What’s a designer-to-developer ratio at your company? In an ideal scenario, it’s one to ten- — one designer for every ten developers. That way the design process can go smoothly, and the designers cover every stage of the design process with ease.
But what if there are over a thousand developers, but only a handful of designers? How do you solve this challenge? There are a couple of possible solutions here.
A. Go on a hiring spree to fill the gaps.
B. Train developers to get design skills.
C. Look for the ways to scale design.
PayPal’s design team for developer tools and platform experience found itself confronted with such a situation. We spoke with Erica Rider, who leads the user experience team at the organization. Her team was composed of a handful of designers to over a thousand developers. That’s a huge discrepancy, isn’t it?
They went over point A and B above but quickly ruled them out, as they knew they wouldn’t get the resources they needed to hire more designers, while training developers wouldn’t be productive.
The PayPal team decided to find tools and strategies to get the most of what they have. They chose UXPin with its Merge technology, and in effect, transformed their DesignOps process.
Here’s how they got the most of their resources using UXPin Merge.
Design system wasn’t enough to scale design
PayPal is a large organization. Erica’s team counts five people, including herself, who are responsible for between 60 to 100 products. To create a consistent user experience across all the things the company makes, the team needed an innovative approach to scaling design.
Traditionally, it is design systems and standards that keep products consistent and scalable. PayPal’s design team led by Erica realized that it would be inefficient for them to scale design that way. They didn’t have enough time and other resources to create documentation or provide necessary support.
Erica thought about teaching product people how to use design tools to scale design, but she ruled it out, as it would take too much time to do that. They needed to find a more effective way of handling things. ..
Traditional Design Process Was Impossible to Follow
Moreover, PayPal’s team we interviewed needed to innovate the way they approach design. In a traditional process of creating digital products, designers build vector-based mockups and hand them off to developers together with design specs.
Unfortunately, such a process would still require a lot of assistance from designers. PayPal’s design team was too small to answer every developer’s question to get design clarity and what the prototypes are supposed to do.
The traditional approach wouldn’t create communication flow between designers and engineers. There would still be some gaps left, such as questions about how components are supposed to work or what components are supposed to be there. And if that wasn’t enough, it would require the help of product team members with design. It was too much. There should be another way of solving that.
Introducing UXPin’s Merge Technology
PayPal’s Erica Rider had an idea of how to work this out. Before coming to PayPal she had a theory about scaling design effectively — it required including developers and product managers in the design process. She just didn’t know how to do that.
“Discovering Merge and UXPin opened the door to understanding how I could bridge the gap between design and development — and formed the catalyst to PayPal’s improved design process.”
UXPin and Merge could be a solution that would help PayPal scale design without needing to hire a large number of designers. It also could strengthen collaboration between design and development. Still, one of the most significant impacts could be increasing time to market.
How Does UXPin Merge Work at PayPal?
Since PayPal’s apps, services, and external systems use different technologies, the team picked Microsoft’s Fluent design system with UI controls for their internal tools development. They found them more enterprise-focused and better suited to designing internal UI.
The team put Microsoft’s Fluent design system into a Github repository from which the team can import the components into UXPin’s design editor. With UXPin Merge technology set up like that, product teams can design prototypes with the exact components and UI controls that PayPal’s developers use to develop internal products.
“For example, a button on the canvas in UXPin’s editor renders exactly the same as it does in our developer tools, including hover/click effects, font styles, and other metrics. Designing with UXPin Merge brings significantly higher fidelity to our prototypes than we’ve ever had at PayPal.”
Merge Helps PayPal Design Almost 8 Times Faster
PayPal’s team expected that UXPin’s Merge technology would allow them to save heaps of time right at the initial rollout. They even got asked by the senior management to do a time-saving comparison between using UXPin’s Merge technology and a traditional design model.
The test went like this. A designer from the team did a one-page design with another vector-powered design tool they use at PayPal. Then, they designed the exact same prototype but using their Merge component library in UXPin.
It turned out that it took the designer around eight minutes to design a one-page prototype with Merge while designing the same prototype in the other design tool took over an hour. Erica stresses out that the test was conducted by an experienced designer who was competent with the design tool they tested Merge against.
With Merge technology, even some of PayPal’s product managers can flesh out their ideas and business requirements by quickly building functional prototypes in a matter of minutes thanks to fully interactive drag-and-drop components.
Implementing Merge Technology Helped PayPal’s Achieve Their Goals
Fast prototyping is not the only benefit of using UXPin’s Merge technology. Despite having limited resources and designers, PayPal can achieve faster time to market. The product team is realising whole products in the timeframe they used to allocate for designing just mockups.
They also can create higher fidelity prototypes than they did before. It helps C-level executives as well as directors and engineers be on the same page as to what the final product’s look and feel would be like for the end users. They get a better quality feedback from the stakeholders because of that.
The same goes for user testing. High-fidelity prototypes designed in UXPin help them get great insights from the users, and if they need to fix something immediately, they can do that before the next participant and receive feedback much faster than before. When it comes to the design process, it has become more integrative. Product teams are more engaged in the process and can collaborate which impacts product’s quality.