No. Stop pretending to be a doctor on social media and wash your hands thoroughly. Here’s an instruction video:


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Photo: KML / Pexels

In my daily practice I have noticed that design systems are often misunderstood, because they’re mostly not about design. What starts as a mission to unify the design language across products usually ends up a large cross-disciplinary initiative, or — in cases of larger teams — a dedicated design tooling or design ops team.

This stems from the fact that most of the work when creating a good design system is making sure you’re building a language that creates shared understanding and shared language for product teams. What good is a design system that nobody outside the dedicated design team uses? Probably not good. Design systems, depending on dedication of people leading the charge, tend to eventually end up in two places — one is almost-useless artifact of design that has nothing to do with the actual product development, the other is the ultimate tool for breaking the silos. …


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Photo from Pixabay

For as long as I remember, there’s always been a lot of discussion about the design process in the design community: Should we do wireframes? Are detailed UI designs a waste of time? Is building a UI kit up front a good idea? Should designers code? After following the discussions for a while and battle-testing it with many different teams and settings I worked with, I can only tell one thing — my process is from now on going to be as little process as possible.

What my usual project is in 2019

In my current setup, my projects are mostly a very broad user experience projects that might also include a bunch of branding or visual identity work. Over the last couple of years my usual client was either a startup or a mid-sized company that is looking to put some structure on their design and product processes until everything gets out of hand. Obviously, the process I use is very malleable and adapted to the needs of the team I work with and it will vary for you as well, this post is just supposed to maybe give you a bunch of ideas for how you can put some structure around your work. I would wholeheartedly recommend not copying what works for me straight up because every person works differently and what works for me might not work for you. …


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Photo: Pixabay

This post was originally posted on my blog.

I started my career almost fifteen years ago (gasp!) and for almost a decade now I've been collecting lessons on leadership — from managing teams myself as well as from observing clients, bosses and managers that I worked with. Over the years, in the spirit of learning, I kept writing down down examples of good and bad leadership, looking for patterns and things that I need to watch out for when working with people. …


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Photo: mouse-driver on Pixabay

It’s been almost fifteen years since I started doing design. I’ve been through all of it: from the job title being Webmaster and the job being basically “do everything from design, through development, to managing our server” all the way down to managing a design team at a company and mentoring other designers. Especially in the second part of the work, I’ve noticed that no matter if I worked on the marketing side or the product side, there are a couple of things that usually come up when trying to set up a KPI- or OKR-based process, so I’ve been taking careful notes that are summarized in this post. …


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Design systems are definitely the thing now, but they’re often equated with having large design and development teams that needed ways to scale design while keeping everything consistent. My professional experience is mostly with smaller product teams, like Lifetramp, anynines or Lilt, and it shows me that small teams can benefit from having a design system from the beginning too. Here’s a couple of reasons why.

Rapid prototyping

We all know about Lean Startup and that you’re supposed to push ideas to your customers as quickly as possible, learn from them and iterate, right? Exactly. While having a design system (or a proper, well thought out UI framework, for that matter) is an initial investment, nothing screams speed of development more than being able to literally connect a bunch of ready-made components that already look like they belong in the interface and push it out to testing. …


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Photo by Reymark Franke, via StockSnap

Disclaimer: I am absolutely aware of amount of privilege that allows me to take breaks during the day or even go to bed whenever I wish. If you can follow my little guide, you better be aware of it, too.

As I write this, I’m about halfway through the program I set for myself to get back in shape of running 5km three times a week. I haven’t been running since high school and it’s not easy getting back. The fact that I’m about 15kg heavier than my ideal weight probably doesn’t help either. Apart from that, I thought I’ll share the steps I took to get to this point, without sounding too much like a motivational speaker. Ready? …


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Photo courtesy of Aleksandar Spasojevic (via Pexels)

A while ago, I completely stopped buying eBooks. It has to do with me trying to slowly but surely move towards more mindful approach to living and to buying and owning things. No matter how weird and conservative it might sound, it makes sense. Let me explain why.

Real Books Don’t Need Airplane Mode

I used to read eBooks on my phone and my tablet a lot, but I got distracted by notifications a lot. By now I’m pretty sure we all agree that multitasking is bad for you and makes your brain into a mush, and that just the presence of your smartphone nearby can lower your brain’s processing power. I found that even with airplane mode on on my tablet or my phone, I still kept looking at other things once I got tired of reading — and I got tired of reading pretty quickly, since reading non-fiction books can get pretty boring. On the other hand, once I switched away from reading the book, I felt this gnawing guilt of wasting my time on random stuff while I was supposed to be reading. Reading can be boring, yes, but boredom is great for creativity and you have to be bored, because science. Therefore, I recommend to develop a habit of leaving all your devices in other room, bringing a book to a dedicated reading spot and reading through as much as you feel like. Then, simply reflect on what you read and get back to whatever you were doing. …


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Recently I talked with a friend about new year’s goals and resolutions and how it’s often hard to keep them and we ended up discussing how we set and manage goals in general and why I ended up going all out Google on this one and using OKR for my personal development.

OK…what?

If you’re interested in product management or have been following the social media recently, you might have heard about OKRs already. They were developed by Intel and popularized by Google to align teams, set and review goals. A while ago, I learned about them from Adam, my co-founder at Lifetramp, and first dismissed them as a very corporate and uncreative way of doing things. …


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Photo by Zachary Staines on StockSnap: https://stocksnap.io/photo/BKYKF373YG

Did you ever ask yourself this question? What makes you wake up in the morning, dress up and go to work? What would make you excited to wake up in the morning, dress up and do go to work? Surprisingly, a lot of people I know don’t have a clear answer to this question and — like we all—spend a lot of time doing work.

At the time of writing this I’m 32, married and living in Berlin: a city that’s still relatively cheap for Western Europe, but getting more expensive every day, as it turns from the cheap and artsy underdog into a bustling metropolis everyone wants to live in. I’m over ten years in the business and went from freelance to agency to product and over again multiple times. …

About

Mariusz Ciesla

Design generalist, almost-a-developer, tinkerer. I break stuff a lot. Co-founded Lifetramp.com in a past life.

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