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Some members of the Singapore UX team.

Shopify’s new UX team in Asia is finding new ways to help merchants succeed

Aditi Kulkarni is a UX manager from our Singapore team. We sat down with her to learn more about Shopify’s focus in that part of Asia and what the UX team hopes to accomplish in the coming year.

Your team is very new. Can you talk about some of the first things that you’re working on?

We’re part of the international growth team, so our goal is to help merchants internationally. We started off in Q4 of last year, so Q1 was the first quarter that we started shipping things and figuring out what we want to work on.

We’re…


The book cover for Senongo Akpem’s Cross-cultural design.
The book cover for Senongo Akpem’s Cross-cultural design.

A conversation with designer Senongo Akpem

Senongo Akpem is the author of Cross-cultural design, a book that shares how to design for the needs, perspectives, and expectations of multicultural audiences. He spoke to the Shopify UX team earlier this month about the principles he shares in the book. We took the opportunity to ask him a few questions about the lessons and best practices of cross-cultural design.

You can learn more about Senongo and his work at senongo.net. This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

What are some misconceptions that people have about cross-cultural design?

The first thing that people struggle with is why…


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Posters from Shopify’s first brand campaign.

As Shopify’s design language evolved, so did our thinking about voice and tone

Last month, the voice and tone guidelines in Polaris were given a significant update. We sat down with senior staff content strategist Clay Delk to learn more about the changes and why the team decided to make them. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

What prompted the update to Shopify’s voice and tone guidelines?

Last year, as part of our first brand campaign, I worked with a group of designers and illustrators on Shopify’s “design language”. Looking at new visual styles and illustrations, we naturally started to think about tone. So, for example, I took the work…


A photo of the Buick Y Job concept car on a clear background.
A photo of the Buick Y Job concept car on a clear background.
The Buick Y job concept car.

Add a flying carpet to your next skateboard MVP

This post is adapted with permission from a talk given by UX director Kyle Peatt.

Dreams let us to build a vision for the future. But how can design teams drive toward future software improvements while still getting things done in the present?

The car industry asked this same question almost a century ago. Their solution was the concept car. The only problem? You immediately picture this:

The Homer has two bubble domes, one in the back with muzzles for your kids. An engine that sounds like “the world is going to end.” Three horns! And each plays La…


A person tapping the screen on Shopify’s new point of sale app.
A person tapping the screen on Shopify’s new point of sale app.
The new Shopify Point of Sale app.

How Polaris for Retail lays the foundation for Shopify’s new POS app

UX manager Ricardo Vazquez and staff product designer Tobias Negele are responsible for building one of the first “local systems” of our Polaris design system, known as Polaris for Retail. We spoke to them about the experience of developing Polaris for Retail, including the recently published selling in person guidelines. The results of their work can be seen in the new Point of Sale app that was released this week. The conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.

You both work on Shopify’s Foundations Retail team. Can you talk a little bit about what that involves?

Ricardo: The Foundations team…


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How the team is designing the new employee experience on-the-fly

COVID-19 has upended almost every aspect of our lives, and how we work is no different. In this post, we speak with Mandira Midha, design manager for our culture design team, about how her team is rethinking the employee experience for an all-remote workforce.

This conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.

What does the culture design team at Shopify do? Can you give some examples of major projects that you’ve worked on?

Our mission is to help build an environment that allows people to grow, develop, and do their best work. We’re trying to create amazing employee experiences…


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A conversation with senior members of the Polaris team

On January 31, we held an hour-long conversation with members of the Polaris team, where the team answered more than 20 questions about our design system. The complete video of the conversation is below, along with a list of the individual questions timestamped to where you’ll find them in the video.

There were also many (many!) questions that we didn’t have time to answer, so we followed up with members of the Polaris team and they’ve provided answers below.

The panel was hosted by UX director Amy Thibodeau, along with people responsible for building and maintaining Polaris: — Yesenia Perez-Cruz…


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Why the research team at Shopify decided to pause conducting primary research

COVID-19 has upended almost every aspect of our lives, and how we work is no different. In this post, we speak with Ariel Chernin (Market research manager) and Cassie Kaiser (Senior UX research manager for our Platform team) about Shopify’s recent decision to pause contacting Shopify businesses with any type of research requests, and how that’s changing how our research team gains insights and does their work.

This conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Where did the idea for pausing primary research start? And what does it mean that Shopify is not doing right now?

Ariel: Over the…


How one designer countered the crisis and found a sense of community by helping the people of Wuhan

Shuting Chang is a senior product designer on our App Infrastructure team, working to improve the experience of how developers create apps for Shopify. Every February, she normally goes to China to visit her family in the city of Dalian for Chinese New Year celebrations. This year travel restrictions made that impossible, but an open source community gave her a way to use her design skills to help the people of Wuhan.

Tell us about the Wuhan 2020 community and how you discovered it.

When the virus situation started in China, I was still hopeful that I could travel back…


Vivianne Castillo speaking at a podium at the Shopify Montreal office.
Vivianne Castillo speaking at a podium at the Shopify Montreal office.
Vivianne Castillo speaking to the Shopify UX team in our Montreal office. Photo credit: Maxime Vaillancourt.

A conversation with Vivianne Castillo

Vivianne is a speaker and UX researcher with 7 years of psychology and research experience spanning multiple contexts, cultures, and industries. Prior to becoming a UX researcher, she worked primarily in the arenas of trauma counseling, tackling issues like shame, empathy, vulnerability, and compassion. You can find her writing at medium.com/@viviannecastillo.

You gave a talk last year at the Strive UXR conference in Toronto called The Siren Call of Self-Neglect. Do you think there is something about working in UX that encourages self-neglect?

Just by how we talk about UX, it’s often this heavy focus on other people, whether it…

Gene Shannon

Managing editor for the Shopify UX team.

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