Communicating with customers shouldn’t be this hard

Intercom is a customer platform with a suite of products for live chat, marketing, feedback, and support. As some of you may have noticed, we use Intercom heavily at Zeplin and just love it. A lot of people must do, since they recently raised $50MM on Series C!

Alex Potrivaev
Alex Potrivaev
Product Designer @Intercom

Alex is a Product Designer at Intercom, based in Dublin and we had the chance to discuss Intercom’s design workflow and how they use Zeplin!

How is the design and development team set up?

We have several teams, responsible for specific products. Usually it’s one designers and several engineers per team, so there is a lot of close collaboration between both. We also work on specific projects between designers across the teams, like when experimenting with pair designing or trying to solve a particular problem.

Intercom Dublin Office
Intercom Dublin Office

How is the overall design workflow?

It usually starts with chats about what our customers want, what we believe in or think is cool. The first step of actual design is system design, where we try to understand how the new designs fit into our current system and whether or not there are some gaps in our thinking. Then we focus on interaction design and eventually on visual design. We try not to have an official handoff between designers and engineers, but rather work closely throughout the whole process.

Although there is a certain structure, the process certainly isn’t linear. We reassess system when we work on the interaction design or come back to interactions, when we work on UI.

Where does Zeplin fit in the picture?

We use Zeplin on every stage of design work. On early stages the main job is sharing designs with other people using the Scene feature.

“In a world without Zeplin, either a designer is miserable, because she needs to do all of that manually or an engineer is miserable, because she needs to guess those details or get them in Sketch…”

Later on, it’s a key tool for actual sharing the design details. Margins, sizes, colors, copy. It’s lightweight, simple and fast. In a world without Zeplin, either a designer is miserable, because she needs to do all of that manually or an engineer is miserable, because she needs to guess those details or get them in sketch.

I love Zeplin as an example of how meaningful automation of menial tasks can make our lives better. With Zeplin there is no need to manually write out sizes or margins, type the copy, export icons. It’s simply f***ing awesome and saves lots of time to focus on design explorations.

Intercom Dublin Office 2 - 1 Intercom Dublin Office 2 - 2
Intercom Dublin Office 2 - 3
Intercom Dublin Office