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We had the chance to chat with Brent, lead product designer at Zendesk! Here goes:
How is the design and development team set up at Zendesk?
The Zendesk product family is sort of decentralised and each team is based in a particular country or region. For example, I work on the analytics product in Montpellier, France. Seating-wise it varies from office to office but, in Montpellier, I sit with engineering along with the Product Manager and Director of Data Analytics. We sit in close proximity so there is a lot of informal communication. Questions about designs and prototypes get answered quickly. It’s a highly-collaborative environment and we tend to over communicate. We document a lot of our process for posterity but nothing beats talking face-to-face. We also collaborate across products and regions to ensure we’re using the latest UI components and aligned to Zendesk branding.
How is the overall design workflow?
"We want to make sure we’re solving the right problem, then we’ll apply fidelity and detail later."
I would say the design process at Zendesk is pretty orthodox. We work off of two-week sprints and, as team leads, work to define the problem first. Next we’ll do some divergent thinking, then synthesise ideas, sketch and validate. We want to make sure we’re solving the right problem, then we’ll apply fidelity and detail later. Any tool that frees us up to spend additional time solving customer problems and less on manual documentation is killer. Zeplin does just that.
Where does Zeplin fit in the workflow?
We use Zeplin in the final stages of the design process to automate a lot of the production work. Before Zeplin there was an unnecessary amount of rigour applied to the production part of the design process. A lot of the tools I tried fell short of eliminating unwanted review cycles. Zeplin cured my woes and helped me focus on the part of the process I enjoyed the most.
Visual design at Zendesk is huge for us so the fit and finish has to be just right. Zeplin helps me keep the documentation clean and nails the font, sizing and positioning right down to the pixel. With Zeplin, I don’t have to sweat the details. Hands-down, my go-to tool for collaborating with engineers is Zeplin.
"A lot of the tools I tried fell short of eliminating unwanted review cycles. Zeplin cured my woes and helped me focus on the part of the process I enjoyed the most."
What is the one best thing about Zeplin?
Do I have to pick one?? Sketch integration is great. With one command I can export my Sketch files to Zeplin and…viola. Drawing red lines and writing css styles by hand flat-out sucked. Now I can get back to doing high-value design work.
Zeplin is a great tool for helping us get from design to CSS quickly. It bridges the gap between visual design and code and reduces a lot of back-and-forth. Very soon, all Zendesk designers will be using Zeplin to document their work. Then all product teams will be "reading from the same hymnal." With Zeplin we're able to standardise our design documentation across the globe.