Product Designers are responsible for work assignments in their stage group and at the UX department level. These include supporting community contributions to their stage group, contributing to the Pajamas Design System, reviewing other designers work, and more (see Priorities). Product Designers are responsible for working with their stage peers and managers, as needed, to manage their capacity and complete their work on target and on time. Here are some guidelines to help Product Designers manage their work:
Product Design Managers
You're encouraged to prioritize your work in the following order, but the actual prioritization depends on various aspects, such as your stage group's workflow.
#ux-coworkingSlack channel, or elsewhere. See related sections Design Reviews and Investigate possible dependencies.
workflow::solution validation, or
Accepting merge requests
Issue weights are optional, but weighting issues can be useful for planning. They enable Product Designers to understand their capacity, evaluate impact of time off, facilitate trade-off conversations with Product Managers, and help the Product Design Manager identify teams that need more UX support.
When weighting issues, we aim for velocity over predictibility. This means that we don't need to be accurate at first, we just need to get better. This paragraph has a useful explanation of estimation at GitLab.
Milestone Capacity Template:
- Total weights completed last milestone: 10
- Average capacity (average of weights completed last 3 months): 10
- Estimated capacity for current milestone: 7 (use your average capacity and subtract planned time off)
- Total current weights: 10
|Weight||Design Tasks||User Research Tasks|
|1||Mostly small UI changes leading to small incremental UX improvements. No users’ workflow involved in these changes. Requirements are clear and there are no unanswered questions. For example: A copy experiment or changing a button styling.||Synthesizing previous research findings and generating recommendations based on them.|
|2||Simple UI or UX change where we understand all of the requirements but may need to find solutions to known questions/problems. These changes should blend in with an actual user workflow. For example: Simplify Sign in / Register process the in trial flow.||Running a first click test or other type of unmoderated research study|
|3||A well-understood change but the scope of work is bigger. Several pages are involved and/or we're starting to design/redesign small flows or connect existing flows between each other. Designers may conduct extensive background research (previous issues, support tickets, review past user research, review analytics, etc). Some unknown questions may arise during the work. For example: Update the CustomersDot checkout page to allow subscription and billing information input, Experiment with adding a contact sales option in app.||A moderated, narrowly scoped research study with specific questions to answer, such as a usability review of a single page|
|5||A complex change where input from group members is needed as early as possible. Spans across multiple pages, and we're working on medium-sized flows that potentially connect with another area of the product There are significant open questions that need to be answered. The product designer may need to do some research on their own or in collaboration with a researcher, but this isn't always the case. Possible research activities might be to find and/or validate a Job To Be Done, conduct user testing or card-sorting, or do a survey. For example: UX Scorecard, How can we improve the dismiss action in upgrade moments.||A research study evaluating the usability of an end-to-end flow or multiple related features, or a usability study with a minor exploratory component|
|8||Complicated changes introducing a new user flow that connects with other large flows and may require input from other designers, product managers, or engineers from the same or another stage group. This is the largest flow design/redesign that we would take on in a single milestone. This requires research where the designer may or may not be working with a researcher to plan and conduct exploratory interviews or user testing sessions. For example: Onboard new signs up through an onboarding issue board.||An exploratory study investigating broad-based behaviors related to a single stage, including one or more distinct user groups|
|13||Highly significant changes impacting multiple user flows, a large new feature, and/or a complete redesign. This issue could significantly impact product strategy and would require critical input from others (the wider GitLab community, e-group, customers), and there are many unknowns. This necessitates research where the designer could team up with a researcher and other designers to gather input data, plan and conduct exploratory interviews, lead user testing sessions… It's unlikely we would commit to complete this issue in a milestone, and the preference would be to further clarify requirements and/or break it into smaller issues planned in several milestones. For example: An improved free trial sign-up experience for GitLab.com SaaS users.||An exploratory study investigating broad-based behaviors across multiple stages and multiple types of users, potentially involving team members from the different stages.|
This section provides an overview of how we work with issues. But it's very important for you to communicate with your PM and EMs early and often about how you should work together. Many teams have different flavors of this process as they have adapted to the needs of that product and that team.
Every Product Designer at GitLab is empowered to triage issues with "~UX", "~UX debt" and "~UI polish" labels, or should be included for feedback by the responsible PM and EM instead. Use Priority labels to propose the time in which the issue should be solved and Severity labels to communicate its impact on users. Always work to align and communicate with your PM and EMs on the labels assigned.
All issues in a milestone labeled
Deliverable that need UX will be assigned to a Product Designer by the kickoff. Issues labeled
Stretch may or may not be assigned to a Product Designer by the kickoff. Learn more about how we use Workflow labels in the GitLab Docs.
Part of the role of product designers is to lead and facilitate idea generation within our teams. We are all very busy working with PMs to drive forward our product roadmaps and solve known UX problems, but remember there are also undiscovered problems out there that are definitely worth solving. Here are a few activities and resources to inspire you!
It is our responsibility as Product Designers to research how our work can impact other parts of the product and the work that other Product Designers are doing.
Iterative design at GitLab combines the two industry-standard definitions of "incremental design" and "design iteration." Put simply, iterative design is the process of breaking down design solutions into the smallest change possible that improves the user's outcome. It's getting things quickly into the product to get feedback early and guide refinement.
When applying iterative design, you should consider the longer-term strategy or vision and work with your Product Manager to plan successive releases until it's realized.
Think big, ship small, move fast with iteration
"Our relationship with uncertainty: When we conduct research and design we have some level of certainty about how effective it’s going to be, but it isn’t until we ship it and get it in the hands of many users that we truly understand how effective the thing is that we designed."
A new designer's take on iteration
"Breaking things down creates psychological safety for me as a designer."
Sharing work and gathering feedback can happen at any time within the design process. We do this most frequently by sharing mocks and having open discussions in issues.
Design Reviews are a dedicated space for Product Designers to give and receive specific and sometimes in-depth feedback on ideas and possible solutions. Other benefits include:
We default to asynchronous design reviews so everyone can participate. Asynchronous Design Reviews are very similiar to their synchronous equivalent: designers share their work and provide context so their peers can offer valuable and constructive feedback. Product Design Managers are encouraged to coordinate Design Reviews on a regular candence with their teams.
In practice, this is what it means for designers:
#ux-coworkingSlack channel. Be sure to provide a link to the item requiring review as well as a link to the location where feedback should be left. Capturing feedback in issues will ensure you can refer back to it later, whereas Slack messages will eventually disappear.
Any additions or changes to UI text require review by the group's Technical Writer, though you may have already discussed plans and ideas during the Product Design phase. This includes button or menu labels, error messages, user-assistance microcopy, and any other text that may be surfaced in the UI.
UX Researchers work closely with Product Managers and Product Designers to ensure research projects are focused and provide answers to design questions.
For iteration inspiration watch our Product Designers discuss iteration at GitLab.
@mentionyour Product Design Manager on the issue for feedback. Product Design Managers have a broader view of work that's happening across the product, enabling them to provide feedback that is helpful for maintaining strategic alignment, a consistent level of quality, and functional consistency.
|Co-designing within a shared file||√|
|Providing, or seeking feedback while a design is still in progress, and not ready for MVC||√|
|Seeking feedback on a design with a larger audience||√|
|When feedback directly impacts an issue||√|
|Presenting design options or variations so the team can choose a direction||√|
|Sharing a prototype||√|
|Adding a to-do for a designer as it relates to in-progress design||√|
|Adding a to-do for a designer as it relates to an issue||√|
|Identifying visual regressions||√|
|Detailed redlines or specs||√|
workflow::planning breakdownlabel and stay involved by walking PM and Engineering through the proposed solution and participating in the conversation to break down the issue.
workflow::schedulinglabel and mention the responsible product manager to schedule it. It is also the Product Designer's responsibility to communicate with the assigned engineer to ensure they understand the solution.
workflow::ready for developmentlabel.
UX debtlabel to indicate that the product doesn't meet UX requirements and will require immediate iteration.
Almost all merge requests (MRs) change the UX in one way or another, but we only require UX reviews for MRs that include user-facing changes. Per the approval guidelines), “user-facing changes include both visual changes (regardless of how minor), and changes to the rendered DOM which impact how a screen reader may announce the content.”
Product Designers should feel empowered to adapt the process to fit their situation, as long as they feel confident that UI changes are getting sufficient attention to avoid inflicting UX bugs or UX pain for customers. Some common scenarios include:
UX Debtper this section on UX labels.
For changes that affect Pajamas, such as introducing a new UI component, refining an existing component, or adding significant clarity to the usage of a component, you should take the following additional steps:
As design can be subjective, discussion can heat up. Sometimes team members won't agree on the best approach. Always try to be direct but kind. Try to give your best reasoning for your choices, and evaluate everyone's ideas and suggestions. Come up with a solution instead of discussing endlessly. If you think additional perspective is needed, mention a fellow Product Designer in the issue, or take it a step further and suggest that we perform some solution validation to let the data guide our design direction. Finally, remember that at GitLab we can disagree, commit, and disagree.