Try the no-code website builder used by designers and marketing design teams (and by this show, for the site you're on now!) – Get started for free
Doist’s marketing design team-of-two both join me for this episode to discuss the many systems in place that help them get their work done as they market the two productivity apps that the company makes: Todoist (a to do list app) and Twist (a team communication tool. Learn how they foster an environment of creativity and collaboration despite being remote, and how the respect for design in the company leads to a lot of freedom and transparency for the designers.
0:00 - Introduction
2:15 - Design team structure at Doist
5:20 - Introducing the “Do system” for projects
7:00 - In-house vs agency
12:00 - Marketing design responsibilities
16:10 - How the Do system works
18:10 - Design tools & process
21:30 - Feedback & trust
25:00 - Measuring the success of a project
27:50 - Performance reviews
29:20 - Challenges
32:20 - Being the designer “on call”
35:20 - Getting hands on in the code
37:00 - Favorite parts of the job
40:20 - Wrap up
Charli: Welcome back to a new episode of Inside Marketing Design. I'm Charli and the Marketing Design Lead at ConvertKit. And I started this series to get on calls with my fellow marketing designers in the tech industry. And talk about how they do their work and what they love about their jobs. This week we're taking a look inside marketing design at Doist.
Doist is a company that makes productivity apps, they make Todoist, which is an app to keep track of your tasks, projects, goals and also Twist which is a team communication tool. They are a fully remote company with about 75ish employees all over the world and I got a chance to chat today with their two marketing designers, Stephen and Anaïs. Both of these designers actually started at Doist around the same time and in January this year 2020.
Stephen has a background doing freelance work for non-profits. He's also worked before at a marketing agency on an in-house design team there before shifting over and working in house in a tech company. Anaïs has worked in an agency before as well in a design studio. She's also done corporate in house work, as well as marketing design at other tech companies too. So both of these designers bring quite a range of experience to their roles and this conversation it was really interesting to talk about the differences they've found between working in house at a tech company verses being in a more agency situation. We also touched on the fact that, because Doist has these two different apps, with two different brands and then there's also the brand of Doist, the company itself. What that's like for them as an in house marketing design team and how that variation in their work goes. So, without further ado. Let's get into today's episode and take a look inside marketing design at Doist.
Welcome to Inside Marketing Design Stephen and Anaïs. I'm so excited to have you here our first episode with a dual representation from a design team. This is gonna be great. Let's start off by talking a little bit about Doist. Tell me a little bit about the marketing team there and how it's structured. Or actually, you know what I should phrase that as the marketing design team because I don't know where you team fits within the company.
Anaïs: Well you're actually seeing the whole marketing design team right here.
Charli: There we go, okay we have the whole marketing design team at Doist on the show, amazing.
Anaïs: Isn't it? Yeah, Stephen and I are the marketing designers and we then have a bigger design team of about eight people with two product designer, two illustrators and our head of design.
Charli: And do you sit like, marketing design is part of the design team rather than the marketing team?
Stephen: I would say we definitely fit in between. I wrote like we split our allegiance because in a lot of ways we do more work with like the marketing team and interact and like brainstorm communicate daily with folks on the marketing team. But in terms of our manager and our team meetings that we do and how we share the progress of work we're doing, we are officially on the design team.
Charli: That makes sense, yeah. Isn't it interesting how when you're remote those lines do get blurrier I think. I'm thinking back to my first job on the marketing design team in tech was at Xero and we were in a physical office and the marketing design team sat literally alongside the marketing team. And the product design team was on a whole different floor from us. But obviously when you're remote things are a lot blurrier and you can more easily split your allegiance like you said. Do you tend to like collaborate much with the wider design team? You mentioned illustrators being on the rest of the design team. I can assume you'd need illustration work as part of the marketing materials as well. Tell me a bit about that.
Stephen: Yes, illustration is really important to our marketing design and our brand in general. I'd say it's probably the most important aspect visually of what creates our emotional appeal through our brand. But the illustrators they kind of focus as an independent team and we like coordinate the work that we're doing with them and but we also have the illustrations of going into the products, they also have kind of split their time between us and also the blog that we have as a company.
Anaïs: Yes, they are very busy all the time.
Charli: No doubt.
Anaïs: It's all like a lot of communication and when we're working on something we will ask feedback from the product designers and they ask feedback from us on the stuff they're working on. Actually right now we're working a lot on defining certain aspects of our brands and we seek a lot of feedback from the team that way. We're always kind of include the whole design team even if the product team isn't always, care as much as what colors we use on the website because it isn't always relevant to their Todist app or Twist app.
Charli: So it sounds like you two operate, you know as sort of a team within a team then. Where does the work come from for you? Who sets your responsibilities and your work?
Anaïs: That really depends on the project. and in general at Doist we have a very flat organization. So again it always depends on the projects and the need, we have a Do system. We call it Doist objective, which is pretty much any project that will benefit the products or the company. And those can be generated by pretty much anyone. If you have an idea you want to contribute to the company or if you have a project you need to do for your team, you'll propose a Do Project. Then you'll work on proposals. So that person could be myself if it was a project that I wanted to work on. Or it could be the head of marketing or it could be someone working with a translator, who feels like they need more pages translated on the blog or something like that and they'll create a, we call it a Do Proposal, but it's essentially a brief and then we'll share that with the whole team. So that's kind of how our projects get started. And for us as designer I would say often it comes from the marketing team. Most of our projects are for them, but we also have other projects. Like I'm working on, a new contact form for the help center for Todoist and so that came from the support team and they put together their proposal and asked for input for our team of course while putting together the document. Yeah, they're leading the project and I'm part of their team to make it happen.
Charli: It all sounds really collaborative. And you know like ideas could come from any level and everyone's free to suggest things to work on, which I really like the sound of. Yeah, so both of you have agency experience. We were just discussing this before the call. Do you kind of feel sometimes like you operate as an internal agency at Doist because you got these two different apps right, that you're marketing with your designs. What's that like? How does that work?
Stephen: In my experience it is completely different experience from working in an agency.
Stephen: Yeah, I don't know if this is for everyone, but from my background, like the things I didn't like about the agency style is that you, the way the structure works is that you're working for someone, you're not like working on the same project. You don't have the same investment in it. And something that's really wonderful at Doist is that we all are really invested in these two things. So the, like commitment and energy that is being put out is the same and there's an understanding that like everything we're doing benefits all of us and the products.
Anaïs: That's so true, it feels like we're all on the same team because we literally are and we have exactly the same objectives. I mean as an agency, you technically have the objectives of your clients. But it sometimes somethings I lost in translation and it's interesting because often as an agency you're hired as the expert, the brand expert and you would think the client would kind of view you that way, but in experience often we kind of have to work with the client in convincing them that we actually know what we're talking about and this is the right solution. And it's funny but we only have as much convincing to do within our team because they trust us right away and we all consider each other as the experts in their field and we can contribute ideas and they're considered on equal level and that actually has been a big difference for me from the agency side.
Charli: Yeah, I mean you just have this level of ownership, right, that you could never have at an agency when it's that, client/designer relationship. What about Anaïs your comparison to other experience in tech, where you're working perhaps on just one brand? Cause a critique a lot of people often have about in house design, I hear it all the time is don't you get bored, you know working on the same colors, the same fonts all the time? Have you found that having these two different brands, two different apps has helped ease that for you?
Anaïs: Yeah a little bit. I didn't really get bored in my last job either though.
Charli: Yeah, same.
Anaïs: Yeah, we only had one product, but we did like some specific marketing campaigns and those would have their own branding and their own feel and their own story that you could get to craft and that was not that boring. And with Todist, it's actually, we're just talking about this but it's more like three brands because we have Todoist, Twist and Doist as the company. So it's very interesting to think about how they all work together, but they all have their own unique entities and so far I'm not bored at all.
Charli: That's been interesting about doing the series, talking to a lot in house marketing designers and no one has ever mentioned being bored as like a challenge that they face. So I think it's just things that people who aren't yet in house designer worry about that it might be a little unfounded.
Anaïs:Yeah, I think maybe the only thing is that you don't get as often a sense of starting completely from scratch.
Charli: That's so true.
Anaïs: Which is good, but also a little bit stressful. Because you don't know where you're doing, but it's also really fun, a challenge as a designer. So you just don't get as many opportunities like that one. But you also get way more opportunities to refine something to perfection, which is something in agency you're working on the brand and you hand it off to the client and then they do whatever they want with it. Then you just hope that things stay okay. So yeah.
Stephen: I definitely think it's like a personality type or type or working that you like to do. I remember in the interview when I was interviewing for the position. I talked about that with Anna, our head of design. 'Cause she was saying like, that's something that you're gonna be doing is you're only going to be working on these specific things and is that a problem? And I was like, no, I really like that because in the agency I experience that where like you get such, you tend to get such a very surface-level investment I guess in the projects you're working on because they're all budgeted and the timeline's usually pretty tight. So, in my experience, like the thing that I enjoyed the most about my agency work was working on the brand of the agency. Because I got to like have that deep, like investment in it and be very specific. Anaïs and I are both like very detail people and like having systems. So I got to like invest the time in that. So I am actually loving the limited nature of the work we're doing.
Charli: Yeah, it's like they say right, constraints breed creativity. I think in house design is definitely an example of that.
Anaïs: For sure.
Charli: Tell me about your responsibilities as marketing designers at Doist. Like what are you responsible for?
Stephen: So, like Anaïs was saying before with the Do Cycle. It is very dependent on the project. So typically though I would say out responsibilities would be like the landing pages for our products, our marketing websites, the help center, there's like the emails that we send out, the marketing emails. Any videos, animation, that type of thing on social media that we put out.
Anaïs: Our brands in general, defining the brand. It's interesting because we came in after they already had a marketing designer. So we inherited a brand, but we also have to evolve it as the company itself was evolving. So it, yeah, it's its own project and it's funny because we don't consider it its own Do. The way any other project is considered and then we kind of do this on the side as we're working on other projects and we realize that we need to define certain aspects of the brand in order to continue with our projects.
Stephen: That's the thing I'm working on right now. So with the three brands, like right before we started the company just launched a redesign, rebrand of the Todoist app, but it wasn't, and the goal was the have all the Twist and Doist as well on that same visual language. But, it hadn't got to that point. So we're working now on how that is all going to work together. Like the way the colors work between brands and tying them altogether. Yeah, we're putting a lot of energy into that at the moment and like documenting it in a way that is understandable for other people at the company.
Charli: That sounds like a big job.
Stephen: But it's really fun and we're making progress.
Anaïs: Yeah, and it's a good way for Stephen and I to align ourselves on what the brand is and kind of be on the same page on every aspect of the brand. It's interesting because it was previously just one marketing designer and so they didn't really have to be as specific about documentation or things like that because they would just make their own decisions on and remember details about how do treat certain aspect of the website and something like that. For us, Stephen has been doing a lot of the website pages, so when I get in there. I'm like, Stephen, can you tell me what decisions you have been making in these areas so I can make sure to continue that? Yeah, it's interesting to work that way.
Charli: Oh man, okay, that's making, 'cause I'm the solo marketing designer right now at ConvertKit and that's making me realize that should probably be documenting a lot more. So, you know to help out our future selves if we bring someone else on the team. Yep, good note.
Stephen: Even stuff like, oh typically you use like this many pixels between the last section on the page and the footer. Like if I don't write that down somewhere I'm expecting the Anaïs will realize that's what I'm doing by looking at my previous work and that's not really fair to her.
Anaïs: At least the footer is the same on every page, but like for other element I kind of have to back and dig through his files to find that out. So we've been documenting that, so I don't have to do it anymore.
Charli: How do you split the work between you two? Like who decides who works on what project?
Stephen: It's like back to the Do system. So each month we have like a Do coordinator, which is I guess maybe the equivalent of like a project manager at another company. And they work with out team heads, to identify what are the projects that we're going to be working on each month and just the availability of people to join a team. And it has a lot to do with like what you worked on the last month, because maybe you have been giving input to the scoping of that project so it makes sense that you're familiar with the details of it that you would work on it. But they also ask us what we want to do and have some.
Anaïs: Yeah, if you're passionate about something you can say it and you'll probably get to work on it.
Charli: Let's talk through a project at Doist. So you've got a project that you're working on. How does it start? How does a project start?
Anaïs: All right, let's go back to the Do System.
Stephen: This is really an interview about the Do System.
Anaïs: I know. But it is it's a very strong system that really defines how we work at Doist in general. It's been working very well for me in general. But yeah, so once you have your Do Proposal, we document. That document will include that the team should be in terms of what type of team members do we need. Do we need a developer? Do we need a designer? Do we need a copywriter? And then once you've defined that, that will be worked out with the heads, who can work on this. Which designer, we can put on this project and then once you've been assigned to a Do, you're part of that squad, as we call it. And then usually the person who created the Do Proposal is going to be the squad leader. And be in charge of project managing pretty much the whole project and be somewhat responsible for the success of the Do. If we can we do a video chat kickoff. But the video chat is really just intended to kind of get the team chatting with each other. Get in sync. But any vital information will be in the documents or discussed in Twist, so that there is a way for anybody to access that information. And if your timezone is too crazy and you can't make the meeting, then you can always go back and look at that information somewhere else. So yeah, we'll start the Do that way. And again depending on the project, we kind of organize the timeline however the team see fit. And each team member or squad member will define what they're going to work on first and we actually share our progress every week. And we say, last week I worked on this and next week I'm planning to work on that. And we continue to evolve things that way.
Charli: Nice. And now Stephen how about you take us through some of the like your design process, like what tools do you use as part of that? Do you both use the same tools? Maybe I should be asking both of you this question.
Stephen: Yes this is a--
Anaïs: You can answer that one.
Stephen: So this is something that we are working on right now. So our product teams use Sketch and the marketing team is using Figma right now for our design mock-ups. It's proven to not be the best system having the separate workflows like that because in a lot of ways our work is linked, especially from the marketing side like needing mock-ups of the product and having them not in the same tool. It's not a terrible experience. But it's certainly not a streamlined one. So we are actively working on figuring out how to move forward as a full team. The reason we really like, have liked Figma for the marketing stuff is the collaboration features, both for me and Anaïs, we really like to pair design and work on problems together when possible. But also we've built a workflow using some of its features to allow the copywriters to work directly in the file when they're writing and this has proven to be really helpful for us as a team just to, because I think there's always this struggle of like, you can't design until you have the words, but the wording can benefit from having some design constraints.
Charli: It's like a chicken or egg situation, isn't it?
Stephen: Yeah, exactly. So what we've done and this has been, we've tested it a few times, just between one designer and one copywriter, is we work on during the first cycle, the first month of the Do like a general structure for that page that we're working on or the website, what the information is that we're trying to communicate, what the goals are, but like specific words. Like there will be a heading here, there will be a subheading here. Then the designer will take the rough outline and start designing, just like taking ideas. Like okay, so we're definitely gonna need a section here about this information. Just kind of some loose mock-ups. Either I will try my hand at doing the copywriting or like just write some funny notes to leave with the copywriter. And then once I get maybe the first week, I'll just exploring ideas and then the copywriter will come into Figma and start working directly in the file there and we just use the comments to like, hey, I need an extra line here. Like, I need this text object to be smaller. And yeah, it's very collaborative and fluid process.
Charli: I love that. This is something that I've just like I've only done on one project so far with the copywriter that I work with and it was just like, why have I not thought to do this before? I think it was that I switched from Sketch to Figma, but I didn't really change out my design process a whole lot in moving across tools. It just meant that I could access things that everyone else was accessing. I just never thought about the fact that now it was easy non-designers to get in there and edit the file as well. So yeah, I love hearing that that is working for you and that gives me the confidence that I need to keep working on that with my copywriter for sure.
How does feedback loops work throughout the project for you? It sounds like you and Anaïs, Stephen are sharing pretty regularly what each other's doing. Do you have stages within a project to where you like formally present work I suppose for feedback or anything like that?
Stephen: Not usually. Another thing that we do is this concept of a directly responsible Doister, DRD. What that kind of means or the idea behind that is like Anaïs was saying before, we trust each other to be the expert of what we're working on and it's ultimately the DRDs like final say. So it's up to you who you want feedback from. It's up to you to how you take that feedback. For the most part. Like for instance I'm working a redesign on the Doist website and like wanted to get specific feedback from our like CXO folks to just make sure we're on the right track. But, you know we're not the type of company where like the CEO, what he says goes, that type of environment.
Charli: So does that mean, is the DRD the same person as the Do, what was the word you used?
Stephen: So much terminology.
Anaïs: Squad leader.
Charli: The squad leader, yeah that one. Is the squad leader and the DRD the same or not always?
Stephen: My understanding of it is like directly responsible doer is like just your piece of the Do, you're responsible for that. And the squad leader is sort of just like, keeping everyone on track towards the timeline and the goals, organizing communication.
Anaïs: Yeah, it's very unique at Doist, everybody is super self-reliant and responsible for their own side of things. It's really a pleasure to work with people like that because they're not second-guessing your decisions and then when they contribute a question or a suggestion it's always very thoughtful and actually helpful towards making you design better. For me I like, I'm very collaborative designer. Even at the agency I would tend to share my work with other designers more than other designers would. But I tend to share with the design team in general. Say, hey, this is what I came up with here. Feel free to look at it, give comment whenever and then with the squad I will share on a regular basis to make sure that every knows what the progress is on the design side. And it works for me. And with Stephen I just kind of share even more often.
Charli: So it sounds like everything is pretty asynchronous obviously at Doist. So there's not like a weekly design crit or something where you're like, this is what I'm working on to the design team.
Anaïs: No, but we're trying to implement something like that. With the design review we wanted to do something. It was more informative to kind of share what everybody's doing, and less to receive feedback, but we're trying to do something like that.
Charli: Yeah, yeah that makes sense.
Stephen: So the way we do things now is because our time zones are so disparate. We have one of our illustrators Yin, is in Taiwan. And Anaïs is in Denver. So like there's no overlap whatsoever. So we can't really do like full team meetings, unless Yin wants to stay up really late.
Stephen: So what we do each Monday is we each like write down sort of what we worked on last week, what we're gonna be working on this week, anything that's blocking us. And we do do some synchronous meetings on Monday as well, but it's split up. So it's me and Anaïs, it's like the Western hemisphere people and the Eastern hemisphere people. But we record those meetings so we can listen in on what is happening.
Charli: Yeah, I love that.
Stephen: Yeah, but there's no like everyone get together and talk about the work.
Charli: What about when a project's over? How do you measure the success of it at Doist?
Anaïs: Well every project has different success metrics and Doist is not really data driven, it's more data informed. So we take that into consideration. But we don't make all our decisions that way. And some of my projects like I have, we've done, refreshed a lot of our marketing emails and so those have more specific goals in terms of increasing clickrate and things like that. I'm still curious to see how much we're gonna stick to those numbers. But the project is still going on, so it's kind of hard to tell. But for something like the contact form that I'm working on with the help center right now. The main metric is gonna be if we get less contact tickets that people could have answered themselves by using the help center then that would be a successful site and I think also making sure we don't alienate our users through the process is important, but that's also harder to measure. So we always listen to our users a lot and their feedback and so I think we'll get some of that that way.
Stephen: Yeah, it's very hard. I'm actually really curious to find out how other people do this from watching this series. But it's very hard to track or definitively say this the the effect of design on the success of something because it's very subjective and there's so many other factors. Like for instance Twist is our team communication tool and it's really focused on remote work and asynchronous communication. But like, in addition to launching a new webpage that we are working on, the coronavirus happened and lots of companies immediately started going remote. So it's like how do we say what was the cause of what?
Charli: Yeah, yeah, no that makes sense. Do you do any sort of like AB testing? Like testing different designs against each other any of that sort of thing yet?
Anaïs: Mm, we have not done as much of that. I'd like to do more actually, but sometimes you have to plan ahead for being able to do some AB testing and some of the project we've done we just haven't been able to do so. But in the future, I would like to think more about that.
Charli: Yeah, it sounds to me like Doist has a really strong focus on being like a brand-driven company. Right, like just in terms of even the investment of having two illustrators on the team of 75, that's an investment that a lot of tech companies haven't made.
Anaïs: Yeah, that was such a big deal when I applied for the job. Because of that actually.
Charli: Yeah, so that makes sense and probably is why the data is less of a focus because a brand is nearly impossible to measure in terms of numbers.And you only really know that it's working as a whole essentially. What about your performance as designers? Now since you've only been here six months, I don't know if like maybe you haven't had a performance review or something like that. But how do you know if you're doing a good job? Do you have regular meetings with your manager? Like what does that come from?
Anaïs: Yeah we do have one-on-ones with our head of design on a monthly basis. When you start a Doist, you have a three-month trial period and you're having one-on-one with a mentor on a weekly basis so you can get a better sense of what's going on and also you can get a little bit of that feedback early on. But, after that it's usually more about the head asking me what can I do for you? What questions do you have? What do you need to move forward and it's much less about like, I'm gonna tell you how you're doing. Which is also a relationship, I think is kind of unique at most companies and is very valuable and I really like to work that way. I don't need as much feedback on a regular basis. But performance reviews have their use in more of a career building perspective and now we don't really have a system in place for that that actually are, Doist is working on that right now and working on a career path system. And I think those will include something more like a performance review where you can kind of talk about your current role and what you want your future role to be and what you should be doing to achieve that.
Charli: Great, so it sounds like the company is investing in you and like making sure that your careers are going where you want them to. What are some of the main challenges you face in your role? Maybe there was a lot at the start because it's always hard to start a new job but how about now, what are the main challenges you're facing?
Stephen: I think the biggest challenge is communication. Just like, because of the remote environment and the timezones, you have to be very intentional and thoughtful about the way you're communicating. And when not everyone recognizes that or has time to focus on communication as a priority, it can strain the progress of a project because like I'm working on this, I need your feedback and you can't get back to me for three days because of the timezones and things like it can just really slow things down. We're all as a company I think working on better ways to communicate and document information and just keep things organized. So that's the biggest one for me as an individual as well working on how to communicate better. For instance yesterday I had my first ever like in person video conversation with one of our illustrators. Like we've worked together on multiple projects and I've given him feedback and he's shared, worked with me and I've made a lot of requests from him but we've never had a personal interaction.
Stephen: So that's not, I think that's understood that that's okay and there's nothing wrong with that. But for me I really like being able to have a sort of that personal connection, it makes me feel better about the things that I'm asking of you, that I'm not like demanding stuff from you or we have a relationship as humans.
Anaïs: Yeah, it gives you a better sense of how they might react on the other side if you met him.
Stephen: Yeah, when it's all written it's--
Charli: It's hard to understand tone if you've never heard someone talk as well.
Anaïs: Exactly. Yeah, I would say also communication. Although I would say I feel like communication is kind of a cliche challenge of a remote team and I think we do a really good job with communication. It's just like communication's always a challenge, no matter the setting. And for me it's been like, where like I'm working on a project and I want to make sure that I get to a good ending point at the end of the day, so I can share with the rest of my squad. Especially on my current project because the rest of the squad in either in Asia or New York and so by the time I go to bed they're gonna wake up and they're gonna start working on things and if I didn't share anything, they might sit a whole day without doing anything based on my designs because I didn't share it. And so I want to make sure that they have enough to work on while I'm asleep.
Stephen: Another thing is an important or unique thing about we do marketing design also is this concept of a design hero. Which is role that we cycle through each month, one of the designers, product designer as well, doesn't work on a feature Do or a marketing Do, but they're the design hero which means they sort of like fill in the gaps, like the little things that need to get done, whether it's little bug fixes and UI tweaks or the social media graphics that kind of thing is something that the hero does. So that's my role this month right now and it's been challenging to balance sort of the one-off little requests that come in from the hero, the brand stuff which we're working through the hero right now. And then also like you're kind of working a little bit on your previous Do, stuff that like didn't get finished or implementing, in this case I did the design but now the illustration's being worked on. So I need to incorporate that and share that with the developer. Then I'm giving input on like my next Do and the scoping for that. So like balancing those priorities is I think, or for me at least it's a challenge.
Charli: That kind of sounds like the design version of being, you know like engineers being on call for a week, for if the app goes down over the weekend. That's like you have to fill in all the stuff that, I mean let's be honest, no one really loves making social media images but it's like a thing that has to get done and so the hero is the one that steps in and does it. I like that way of splitting it up.
Anaïs: I think that it might have been inspired of how the app teams do it because they also have their own hero. But yeah I like it. It's funny, you'd think that would be the easier Do that you have to do, because it's just one-offs. But Stephen and I take things too seriously and so. When I did my design hero Do, I ended up rethinking the whole guidelines around how we do our social images and like really go into that Do. Like one of the styles that we use, what are the different typeface, what are the different colors? And now that Stephen is the design hero he's taking that on to a deeper level and how should we consider the colors for Doist versus the color for Todoist and Twist. So we ended up using that Do as a bigger marketing design thinking I guess.
Stephen: It's really important for the reason is that like those are brand applications that are being created by non-marketing designers. Next month it's not gonna be one of us who's the hero. So we need to establish those styles and document them in a way that is understandable for the other people that work on it, so they have the autonomy to create those whatever it is with confidence that it's going to be consistent with like the standards that we put in place.
Charli: Is there anything else that, I don't know like I never would have thought to ask about that 'cause I've never heard of that happening before with the design team. Is there any other cool little things to do with design at Doist that you want to share?
Stephen: Well something like this, this is not like a formal thing but something that is allowed here which I love, is that Anaïs and I both like write code and submit pull requests for the projects that we're working on.
Anaïs: Mostly Stephen. I understand some of the code and I tweak it, that's what I do.
Stephen: I love like writing code and using it as a design medium, but like feeling like my role is a designer so like that's not gonna be my part, I'm not gonna have a say in that. But like one of our marketing developers reached out to me. It was like, it seems like you know what you're talking about, like would you like to write code? Instead of telling me that this should be one rem of spacing, would you like to just do it yourself and send that to me? And I was like, I would love that. So that's sort of like flexibility is really amazing--
Anaïs: Yeah, because as a designer I'm sure you know when the developers has built a website and you're like it's great, but there's all these little things that were not exactly as in my mock-up and it looks okay, but it would look so much better if the spacing was just a little bigger. I know for me I've always had a sense of guilt asking them for all these very nitpicky details and they have to go back and so, I think that solution where we can just go and do that ourselves is making it so much easier on them and less of a guilt trip for me.
Charli: Yeah, I think that's just a really good skill in general for designers to learn. Because it's kind of like learning the language that your design will be communicated in, you know. And if you can speak, even if you don't code yourself, even if you can speak the same language to the developer and be able to say one rem of space, you know and know what that means that's my hot take on the matter. Let's end by talking about your favorite parts of your job. I feel like we've touched on a lot in this episode of things you love about your job as marketing designers at Doist, but anyone thing in particular else you want to call out before we end?
Anaïs: So, for me design is finding visual solutions to various communication problems or sometimes bigger business problems or user experience problems. And so I really like to think about what's the best solution and often Stephen touched on it a little bit on the in agencies, you don't have a lot of time to think about these things or question the way we're doing things if there's a better way to do it. And so at Doist we, because everything's so open and communication is so transparent and everybody's so collaborative. As a designer you have a lot more opportunities to share your opinion, share your ideas, propose something completely different that nobody had thought of. And those ideas will actually be considered and if it's a good idea we'll actually work on it and build it. One example is we have these Getting Started guides that we do on the help center and I found that they were a little difficult to go through and not really a great introduction to how our products works and how simple it is and I just wanted to think of a better solution. So I just went ahead and did some wire frames, just kind of explored that idea and shared it with the team. And the team was like, oh yeah, we should definitely do something like that and think about that. Because I shared that, now we're thinking about that project differently and we're gonna make it more of a design exploration that we originally thought we would. So that's maybe my favorite part.
Charli: I love that. So the company gives you the autonomy to suggest ideas like that and to, yeah, empowers you to make the happen, cool.
Anaïs: Yeah, exactly.
Charli: Stephen, what about you?
Stephen: The same. But something actually when we were working on preparing for this interview, like Anaïs was like a good design is a priority at the company. And yeah, that's definitely true that we're like a design led, I don't know if this like a formal thing that we claim, but like it's definitely true in our practice that both in the product and the marketing stuff that like we understand the value of design and how that affects our goals and the way people interact with what we're creating.
Anaïs: Yeah, this is something that is such a difference between working in other in house environments, where I feel like design team usually tend to clash with the marketing team because they seem to have different objectives and the marketing team just wants a big button because it's gonna be obvious. And the design team wants a tiny button because it's so much more elegant. And we don't really have these conversations. As designers we understand that things need to be easy to see and easy to click and also accessible and all that stuff. So marketing doesn't have to tell us to make things bigger.
Charli: Right, like you can spend your energy on other problems like bigger more important problems than like internally having these debates or having to fight for your like your practice to be valid, I love that. Cool.
Stephen: Big battle's like what design tool we use?
Charli: Sketch verse Figma. I will definitely be following up to see how that one ends because I'm very curious and I'm sure that our listeners will be as well. Thank you for being on the show you two, I've really enjoyed hearing how things work and definitely picked up some things I think that I wanna bring in and apply to my work as, even though I am a solo design team. Do you wanna tell the people where they can follow you online or keep up with your work? Anything to pitch?
Anaïs: I don't know I'm not really good at that stuff.
Stephen: Try Twist.
Charli: That's all you want to pitch great.
Anaïs: Yes, I love that.
Charli: Okay, how about then I will put links to some social media for you in the description, people can follow check out your work there. Yeah, thank you for being on the show.
Anaïs: Thank you so much.
Stephen: Thank you Charli for having us.
Charli: I hope you enjoyed listening to that conversation. This one was a really interesting one for me because it sounds like Doist really has this remote work thing nailed. All the asynchronous communication, the team structure and organization, the way they do things with the Do objectives and their design hero. They've got a lot of systems in place, but the systems all sound like they really free the designers up to focus on the important things and get the work done. So, a huge thank you to Stephen and Anaïs for sharing all that with us and thanks to you as well for listening to this show. If you enjoyed the episode I would really love if you would take the time to go on over to Apple Podcasts and leave us a review. This show, as I say every week is available in both video and audio format. Videos can be found on my YouTube channel CharliMarieTV. And the audio, the podcast can be found in whatever podcasting app you use. Open it up search for Inside Marketing Design or head on over to InsideMarketingDesign.co and you will find links to the major podcast players there. Thanks for being here and I'll see you again next week for another look inside marketing design at a different tech company.
Rate it on Apple podcasts or tell your friends to listen!
Learn how the Web Platform & Presence team at Stripe create "surprisingly great" web designs, from Staff Designer Tatiana van Campenhout.