What Those 5 Experts Tell You About DesignOps

We analyzed the strategies and processes from five industry experts. This article summarizes the knowledge these DesignOps trailblazers share through blog posts, interviews, webinars, and talks.

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Dave Malouf – Director of Design Operations at Teladoc Health

Dave Malouf is a veteran DesignOps expert who’s been around since the early days of design operations–according to Superside, Dave coined the phrase DesignOps.

In his famous DesignX Community talk, Amplifying Design Value (also published on his Medium account), Dave outlines ways Ops can increase Design’s value within the organization through:

  • Form giving: How form creates value–line, layout, composition, color, type, texture, volume, negative space, juxtaposition, alignment, flow
  • Clarity: From information architecture that enables users to use a digital product
  • Behavioral fit: How design provides an intuitive user experience that streamlines or compliments a real-world activity
  • Exploration: How designers discover possibilities through sketching and trying ideas

In an interview with Superside, Dave lists the key challenges DesignOps must solve:

  • Improving the craft, methods, and process
  • Finding the best tooling
  • Hiring the best team
  • Managing the best team
  • Setting up proper communication channels
  • How to reward team members for doing great work
  • Developing collaborative processes with cross-functional stakeholders
  • Asset management workflow
  • Delivery processes
  • Designing best practices
  • Design governance and policies

Learn more about Dave’s approach to DesignOps through a 1-hour webinar he did with UXPin titled: Holistic Design Operations.

Patrizia Bertini – Associate Director of Design Operations at Babylon Health

Patrizia Bertini is Associate Director of Design Operations at Babylon Health. In December 2021, Patrizia did a webinar with UXPin where she gave a high-level strategy for Measuring DesignOps’ Impact.

Patrizia says DesignOps Leaders must measure their impact because “DesignOps is supposed to relieve design-related inefficiencies to create more productive designers.”

To measure DesignOps, you must define the problem, recognizing the difference between efficacy and efficiency.

  • Efficacy: Produces qualitative results by measuring behavior and the way people do work
  • Efficiency: Produces quantifiable data to measure performance and changes

Patrizia uses a three-step process for identifying areas for improvement:

  1. Identify your users and define the problem. Patrizia segments these users into Business, Design Leader, and Design Team. When you identify a problem, you must assess how it impacts all three user segments.
  2. Define the dimensions that matter measured in quality, cost, and time. What can you do to impact efficiencies and improve performance?
  • Lastly, you “play impact”–a process of evaluating the problem with quantifiable and qualitative data to understand the scale of the issue and determine the best course of action.

Watch Patrizia’s hour-long webinar Measuring DesignOps’ Impact or our summary article, ROI of DesignOps: All You Need to Know About Quantifying DesignOps’ Impact.

Erica is another veteran UX designer with extensive experience and an impressive resume from some of the world’s largest tech companies. She currently works for PayPal in a DesignOps role.

Erica is responsible for PayPal’s DesignOps 2.0, which used UXPin Merge as the foundation to scale and optimize the company’s internal product design. With five UX designers, over a thousand developers, and more than 60 products, PayPal could ship new products 8X faster using Merge without employing more team members.

With UXPin Merge, PayPal’s product teams took over designing, prototyping, testing, and delivering new products–freeing the small team of UX designers to focus on high-level user experience initiatives.

Watch Erica’s one-hour webinar, Scale design efficiently with DesignOps2.0, or read How PayPal Scaled Their Design Process with UXPin Merge for more.

Rachel Posman – Senior Director, Design Operations at Salesforce

Rachel has worked in design for almost a decade at several enterprise organizations, including Capital One, Uber, and Salesforce–in DesignOps and ResearchOps positions.

Rachel wrote chapter 2 of DesignOps 101: Guide to Design Operations, where she talks about the importance of DesignOps. 

“Design operations exists to help mitigate challenges that design teams face:

  • Increasing volume of work and demand on the time of design teams
  • Working in isolation or having siloed workflows or procedures
  • Missing design tools that could help design teams work smarter
  • Misunderstanding from not being part of the initial strategy that goes into a project
  • Push for speed and efficiency to create quickly”

In Postcards from the Future (of DesignOps), Rachel reveals her strategy for envisioning “future contexts and scenarios for current products and services.”

Rachel divides the future into four segments based on a cone from Future Today Institute:

  • Tactical: 12-24 months
  • Strategic planning: 2-5 years
  • Vision: 5-10 years
  • Systems-level disruption and evolution: 10+ years

By talking about and envisioning the future, Rachel and her team found they could develop strategies to create their future worlds.

Check out Postcards from the Future (of DesignOps) for a step-by-step guide to implementing Rachel’s planning strategy.

You can also get valuable insights from Rachel and six other DesignOps experts in our free ebook, DesignOps 101: Guide to Design Operations.

Salomé Mortazavi – Director of DesignOps at SiriusXM 

Salomé has spent many years consulting for several Fortune 500 companies helping to transform their software development practices. She currently works as Director of DesignOps at SiriusXM.

Salomé uses a practices-first DesignOps approach–the methods and frameworks used to achieve outcomes. Salomé notes that processes follow practices, so optimizing the former often creates more inefficiencies.

Salomé defines four key skills of a practices-first DesignOps leader:

  • Be comfortable with ambiguity: Don’t try to control everything; embrace problem-solving and the process of finding the best solutions.
  • Research & Service Design skills: Leverage research and Service Design tools to visualize the entire ecosystem’s challenges. 
  • Strong Design and Product practices background: A DesignOps leader must have hands-on product experience to communicate effectively with team members. This experience also helps identify and diagnose problems easier.
  • Program management skills: Knowing how to evolve and scale solutions is vital for long-term success. Building feedback loops help Ops learn and iterate to improve and optimize solutions.

Read more about Salomé’s practices-first approach in this Medium post. You could also watch Salomé at UXPin’s Design Value Conference.

Learn from Other DesignOps Experts at Upcoming Webinars!

Join our free webinar next week. Another great Design Operations leader, Amber Jabeen, will tell you how you can build the case and collaborate with other teams on building a design system for enterprise-level organizations. Check it out: Enterprise Design System – How to Build and Scale.

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