Read about Product Designer workflows

UX Research Workflow

There is a general workflow UX Researchers follow.

Read about UX Researcher workflows

How we use labels

GitLab uses labels to categorize, prioritize, and track work. The following is a breakdown of the labels most directly related to the UX workflow. An overview of all the label types and uses can be found in the contributing doc.

While labels are extremely useful for organizing and tracking our work, they are not meant to replace the expertise and judgement of team members, or to replace collaborative touchpoints between PM, UX, and Engineering. Do not rely on labels to communicate important information about an issue (for example, to hand off an issue to a developer). Designers, partnering with PMs and EMs, should determine the best approach for any given problem, and label issues accordingly.

Milestone Retro

After each release, we have a company retrospective call in which we discuss what went well, what went wrong, and what we can improve for the next release.

To understand the specific challenges faced by the UX Department, we hold an async UX retrospective after every milestone. This retro is carried out through a new Issue created for the recent release in the ux-retrospectives project. The goal is to evaluate what went well, what didn’t go well, and how we can improve.

Epics and issues

We use epics and issues to organize, discuss, and execute our day-to-day work. Epics are used to define a larger vision and goal for a feature or area of the product. Issues within the epic drive the actions taken to achieve the desired results. In most cases, PM and the UX Manager are utilizing epics to plan and execute efforts over several milestones.

UX Showcase

After every UX Showcase we edit the video into separate clips for each presentation. UX Managers take turn doing this. Here are the steps:

  1. Locate the video in Google Drive and download to your computer.
  2. Use a video editor like iMovie to make clips of each presentation.
  3. Name the videos with "UX Showcase" + the title of the presentation.
  4. Check with presenters to make sure the video is appropriate for the public (no customer names).
  5. Upload the videos to YouTube Unfiltered. Add the videos to the UX Showcase playlist and UX Team playlist.
    • Set the visibility to Public.
  6. Share links to the videos to Slack channels #ux and #product, and to the Engineering Week in Review doc.


User Experience professional development

The field of User Experience is always changing and evolving. We want Product Designers, UX Researchers, and Technical Writers to have opportunities to stay current on trends and further develop and refine their skills as part of a well-rounded career development plan. To that end, we support participation in relevant and valuable training and conferences, per GitLab's policies.

Your manager will work with the UX Director to communicate and approve requests for professional development.

To attend training or a conference, follow these procedures:

  1. Familiarize yourself with GitLab's policies on professional development expenses and budget applications.
  2. Talk to your manager about the event you are interested in. Estimate the attendance and travel costs before this conversation. Your manager can give guidance as to how likely your proposal is to be approved.
  3. Create a proposal (even for events under $500). This is the template.
  4. Name your proposal something that makes it easy to identify and save it to this folder.
  5. Send your manager a link to your proposal.
  6. If the cost exceeds $500, your manager will communicate with the UX Director and Finance department as needed, to obtain the approval you need.
    1. NOTE: If your conference exceeds the max budget, you will need to wait until the following year to be reimbursed for additional conferences. If it does not exceed the max budget, please follow this process again and work with your manager for approval.
  7. Don't book your ticket or travel until you have approval.

Helpful information