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Vivienne Kay on stage at Shopify UX Summit 2018

All year long, our industry plays host to a broad array of conferences, retreats, and meetups. As driven professionals, we flock to venues around the world to connect with the community, get exposure to thought leaders, and feed our sense of identity through the presence of like-minded individuals. We readily accept the cost of admission, travel, and accommodations because, quite frankly, this still feels like the best way to learn and grow. Seeking expertise from outside our own walls has simply become the default approach.

Four years ago though, in an effort to evolve our summer retreats for our rapidly…

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Today we’re excited to unveil the newly redesigned navigation for the Kit Dashboard. This is the first of a few major updates to the Dashboard that focus on making the experience of working with Kit friendlier and easier.

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Said my brother, late one evening as I picked him up from the station. He had asked how my work was going, and I, having freelanced for a little over a year by then, naively explained that it was going well, and that I was finally getting comfortable with things.

“Don’t get comfortable.” He looked at me with the same serious conviction that makes him such a good lawyer. “You have the rest of your life after you retire to be comfortable.”

I didn’t think much of it at the time, but this simple philosophy has guided me through some…

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My favourite slide from my onboarding talk to new designers.

As part of Shopify’s onboarding program, I give a talk entitled On Being a Designer to all new designers joining the team. The goal of my talk isn’t to cover everything that a designer needs to know, but simply to cover some fundamentals that will help them hit the ground running.

One of the most important things I talk about is the responsibility of being a designer. As a designer, there are two scopes to think about when it comes to your responsibility: your role as a Designer and your role as a Shopifier (i.e. a member of the company).

Lessons from my latest obsession

I’ve always wanted to get into photography. As a designer, it’s a natural extension of my work. As a creative, it’s another medium for storytelling. And yet, for whatever reason, I’ve never really gotten into it. Until now.

Over the last month, I’ve put a considerable amount of energy into learning photography. My goal: scratch a new creative itch and start developing some truths on photography. Starting with mobile photography was a conscious effort to focus on the fundamentals — composition, lighting, editing, storytelling — before worrying about the hardware. …

Two must-haves for every design team

One of the main responsibilities I have is to build a high performing and effective design team. In the past, I’ve written and spoken about doing this through hiring and promoting effectively, developing individuals to be better designers, streamlining process to work more efficiently, and building robust design practices to stay resilient.

I’ve covered most of these topics in broad strokes but I wanted to focus on some of the more nuanced habits and routines that make them up. …

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I used to sketch and doodle a lot more. Just because.

When I was a kid, I used to sketch and doodle for hours on-end for absolutely no reason. No intent. No purpose. And if I were to ask my younger self why I was doing what I was doing, I’d probably answer “just because”.

And yet, if you asked me to do the same today, I’d be more inclined to ask you for a reason or objective. As if the idea of doing something for the sake of doing it was so unproductive that I couldn’t fathom why I’d bother. …

Or why “UX Designer” makes no sense to me

Alright, where was I? Ah, right. I started by demystifying design by proposing a better definition for this now broadly used and often misunderstood term.

As it turns out, User Experience, or UX, carries with it the same weight of growing increasingly more popular and integrated into our everyday vocabulary. And with that comes greater responsibility to better understand exactly what it means.

Back in November, I tweeted this:

I’m just gonna say it. “UX Designer” as a title inaccurately isolates the responsibilities of “UX” to just designers.

This was followed by 2 more tweets

Because you’re doing it wrong

Process is not inherently a sexy idea. You might even say it has a bad rap.

Its counter-culture, the “hackers” and those who like to “do it live”, often associate process with bureaucracy, slow decision-making, and assembly line-like production. However, if you subscribe to this school of thought, I’d like to make the argument that you just might be doing it wrong.

Let me start by dispelling a few common beliefs around what process is (and isn’t).

Process is not:

  • More time invested The most common argument I’ve heard against process is “we need to move quickly”. This comes from the underlying belief…

A definition we can all understand

Something interesting and exciting happened in the last 5 years. People started noticing design. Not that the world was unaware of design as a discipline previously, but people — or moreso, businesses — started paying more attention to design and started to understand it as a differentiator. We started seeing greater demand for talented designers, heightened interest to integrate design process into product build cycles, and overall, stronger investment into design as a critical ingredient of success. As designers, this is exactly what we’ve always hoped for.

But in a time where it seems like…

Verne Ho

Director of UX at @Shopify. Pretend photographer. More at

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