Buildkite is a tool used by the world’s biggest software teams like Uber, Airbnb and Canva to securely test and deploy their code. I led the design team as the company scaled, helping build human-friendly solutions to tough technical problems.
My role at Buildkite was to build Design into a high-performing asset of the business — I did that by building creative strategy, establishing effective team processes and producing visual work that helped us scale our product footprint.
Team time! Direct link
Great design doesn’t happen in isolation. To unlock success in our small but extremely capable creative team, I created a variety of tools and processes that helped the team communicate and collaborate more effectivety. Importantly, I worked hard to prioritize creativity and professional development. Ultimately, I ended up writing a heap...
Design tools Direct link
I created the Design System (BKUI), documentation and associated UI Kits that helped designers and their PMs operate at scale while remaining hyper-consistent in style and execution. I also worked with front-end groups to see this through to production code — giving teams the ability to work fast while keeping quality high.
Creative direction Direct link
In more hands-on work, my responsibility was to set strategy and visual tone for the product — and use a combination of business goals, market research and integration with the brand teams to evolve the product.
I had a key role in producing the visual direction for key initiatives, new products, and features that had a dramatic impact on the business and foundations that set the company up for future success. Here are some of the areas where my work had the biggest impact:
Sure, information architecture isn’t traditionally sexy… but it’s a necessary part of scaling an app across multiple products and features. To alleviate these pressures of scale, I designed a new navigation structure, plus some new interaction patterns that helped customers customize and find their work.
Modern engineering teams have a high bar of expectation when it comes to the tools they use. With this, creating a modern and unique visual language was a high priority — this involved evolving colours, UI foundations (like shadows) and core elements, and relied heavily on the design systems I created. Feedback like this was validaing, and “the UI” was often a the reason for Buildkite closing enterprise deals.
“The UI is one of the best things about Buildkite.”
It’s no secret that accessible and inclusive practices benefit everyone, but for a developer-bias organization, this is especially true — where vision impairments and neurodiversity among our customers far exceed population averages. At its core Buildkite had built a reliance on color alone to convey meaning, green being good, red bad — so evolving a UI to allow for broader usage was a big priority for me.
Above/ The before-and-after demonstrates how attention to colour and iconography had a huge impact — we heard from a number of colourblind and visually impaired customers whose day-to-day was significantly improved by the change.
Feature work Direct link
Working with the above, my featue work focussed on several core strategies that underpin all the work — to unblock engineers, to surface context and to provide insight into the work that flows through Buildkite.
Although a technical product, the real value of the tool is in helping customers be successful in their jobs. Tools and features that help teams identify problems in their code and quickly narrow down on solutions have been a guiding strategy for a number of the filtering and organizational initiatives I’ve worked on:
Understanding how one thing relates to another is a big part of engineers building efficient and performant systems. This guided work that provided different ways for customers to see their code and understand the flow of information better:
Instead of reacting to problems as they arise, I enjoyed working on features that improved customer efficiency by surfacing trends and building insight into their data. Helping customers make more informed decisions was a powerful way to prove the effectiveness of the tool: