Design Process Map



As the Design Team at Tableau grew, it presented an opportunity to improve how designers engage with PMs, Engineers and other members of the product team. I found that most designers have certain implicit or explicit process(es) they follow when working on design projects. Still, I found that designing products can seem fuzzy and unpredictable. Like many other creative endeavors, going from problem to solution can initially feel confusing, before clarity sets in.


A defined design process helps bring in some structure and illuminate hidden parts of the design journey. As design teams and product complexity grow, a defined design process also effectively handles these new challenges at scale.


I partnered with a UX manager to drive this process alongside a team of designer volunteers. We organized a few biweekly sessions to brainstorm on ideal design processes. Shortly after said UX manager moved on to another job, I stepped in as the primary driver.


Introducing a process can help bring in transparency and predictability, but too much process can lead to boring, mindless work. We had to figure out a way to make this process applicable and meaningful to designers across the company. We also had to get buy-ins from leadership across the Development Organization.

Process Rollout Approach

  • Listening & Learning: Reached out to designers to learn about their processes and take note of areas of potential improvement. Team of design volunteers brainstormed on problem areas across the company and ways to improve.

  • Research & Process exploration: Explored various design processes employed by different companies. Looked into research work on models that lead to effective design engagement and problem solving.

  • Solicited Partners and Peers: Processes like this tend to be almost impossible to rollout without getting buy-ins from CEOs, VPs, managers and other peers. Through partnership with Area Heads, we prioritized candidate teams for pilot testing.

  • Design Process Pilots: Progressively rolled out design process map through a pilot on a single team. Took notes of observations, and expanded pilot roll-out to multiple teams.

  • Debriefs, Reports & Tweaks: Ran debriefs with teams that successfully rolled out the initial pilot. During brainstorming sessions with teams, tweaks were suggested and made to the design process map. I wrote a report on the status of the design process map rollout, and conveyed my findings to the design leadership team and the Head of the Development Organization.

Paul Lazarus