As the Juju design team grew it was important to review our working process and to see if we could improve it to create a more agile working environment. The majority of employees at Canonical work distributed around the globe, for instance the Juju UI engineering team has employees from Tasmania to San Francisco. We also work on a product which is extremely technical and feedback is crucial to our velocity.
We identified the following aspects of our process which we wanted to improve:
I’ve always been interested in the concept of designing in the open. Benefits of the practice include being more transparent, faster and more efficient. They also give the design team more presence and visibility across the organisation. Kasia (Juju’s project manager) and I went back and forth on which products to use and eventually settled on GitHub (GH).
The Juju design team works in two week iterations and at the beginning of a new iteration we decided to set up a GH repo and trial the new process. We outlined the following rules to help us start:
As the iteration went on, feedback started rolling in from the engineering team without us requesting it. A few developers mentioned how cool it was to see how the design process unfolded. We also saw a lot of improvement in the Juju design team: it allowed us to collaborate more easily and it was much easier to keep track of what was happening.
At the end of the trial iteration, during our clinic day, we closed completed issues and uploaded the final assets to the “code” section of the repo, creating a single place for our files.
After the first successful iteration we decided to carry this on as a permanent part of our process. The full range of benefits of moving to GH are:
As a result of this change our designs are more accessible which allows developers and stakeholders to comment and collaborate with the design team aiding in our agile process. Below is an example thread where you can see how GH is used in the process. I shows how we designed the new contextual service block actions.
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