Design Better Podcast

Design Better Podcast Podcast

The Design Better podcast delivers insights from the world’s most renowned design leaders, empowering teams to transform their practice and build remarkable products. This series is hosted by Aarron Walter and Eli Woolery and brought to you by InVision, the digital product design platform used to make the world’s best customer experiences. Discover more best practices, research, and resources at www.designbetter.com.

Lessons from Season 3
The third season of the Design Better Podcast recently wrapped up, where we explored the connected workflow: how designers can work more effectively and efficiently with their engineering and product counterparts to create incredible customer experiences.  We interviewed guests ranging from Julie Zhuo, VP of Product Design at Facebook and author of The Making of a Manager, to Diego Rodriguez, Chief Product and Design Officer at Intuit. In this episode, Aarron and Eli share what they learned from some of the...

Jina Anne, Founder of Clarity Conference, on Crafting a Community for Design Systems
If you’re engaged in any sort of community surrounding Design Systems, whether it’s the Design Systems Slack, or the Clarity Conference, then you have likely benefited from Jina Anne’s work. A self-styled Design Systems Advocate, Jina has been passionate about creating events, content and resources that bring together communities of people who care about design systems and how they impact product design. In this bonus episode of the Design Better Podcast, we chat with Jina about how she got into Design Syst...

Diego Rodriguez of Intuit: Building design culture into big business
Diego Rodriguez has had a remarkable career at the intersection of design, business, and education. He has served as Global Managing Director of design firm IDEO, founding faculty member of Stanford’s d.school, and is currently Executive Vice President, Chief Product and Design Officer at Intuit. In this episode, we discuss how design can influence broader business goals. Diego shares Intuit’s unique approach to product design, and the need to build a certain level of trust and empathy with customers when d...


Journey into the connected workflow
As we prepare for the last episode of Season 3, take a look back at some of the stories that have inspired us. In this short update episode, hear from hosts Aarron Walter and Eli Woolery about what they've enjoyed about this season of the Design Better Podcast so far and preview our upcoming episode with Diego Rodriguez, Executive Vice President, Chief Product and Design Officer at Intuit. There's lots more to come, so be sure to subscribe for updates at www.designbetter.com. ___ Design Better by InVision p...

Che Douglas of Booking.com: Leading a transformation
Che Douglas led the transformation of the design team at The Wall Street Journal, from a service-based organization to a strategic component of an embedded Engineering, Product and Design (EPD) structure. We chat with Che, who is now VP of Design at Booking.com, about how he got the right people involved to transform their design organization and spread design throughout the company. Che discusses the use of design sprints and how he showed the value of design to the organization through some of the team's ...

Atlassian’s Lori Kaplan on designing across the seams
Lori Kaplan is a veteran design leader, whose pioneering work includes authorship of the original Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines in the 1980s. In this episode we speak with Lori about how the Atlassian playbook helps both internal and external teams address design challenges, the deep roots of cross-functional collaboration at the company, as well as Lori’s perspective on how attitudes towards design have shifted in recent years across industries. Takeaways: How Atlassian “designs across the seams” w...


Indeed’s Quinton Larson on being adaptable and working thoughtfully
Quinton Larson is a design leader who has consistently brought thoughtful leadership into the companies where he works. In this episode we speak with Quinton about his prior work at IDEO and eBay, his involvement with Indeed’s Job Seeker Journey team, how he makes sure the right people are involved in project kickoffs, and how design systems help create a more connected workflow between designers and developers. Takeaways: Getting the right people involved in project kickoffs Being adaptable as a design le...

Bob Baxley: What it takes to build a connected workflow
What do Yahoo, Apple, and Pinterest have in common? Silicon Valley design vet Bob Baxley. With extensive design leadership experience under his belt, Bob knows a thing or two about bridging the gaps between teams to help champion a connected workflow. In this episode, Aarron and Eli tap Bob’s insights on productive design reviews, getting in sync with engineers, and what it takes to build key relationships with executives—all in the name of making products people can’t imagine living without....

Wells Fargo’s Josh Ulm on design’s role in business
Josh Ulm has quite the CV—Adobe Design Lead, Vodafone Head of UX, Oracle VP of Design, and now Wells Fargo SVP of Strategic Design and Insights. One thing he’s learned along the way is that “the most valuable role for design to play is influencing the business—not just the product." In this episode of the Design Better Podcast, Aarron and Eli covered subjects ranging from where the connected workflow is most broken, to the one critical question to ask executive sponsors when starting a project....


Brad Frost and Dan Mall: Rethinking designer-developer collaboration
Enter design system pros Brad Frost and Dan Mall, long-time collaborators known for their expertise in bridging the gap between designers and developers. In this episode of the Design Better Podcast, Aarron and Eli talk with Dan and Brad about reducing friction between these two very different disciplines. They explore a few misconceptions around agile methodology, the risks of the creative technologist role, and breaking the design process to fix it. This is a conversation you don’t want to miss....

Airbnb’s Benjamin Evans on the power of inclusive design
Benjamin Evans, Inclusive Design Lead for Airbnb, is part of a new kind of problem solvers tackling issues like racism, sexism, and bias in digital product design. In this episode of the Design Better Podcast, Eli and Aarron chat with Benjamin about using techniques like design thinking, research, and storytelling to ensure a more inclusive experience for all your users....

Google’s Abigail Hart Gray: Communicating the value of design
Abigail Hart Gray, Director of UX at Google, is one of the most inspiring design leaders we know. A self-proclaimed analytics nerd, Abigail uses numbers to deftly communicate the value of design to her colleagues, giving her team the runway to do great work. In this episode of the Design Better Podcast, Eli and Aarron get Abigail’s take on measuring design’s impact on business, how parenthood has changed her approach to problem solving, and more....


Julie Zhuo: Learning to manage like a leader
Listen as Julie Zhuo, VP of Product Design at Facebook and author of The Making of a Manager, recalls some of her earliest professional experiences at one of the fastest growing companies on the planet. She reveals how she got her start and grew to be a highly influential design leader renowned for building top-notch teams. Julie talks about the difference between leading and managing, and shares personal examples that can help you advance your career. Bio Julie Zhuo is one of Silicon Valley’s top product d...

Bonus Episode: Leah Buley and the New Frontier of Design Maturity
What if you could unlock the full potential for business impact in design? On today's episode we are joined by Leah Buley, InVision's Director of Design Education and author of the new report on design in business, The New Design Frontier. Leah shares the insights she's learned from surveying thousands of companies to explore the relationship between design practices and business performance. We chat with Leah about how teams are measuring success in design, the dimensions of design maturity, and debunk myt...

Season 3 Special Preview
The next season of the Design Better podcast is nearly here. Listen to a special preview of the upcoming season which focuses on the impact and challenges of the connected workflow. We sat down with some incredible design leaders from Facebook, Airbnb, Google, Wall Street Journal, Atlassian, and Intuit for honest conversations that will give you a fresh perspective on the way you work. Be sure to subscribe for the new season coming soon....


Special Episode - Jake Knapp - Make Time
What if you could set aside a distraction-free space to accomplish one meaningful thing in your life each day? How might that change your relationships, hobbies, work, or mental wellbeing? In a special episode of the DesignBetter.Co Podcast, we talk to Jake Knapp, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Sprint, about his new book, Make Time. The book advocates for forgetting about being productive and focusing instead on being purposeful by using design sprints thinking to define a “highlight” for each d...

#020: Margaret Stewart: Scaling through storytelling
As organizations grow, they tend to think in terms of processes and data, and although those elements are vital to scale, teams sometimes lose sight of the why. Key to scaling is building an infrastructure that supports a company’s core mission. In our final Season 2 episode of the DesignBetter.Co Podcast, Facebook Vice President of Product Design Margaret Gould Stewart talks with Aarron and Eli about how storytelling, open communication, and keeping the focus on the customer help the company's design team ...

#019: Kim Williams: Creating, scaling, and championing design systems
A design system helps deliver a unified experience for the end user, no matter what the medium. But it also means a cohesive internal experience as well. Design systems unite teams across time and space, bring designers and engineers together through a shared language, and help designers focus on experience over style. In our newest episode of the DesignBetter.Co Podcast, Indeed’s director of design experience, Kim Williams, talks with Aarron and Eli about the evolution of Indeed’s design system, and how co...

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Rewind: Irene Au explains the secrets to scaling design teams
For many years, Google’s engineering-led culture cherished efficiency over user experience. Irene Au arrived at a pivotal moment in the company’s history and helped shape the way Google’s products clearly value design today.   In this Rewind episode of the DesignBetter.Co podcast, Khosla Venture’s Irene Au talks about how she helped scale design at Google, shaped the design philosophy that carries into today, and now, as design partner at Khosla Ventures, helps startups build their own teams and processes t...

#018: Vas Natarajan: operationalizing design for business success
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to scaling design, but there are similarities between fast-growing companies that prime them for lasting success. In this episode, Accel Partners’ Vas Natarajan talks about effective ways design leaders can operationalize hiring and scaling. He also discusses the hallmarks of a healthy team at any growth stage, what designers and developers can to do collaborate better, and why storytelling is key to growing a company. “Storytelling capability—especially at the fou...

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#017: Maria Giudice: DesignOps, diversity, and design making a difference
Rallying around a shared vision is one of the biggest challenges for design teams operating at scale. So how can you foster that vision and bring people together to execute it? In this episode, Hot Studio Founder and former Autodesk VP of Experience Design Maria Giudice talks about overcoming team silos and learning to lead with influence instead of authority. She also discusses why diversity is one of the keys to great product design, along with lessons she learned while working with fast-moving companies ...

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#016: Megan Quinn: making design-led choices to scale with better outcomes
Do you ever wonder what it’s like to be part of fast-growing, design-led companies like Slack, Medium, or even InVision? Every team has challenges with scaling—and it turns out those challenges share many common traits when you peek behind the curtain. In this episode, Spark Capital’s Megan Quinn talks about the common hurdles she sees across companies as they scale. She also discusses her own experiences going from the engineering-driven culture at Google to the design-driven culture at Square, and more. ...

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#015: Meriah Garrett: Scaling with empathy and intention
When companies start scaling design, the emphasis is sometimes on getting more shipped—but what if the first deliverable was a balanced team instead of a new feature?   USAA’s Chief Design Officer Meriah Garrett has a unique approach to creating balanced design teams. In this new episode, she also discusses her role in the C-suite and how being mission-driven affects product development across multiple offices.   “We have this power to synthesize the world into something that feels actionable, and that is b...

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#014: TS Balaji: representing design with a multidisciplinary approach
Design leaders spend a lot of energy trying to get a seat at the table. It’s an ongoing process—and it’s tough to keep design involved over time. What questions should be asked along the way, and what business language can design leaders use? In this episode, LogMeIn’s Vice President Product Design & Customer Experience TS Balaji talks about helping big corporations use design to be competitive in new ways. He covers everything from maturity models and setting up team playbooks to how LogMeIn measures the b...

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#013: Diana Mounter: from design silos to design system
Design systems give product designers and developers reusable, interchangeable components to make the design process efficient and repeatable. They’re a critical part of scaling—so why build everything from scratch when you can plug in pre-built elements? In this episode, GitHub’s Design Systems Manager Diana Mounter talks about navigating the path from style guide contributor to full-time design systems manager. She covers everything from getting buy-in beyond the design team to deciding whether or not to ...

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#012: Meredith Black: building DesignOps dream teams
A lot of companies are investing more in design. As they do, the organization scales. As it scales, it has to operationalize, become more efficient, and plug into the rest of the company—but what makes all that possible? In this episode, Pinterest’s Head of Design Operations Meredith Black talks about the emerging practice of DesignOps, and how she introduced it to Pinterest more than three years ago. Meredith covers everything from when it’s time to start building a DesignOps team to advice for getting sta...

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#011: Lynsey Thornton: going with the org-change flow
Over the last 10 years, Shopify has grown from a scrappy 5-person startup to a team of more than 3,000 across five locations. Scaling a company that fast takes a lot of talented people—and Lynsey Thornton is one of them. As Shopify’s VP of UX and Core Product, Lynsey takes on an array of challenging tasks. In the first episode of the season, she talks about everything from building a leadership pipeline to governance of the famed design system Polaris. Her advice and first-hand experiences also highlight ma...

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#010: Mia Blume: design, or be designed
“Will I lose my creativity? Will I be stuck in meetings all day?” Those are common concerns for any individual contributor transitioning to a managerial role—even experienced product leaders like Mia Blume. Luckily, Mia’s impressive career spans positions at places like IDEO, Pinterest, and Square, so she’s had plenty of opportunities to see what it takes to make a fundamental impact on culture from beyond her laptop screen. In this episode, Mia shares what it was like stepping away from daily design work t...

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#009: Christian Madsbjerg: exploring how humans experience the world
In today’s tech-driven economy, it seems like it can be hard to justify the value of a traditional liberal arts education. But given the speed at which AI-driven advancements are taking over traditional jobs—even technical ones—perhaps a better understanding of humans and their cultures is exactly what we need. Because being product-driven really means people people-driven—and we’re betting few people understand the human experience better than the author of Sensemaking, and co-founder and Senior Partner of...

arts liberal red associates madsbjerg sensemaking

#008: Jake Knapp: beyond the Sprint
If we asked you to name a recent book that’s really changed how product teams address sticky challenges, there’s a good chance Jake Knapp’s Sprint would be at the top of your list. Since publishing and popularizing the process, design sprints have become a tool for teams at organizations as wide ranging as Prudential, the United Nations, and The British Museum. Given the impact of Sprint, we’re delighted to have Jake on the show to dig into questions we’ve been curious about since reading. In this episode, ...

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#007: Laura Martini: getting to the right finish line
If there’s anyone we’ve interviewed on the DesignBetter.Co Podcast so far that really embodies the product-driven concept, it’s Laura Martini. Not only does she have a background in both design and engineering, but she also has a keen product sense with a real understanding the business factors behind good design decisions. Laura has had a really interesting career too—from working as a researcher in John Maeda’s Media Lab at MIT and leading the design team at med-tech startup Counsyl to her current role as...

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#006: Michael Leon: from skate punk to creative force
How do you go from being a self-professed skate punk, to a design director at Nike, creative director at Patagonia, and land as the global creative director for Sonos? As a creative force, Michael Leon has worked with some of the most product driven companies out there. In this episode, Aaron and Eli talk with Michael about the tension between sustainability and business goals, maintaining a consistent voice and tone across a company like Patagonia that sells hundreds of different products globally, and som...

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#005: Alex Schleifer: a mission to belong anywhere
Airbnb’s mission is both simple and powerful: to help create a world where you can belong anywhere. Alex Schleifer, Airbnb’s head of design, fully embraces this mission. To create the products that make the Airbnb experience so welcoming and immersive, he also believes in being product driven, and organizes his teams in an Engineering, Product, Design (EPD) structure, which they also call “the triforce.” Have a listen as Aarron and Eli talk with Alex about the advantages of this team structure, and about so...

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#004: Albert Lee: kickstart a design transformation
Albert Lee has had an amazing arc to his career. From his beginnings as a wine-steward at Chez Panisse, to working at Frank Gehry’s architecture studio, and on to the role of Associate Partner at IDEO and now Design Partner at NEA, the nation’s largest VC firm, Albert always strives to work with the best of the best. Given the breadth of his experience at these top institutions, it’s probably not a surprise that even though his expertise is in design, he values the balanced approach between design, engineer...

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#003: Dan Winger: building the future at LEGO
If you’re anything like us, playing with LEGOs was a foundational part of your childhood, and a big part of the reason you got interested in design. And given the arc of their history, it is clear that LEGO is a product-driven company: their products are addictively engaging, highly-engineered design masterpieces, they clearly understand the needs of their customers, and they are constantly evolving and innovating with their products to remain a highly-profitable company. So you can imagine our excitement w...

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#002: David Kelley: creative confidence and aligning teams
David Kelley doesn’t like to claim to have come up with the term design thinking, even though a most people would say he did. But regardless of who coined it, as founder of IDEO and the Stanford d.school he has been one of the most influential proponents of design thinking, and human-centered design in general. When it comes to bringing together engineering, product, and design teams early in the design process, and aligning those teams towards a common goal, design thinking has few equals, and should be pa...

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#001: Irene Au: scaling design at Google and beyond
Google could now be considered a product driven company, but it wasn’t always that way. For many years Google’s engineering-led culture cherished efficiency over user experience. Irene Au arrived at a pivotal moment in the company’s history, and helped shape the way that Google’s product’s clearly value design today. Now in her role as a design partner at Khosla Ventures, she helps startups “build high performing teams, establish design practices, mentor and grow the next generation of great designers, and ...

design google venture capital khosla udacity