Why design communities, focused topics and interactive activities are important to design professionals and teams
The designers at Futurice are used to organizing and facilitating workshops to co-create and solve problems with our clients – in fact, it’s one of the most tried and tested ways of working in our toolbox. We have noticed that working on client projects makes it easy to get tunnel vision as there is a tendency to get partially detached from the rest of our internal design community. But at the same time, we also learn a lot from project work.
In the middle of our clients’ ongoing design projects, it is important to remember to slow down, look up and reflect on why we are doing what we’re doing, what we are learning and how we can increase our impact even further. This is why our craft community meets on a bi-weekly basis: to grant us a short break from project work and allow us to instead share and reflect on which areas of our craft are going well and which could be improved upon.
The three most important benefits of having a design community
Based on years of our active internal community-building efforts, we have established a deep understanding of the benefits of having a design community (or any other community focused around a specific theme or area of expertise, for that matter). From our perspective, these are the most important ones:
An improved sense of belonging. Working as consultants can sometimes feel like working in a vacuum. But by investing a sprinkle of effort, patience and time in internal activities focused on desired topics, we can increase our sense of belonging and reassure ourselves that we’re part of a greater purpose.
Sharpening our skills and knowledge. There are bottomless wells of knowledge trapped in the minds of us all. By getting together and asking the right questions within the team, we can easily share tricks and experiences we’ve gained from project work.
Staying up to date. To have a successful career in tech – and in fact just to be able to compete with our competitors – we need to constantly be on our toes in terms of new technology and software as well as design team empowerment.
A recap of our design systems workshop
Last year, our design community at Futurice Germany got together and collectively voted on topics where we wanted to improve our execution – and this time, design systems won. We decided to host a full day workshop on the topic, aimed at both Futuriceans and our clients.
The workshop – organized by Jonathan Bölz and a supporting team – included a sharing session on what design systems really are and what their heritage is. The main focus, however, was on learnings and outcomes from finished design system projects with our clients.
How design systems can build bridges between design and development
Daniel Kurfess from zestlabs.io presented his concept Lean Design System, which is a set of modular tactics that enables even small organizations to adopt a systematic approach to team-based product development.
One of the key insights from Daniel’s presentation was that building design systems means establishing a shared language. In the context of Lean Design System, this language is referred to as design codification. It is the belief that all aspects shaping digital products should be defined as code, versioned, and collectively owned.