Which are the main pillars of DesignOps?


Design can be a competitive advantage. To deliver great experiences, product teams need to get the design right. Therefore, teams constantly search for ways to streamline the design process to achieve a common goal, like reducing bounce rate or increasing conversions.

So what is DesignOps?

“DesignOps function helps amplify design and enable cross-functional product teams. They take care of the tools and systems so that Product Designers can achieve greater efficiency and collaboration.”

4 main pillars of DesignOps


Pillar 1: Design Process

Design Process pays careful attention to how things are organized and processed. From discovery to review to handoff, the entire design process is evaluated, optimized, and tweaked to remove as much friction as possible. DesignOps teams have a goal to streamline workflows. When a DesignOps department starts to re-work the process, they usually do the following things:

  • Identify the critical gaps and weaknesses of an existing process.

  • Build a strategy that would optimize designers’ day-to-day workflow — maximize engagement and reduce duplicated efforts.

  • Define clear metrics of success and ensure designers align with them. Metrics are decided according to the business’s goals.

  • Unify design language across platforms. Unified language helps designers achieve consistency across all platforms.

  • Reduce the total number of meetings by trimming all unnecessary meetings and making those that remain more productive (i.e., introduce a mandatory requirement for clear agendas before meetings and action items after the session).

Pillar 2: Design Workflows

Having a “DesignOps mindset” in your team is important, no matter how big your company is. It creates efficiencies in the long run, and generates more consistent work.

Pillar 3: Design Tools

Managing the tools to ensure we have what’s required to get the job done. DesignOps also keep new devices entering the market and ensures that new designers are seamlessly onboarded using these tools.

Design Tools are the systems and services that enhance speed and quality of execution, and the mission is to remove doubt in design.

DesignOps also determine what tools design teams need to work efficiently. They standardize the tooling and systems used and introduce new tools and make sure designers adopt them. It focuses on communication tools, collaboration, reviews, and feedback mechanisms to facilitate learning, inform decision-making, and drive better team efficiencies. Many dynamic and evolving cloud-based collaboration tools amplify a designer’s impact by removing friction points between design and collaborators in engineering.

Tools that could be useful:

  • Theo — Theo transforms and formats Design Tokens. Theo can consume centralized Design Tokens and output files for each platform.

  • Figma — Design tool with built-in cross-team design systems which can export to SVG and CSS.P.S. Here you can see our PWA app designs in Figma under an Open Source license.

  • Zeplin — Collaboration Tool between Designers and Developers

  • InVision Design System Manager (DSM) — Invision bought Brand to build a complex Design System Tool.

  • Sympli is an enterprise-grade, integrated collaboration and workflow platform for building digital products.

Pillar 4: Design Culture

This pillar is all about creating the best working environment for our team and ensuring they’re set up for success.

Culture is how it feels for a designer to work in your organization. A meaningful culture empowers employees with a clear understanding of how their contributions enable the overall purpose and gives them the autonomy and agency to contribute in a manner authorized by process, tools, and structure.

DesignOps focuses specifically on enabling designers to accomplish the most meaningful work possible, bolstering creativity and overall impact. Of course, every organization’s design team will have a unique blend of goals and maturity levels. It takes careful orchestration throughout the organization to allow the design to become a part of the working fabric of day-to-day operations.

Design culture is a critical element that keeps design teams happy and healthy.  That’s why DesignOps teams have goals to invest in creating a design culture and promoting the culture within a company. The process of building a design culture includes the following areas:

  • Education: DesignOps figure out what skills are missing in a design team and how to gain them. They are also responsible for onboarding new team members.

  • Retention: DesignOps protect designer resources from turnover by creating an environment where people want to stay for extended periods.

  • Accountability: They are responsible for holding the designer accountable.

  • Knowledge sharing: They create a culture where team members share their knowledge generously with others.