We should all be designers


Hi, I'm Milly!

UX-er, building a Lean SaaS product, front-end engineer, writer, teacher

Preaching to the choir

For people who aren't designers

But also for designers



UX is awesome

Organisational dysfunction is not awesome

Can we apply UX to a team?

Can we apply UX to a codebase?

Can I UX my life?

What do UX designers do?

UI design? Well obviously not, it's more like...

User research and testing? Well, yes and...

Business consulting? Sometimes...

Business model validation? Well, yes...

Project and product management? Yeah, I guess that too...

Engineering feasibility  and prototyping? Mm, yep...

Competitor analysis and research? Yup...

Service design? Yes, essentially...

What does it actually mean to be a designer?

Led by purpose

Human centred

Tests and validates assumptions

Explodes and synthesises

Defines scope and constraints

  • Led by purpose

  • Human centred

  • Tests and validates assumptions

  • Defines scope and constraints

  • Explodes and synthesises

Can we solve a team dysfunction with UX?

The dev team are getting a lot of criticism for apparently not delivering things people want

Think like a designer

User research (talk to your team)

"Tell me about the last time you..."

It feels like nobody understands the work we are doing is important

I'm not sure what the engineering team are doing that's more important than what I'm asking for

I don't really understand code stuff

I can't really tell how busy the team is because they're so quiet
I don't know how to explain the value of the work I do to non-technical people

Synthesise (facilitate, don't dictate)

Define problems and scope


Key result

Key result

Objective (qualitative)

Key result (quantitative)

Key result (quantitative)

Less criticism of the dev team

People no longer come into our area yelling or crying

Engineers report more satisfaction and happiness

Run experiments to test possible solutions

Try writing and sending out detailed release notes with happy gifs for a month

Change the team name to the product team to show that it's more than just "dev"

Can we design a better codebase?

Talk to the users

I don't know what this code from a long time ago does
I can't find things in the folder structure so I just search the entire project for keywords

There's a lot of duplication so doing any task takes a long time

There are so many different code styles going on, it's hard to know what is the way to do anything
The Sass files are really long, so when there's an error, I have to comb through the whole file to find one misplaced semicolon

Synthesise and refine


  • Visibility of system status 
  • Match between system and the real world 
  • User control and freedom 
  • Consistency and standards 
  • Error prevention 
  • Recognition rather than recall 
  • Flexibility and efficiency of use 
  • Aesthetic and minimalist design 
  • Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors 
  • Help and documentation

Design solutions

Prototype, test and measure

Write a blog post to encourage more users to sign up

Interview users

Read support chat logs

Generate many ideas quickly and then cut down and refine

Test solutions with users or potential users

Adjust and iterate

I want to live a better life

We believe everyone has the capacity to be creative.

Stanford d school

Imaginary Lives
The Personal Job Ad
Radical Sabbaticals

I want to grow edible plants but the conditions aren't very good

Design thinking means...

We validate early (so we save money)

We don't just go with the HiPPO

We challenge assumptions and the status quo

We help people solve their own problems

We know that slow is smooth... and smooth is fast

We bring everything back to the bigger goal

We actively listen and approach problems humbly

So what's stopping you?

Thank you

We should all be designers

By Amelia Schmidt

We should all be designers

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