Ash is an artist, author and designer. She works on Adobe XD in San Francisco.


What has working in such large organisation like Adobe taught you about presenting your work?

Context, context, context. It’s so important for everyone to be on the same page on what problem we’re solving, any information we’ve learned along the way, and metrics for success. The way I typically approach getting everyone up to speed quickly is to leave a good paper trail, as well as refining elevator pitches of different lengths. It’s vital to have a canonical link or document that people can refer to that not only updates as changes come in, but also details any decisions along the way. That’s great for the self-serve types. For those that do better in person, I try to have a 30 second round up of everything I’ve been working on, and longer spiels if the person I’m talking to has a bit more time to give.

Is there anything you focus on when taking a design idea to your team?

I worked on my own for almost three years, and one of the parts I like best about having a team: it’s impossible for one person to accurately consider every edge case that will break a design system, a team that has each others’ backs can defray a ton of risk. From inception to shipping a live feature, I’m always asking, “what am I missing? what am I forgetting?” I try to convey everything I know, while gathering the information I don’t. Also, sometimes you just need an extra eye when you’ve been looking at something too long, to tell you, yes, that thing does look super weird.

Also how much do you worry about polishing the initial idea during the execution phase? When do you decide it’s enough?

It’s a delicate balance, and it depends on what kind of problems I’m trying to sort out at the moment. Getting feedback about the sizing of text on a button isn’t helpful if you’re trying to validate the structure of your app. On the other hand, things need to be at a certain fidelity to assess how successful they’ll be. I’ve had plenty of sketches that looked like carnival slot machines once they have any sort of pixels applied to them. I’ll stay at a mid-fidelity for a long time to work out interaction problems. Not too polished, but rendered realistically enough to assess proportions and positions.

It does help if there’s an existing design system, though. That way you can just copy and paste pieces without getting caught up in pixels too early.

My informal test for ‘done-ness’ is if I start accidentally clicking or tapping my comp and getting mad that the buttons don’t do anything. That’s when something crosses the threshold into something real.

From inception to shipping a live feature, I’m always asking, “what am I missing? what am I forgetting?”