I was immediately drawn to Buildkite because of the opportunity it presented. A profitable and well-loved product, but one that hadn't seen much involvement from designers until very recently. It's a familiar story, in order to scale and innovate — the tools, practices and cultural understanding of Design had to be established.
As Design Lead I've had the opportunity to affect that change at a foundational level — from the bottom up — by introducing the tools and remote-first processes that enable progress. I aim to demonstrate good practice by serving as an example, by coaching and writing, by being an unblocking function to teams and by establishing effective customer-first practices. I’m a friendly face in design.
I have also been hands-on designing high-impact work, with a primary focus on evolving the visual language and setting UX standards that will scale. I've also taken the opportunity to pursue my own personal agenda — to create a more human-first and inclusive product — something that is at odds with the 'tech standard'.
Setting a visual standard for our complex product suite
How it's Going
Here are some of the landmark achievements in my inaugural year — implemented in parallel to the company tripling in size. I'm proud of what I've done, not least because the domain is so technically challenging!
I'm an advocate for design, working across all teams to ensure we are creative, collaborative and customer-obsessed in our approach.
Established collaborative design practices — both within product and the wider design org — to encourage creativity and consistency of output. Including the habit of regularly sharing work in progress and involving engineers early — a practice now used by all designers and contractors
Created the visual structures and processes of a well-documented design system, integrated design as a part of the frontend working group and worked with front end engineers to implement the foundational elements of a Buildkite Design System
Undertaken research to better understand our customers and product strategy — resulting in terminology, which has been widely adopted across the business and a standard we hold all feature development to
Set up regular coaching with designers, PMs and Leadership — with the intention of elevating craft, supporting people through a challenging period of company growth and furthering career paths
Created the first design-specific Career Growth Framework for the business, which both helps elevate the current team, but also sets a industry-standard foundation for future hires
Built relations across Product, Leadership, Sales and Customer teams to better understand cross-functional work and to influence design thinking outside of the feature teams — such as how/when to involve customers, how to research and process feedback and seeing design as an enabler not a blocker
Affected design strategy across teams by advocating for human-centered design practices — such as challenging visual density and embracing simplicity — strategies that have been particularly instrumental in the upcoming pipeline of work
I strive to lead by example and aim to set a high bar of creative excellence. In that capacity I've been working cross-functionally to encourage consistency, customer-focus and the confidence to pursue unique and defensible design decisions to set us apart.
Set the visual standard for the future of the product — from colours, typography and iconography, to the high-level principles and documentation. A full-app redesign in small and measurable increments
Designed and implemented the first visual refresh of the core product in recent memory — using the project as a baseline for accessibility and a step towards visual consistency across the app. Read the blog post
Created a new navigation structure, colour system and custom iconography used across the entire suite of products. Including the creation, documentation and maintenance of the design system, BKUI
Worked with Marketing and Brand to elevate the visual tone of the product through a new illustrative style in 2023 — setting the foundations for a visually unique product
Worked closely with Foundations and Sales teams to produce usage reporting tooling — which has already seen great reception from customers
Designed various features and "North star" products to set an appetite for future work — such as a collaborative tools announced by the CEO at the 2022 Unblock Conference — a lot of which has gone into the roadmap, or has already been shipped
"You've had SO MUCH impact on the design culture at Buildkite, it feels like we are a proper team now. And you've influenced processes so that design actually feels like a proper thing we do in Product" — Designer
Above: Before/after accessibility improvements and a navigation refresh
I draw professional satisfaction from enabling creative success — by providing the tools and services to help individuals and teams produce effective design solutions. I look for opportunities to affect long-lasting impact on a company... consider this a work in progress.