The animation thing struck a chord. I see so many wonderful, beautiful, amazing animations of awesome-sauce UI that has all these crazy shadows, gradients, fluid movements, etc... and all I ever think is, "that's cool and I can see how it's done in after effects, but have you ever built anything in code before"?
Yeah I'm running into the same issue right now. I'm self teaching myself UX motion and animation, and I'm quickly learning that most of this stuff is not realistic/feasible. There's a huge opportunity for someone to build a tool that bridges the gap between motion designers and developers. So far, Lottie and Inspector Spacetime are on the right track but it still falls short in some aspects.
the bit about Facebook cracked me up! I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one out there that feels the same way....
I was most nervous about that one for the same reason.
The comparison to designing for Lucky Strike was inspired. Bravo.
Loved the piece about animations. Unless you work for a large well-funded company, rarely will your animations be implemented by devs.
I’ll never stop loving watching animations. But if I’m overseeing design team resources, animation just ain’t making the cut.
Maybe just need the right animations...
I can’t think of a single successful software that uses animation in any meaningful way. I’m genuinely curious if I’m missing something. Google introduced some minor tweens in Material Design, iOS has them, but nothing else comes to mind, particularly in the realm of SaaS.
Animations are a part of almost every major software now. Google has entire teams of motion designers. I struggle to think of well-designed software that doesn't have meaningful animation these days. Let's not forget every video game from the last 30 years too.
I mean...I just said Google was the one exception I could think of and they’re arguably not a software company. Video games are so far outside the context of what I was talking about because, again, not software companies.
How are they not software companies? It's not just Google. Pick up almost any household-name software - Amazon, Spotify, Twitter, Facebook, Insta, Snapchat, Slack, Microsoft Office, Wikipedia… there's motion in all of them.
Of all those, the only software companies you mentioned are Slack and MS Office. The disnction is that if you don’t pay somebody to use their software, then they aren’t a software company. I’m not trying to be nitpicky but the distinction matters (and that’s probably something I should expound in at some point).
Also it’s worth noting my other response in this thread that I didn’t adequately separate motion from animation, which I should have. I’m talking more abt larger animations, the likes of which pollute dribbble and cause my laptop to get hotter than the sun.
I'm assuming you are separating "motion" from "animation" because I do believe motion is often essential for many interactions, particularly when so much of our visual space as humans is primarily tuned to recognize motion over aesthetics.
Yes that’s a great distinction I should’ve made. I’m talking grander animations rather than motions. Good point.
what about pair designing
Nice call. I have actually never done that so it didn't even occur to me.
Xtreme design we call it. Didn’t realise it was a thing beyond my small team. It rules.
Pairing for designers is an amazing tactic, but not without pitfalls. It's super good for generating ideas together and talking through design decisions in the moment, as well as course-correcting if someone is getting off track. It's great for relinquishing the silos us designers usually fall into. I do think there is a time and place for it though, not always. Too much and you might end up not pushing the boundaries as much as you would have had you separated and then paired after for feedback. Ie. Can't have too much of a good thing. But overall, I like it, it's great. We have product designers at our company who lead features and then will pair occasionally with other designers when a design jam is needed.
Interesting. I suppose I’ve done this inadvertently from time to time; definitely in situations like you’ve described.
Design systems are useful for keeping track of anything you use more than once like typography, colors, icons, illustration / image styles, grids, and logos. They can can be simple or complex.
I think he confused design sprints with sprint weeks. Design sprints are infrequent and used for exploration or putting out fires. Sprint weeks are pretty standard and help break up design work into predictable deliverables.
Mixed-remote teams work fine if you have a proper design manager.
A (UX) design manager handles stuff like the design system, sprints, team development, road mapping, best practices, and the (far too) many high level meetings.
Animations (or any advanced design work): you don't need it until a competitor launches it brilliantly.
I’m not sure what the purpose is of these clarifications but I can say that in regards to your comment on sprint week vs. design sprint, it’s probably more accurate to say I invented the “sprint week” term since it doesn’t actually appear in GV’s original definition (which was what I was referring to): https://www.gv.com/sprint/
Spront weeks are by no means standard. Unless you are conflating it with the “sprint” that’s derived from agile methodology to refer to a unit of time; not anything that inherently pertains to design.
As for mixed remote teams working with a good manager, I believe that behind every manager who manages a remote team is a manager who wish their team wasn’t remote. It’s a huge pain in the ass.
"Mixed remote teams are the worst."
very true, it's all or nothing when it comes to remote teams. mixed remote tends to make those not in the office feel like peripheral members.
Any thoughts on entire teams that are (variably) partially remote and partially in-office?
I'm currently in a (mostly) 4 day remote, 1 day in office team, and one person relocated so they are fully remote and it makes things difficult since there was a system that allowed some face time and some grind time.
So much is lost in Slack / chat in terms of tone and personality, I just wonder what it's like for teams that primarily communicate this way and their relationships.
I have the same curiosity. I talk to people who genuinely love it so I’m sure I’m wrong in making a uniform criticism. But my feeling is that teams need a contingent in locations otherwise it’s lonely and inefficient. Those working remote lose so much from being near others; and often they don’t even know what they’re missing.
It’s funny to me that on one side we hear so much about the importance of geography in how it breeds innovation in ecosystems like SV and now Austin. So if that’s true then how can remote teams be better than co-located?
This is a beautiful piece of writing, love it. More realism please.
Thanks! It’s hard to strike a balance between giving us designers some tough love and being too snarky.
A Design System won't matter too much if you're working for an agency or on a product that is being built by a small team, but Design Systems are key for products that are being built by large organisations. A large organisation will have multiple concurrent feature projects, with no Design System in place these features will introduce new Components and these Components will be engineered, as time goes by the front-end code will be a jumble of duplicate Components and feature development becomes slower and slower. Then one day some clever front-end engineer comes along and decides to refactor the front-end code base, this endeavour takes a full month and development grinds to a halt. This could've been prevented if the organisation had a Design System that was shared by Design and Engineering. Designers who work in large organisation should have a mindset were they consider the feature they work on and the product as a whole – the Design System should be a forcing mechanism to ensure that designers never forget that they're working on not only a feature, but also on a larger system.
I think that in terms of the total number of companies, there are more smaller teams teams than larger teams. Meanwhile, large teams have the resources to dominate the discourse on design systems. My point was set against that backdrop. Not an attack on their overal utility but pointing out that, if you happen to be one of the other thousands of designers not working at large enterprises, it’s reasonable to question the value of a system.
Definitely, the Design System is a means to an end. I think you're right that large companies have a louder voice in the community and if small scrappy teams starts copying e.g. AirBnb's way of working it will definitely lead in overhead and longer time-to-market.
Not sure I agree with the animation part.
Animation can be a very easy way to communicate an idea especially now that most of the prototyping tools are either too diffficult to use or simply inadequate.
Then again even the over-the-top animations that you see on Dribbble can be good for conception even if they’ll never get built. As designers we should think free and wild.
Eventually some of these wild concepts become the norm.
I completely agree with you about designers being free to experiment with animation. You’re right that it certainly has its place.
I can't quite tell if this is suppose to be sarcastic or if the author is just having a really bad day.
Both! It's mainly an abridged collections of my criticisms of popular things. Like I said in the article, I have done or do almost all those things (except working at Facebook). It was just a critical/humorous take on things we sometimes get a little too carried away with.
I was beginning to think that I was the one out of the loop and that all these things seem really awesome but I have never really seen used in a practical sense. They all seem like things people do to make design amazing but in reality, there are a lot of things that get in the way and these dreams are hardly ever reality.