A simple guide for design system teams.

By Carlos Yllobre Aleman, Senior Product Designer, Workday

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The first time I heard about systems thinking was back in 2017 when my team and I started building a more complex library of components to serve developers when they updated our product. That first attempt would evolve into what we know today as a design system, but the real change didn’t come with the outcome. Instead, it came with the learning path that opened a door to a new and more rational way of approaching problems with many touchpoints in common with other methodologies, like design thinking.

With the arrival and evolution of design systems, we discovered a new way of approaching business, engineering, and design problems. Before I talk about the how, let’s talk about the what. …


Part 2 on how a priority guide can add value at any point in the design process

By Simone Ehrlich, Content Strategy Manager

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Illustration by Vichai Iamsirithanakorn

Redesigns are easy, right? Just glance at the page, and it’s instantly clear what should stay and what should go. Far from it. The beauty and risk in design is that inherent in any page are a thousand small decisions. All these add up to an efficient, delightful experience, or degrade it until it’s a broken, incoherent mess.

A priority guide has the potential to inform your decision-making. At Workday, this is one of our Content Early methods, which we use at any time during the design process. We use priority guides to design, in the manner of content first, before ever opening a Figma file. We also use them to bring fresh perspective if we’ve already started a design. …


Part 1 on how infusing intent into a priority guide is a catalyst for effective design

By Simone Ehrlich, Content Strategy Manager

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Illustrations by Vichai Iamsirithanakorn

Nothing sharpens our sense of priorities like a crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly thrown my personal priorities into sharp relief. The goal is to get through this. My priorities, in order, are my family, my team at Workday, and my community.

It shouldn’t take a crisis, however, for you to know your goal and priorities. In design, knowing both is key to success. A priority guide is a design tool that helps to establish the goal for a page and what should go on the page to serve that goal. …


A case for a design-led asynchronous communication evolution.

Written and illustrated by Jonathan Keyek-Franssen, Product Designer at Workday

A cartoon of the emotional drain caused by zoom fatigue
A cartoon of the emotional drain caused by zoom fatigue

Most information has no perfect channel to be passed through–social media posts are good for advertising, but so are TV spots. Podcasts are good for storytelling, but so are novels. And, as it turns out, repetitive, expensive, and synchronous meetings are good for getting slack messages like this:


Canvas, Workday’s design system, enhances user experiences through promoting accessible design and code accessibility.

By Michael Blume, William Stanton, and Justin Panté

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Illustration by Chris King

Accessibility often represents the difference between a usable website and an indecipherable mess for people with disabilities. This is all the more important because of the recent need and desire to work from home; Gallup reports that in 2012, 29% of American employees worked remotely at least some of the time, but by 2016 that number grew to 43%. Despite this growing trend in remote work, the number of accessibility issues in web applications continues to slowly increase. …


By Carlos Yllobre Aleman, Senior Product Designer, Workday

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Images by Carlos Yllobre Aleman

Building a system is not an easy task, but it is an enjoyable one. Discovering connections, creating new ones, improving the parts, and seeing the whole evolve in shape and purpose are some of the things that make it such an interesting project to work on.

In her incredible book, “Thinking in Systems,” Donella Meadows mentions that there are 3 fundamental ideas that apply to a system: its pieces, the connections between these pieces and the purpose of the system.

I will cover the first 2 ideas and share a successful way to identify the parts of a system and understand how they are connected. I am talking about building a Design System Map or System Taxonomy. …


Workday has made strides baking accessibility into our products, starting with design. See what we’ve accomplished and where we’re going.

By Erica Ellis, Emma Siegel, and Sam Smith

Illustration of baking supplies including boxes of research, education and design reviews
Illustration of baking supplies including boxes of research, education and design reviews
Illustration by Emma Siegel

Digital accessibility is often seen as an afterthought, something that is added in by development just before a product ships. However, true accessibility — an experience that is usable by everyone — begins in the design stages of the product development process. Workday has begun to make strides in reversing the afterthought mentality. We’re baking accessibility into the way we approach building our products, starting with design.

How are we doing that? We’ll share with…


By Stephen Ó Mathúna, UX Researcher at Workday

Hands placing cards onto a game board
Hands placing cards onto a game board
Image by Michael O’Loughlin

As a UX Researcher, developing empathy for users is my stock-in-trade. I’m expected to be the voice of the user in conversations with strategists, product managers, developers, and other stakeholders on the subjects of new features, enhancements, and so on. But there’s a limitation here: I can only be in so many conversations with so many people. Products get built whether I’m there or not. So my task as a researcher is not only to develop empathy with my users; I must imbue that same empathy in everyone who touches the product.

Researchers can use various techniques to build this empathy bridge: we bring stakeholders to live research sessions so they can witness the experiences of the user firsthand, we cut highlight reels from usability test sessions to give weight to their recommendations, and we develop persona artifacts to help others relate to the user. …


Shouldn’t everything in a wireframe have a purpose? Infuse intent into your designs with using a wireframe with no content, just intentions.

By Simone Ehrlich, Content Strategy Manager

Illustration of a woman imagining an intent frame
Illustration of a woman imagining an intent frame
Illustration by Vichai Iamsirithanakorn

Ever wandered through a house and encountered a closet too small to be useful or a wall that divided the space oddly, and wondered, “Who designed this, and what were they thinking?” Now consider, do your users wonder the same thing about the product you designed? 😱

If you’ve had the experience of designing a wireframe only to later discover that you didn’t need some of the elements in it, you saved your users from that “what’s-with-this-closet” feeling. Considering content early, often, and always can ensure you’re thinking ahead.

By content, I mean information, not just text. Good design considers the user’s information and interaction needs simultaneously. It is design with purpose. It is UX with intent. Enter the intent frame, which is basically a wireframe with intent. …


By Simone Ehrlich, Content Strategy Manager

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Illustration by Vichai Iamsirithanakorn

Words are cheap. Cheaper than wires; cheaper than mocks. That doesn’t mean words aren’t important, just less expensive to produce as a design asset. So aligning around words has the potential to save time and resources. Enter Content Early, a riff on designing Content First.

Content First, the idea that we can design with words before we ever open a tool like Sketch or Figma, is a hot topic right now, and I’m a huge fan of it. Full stop. Let me repeat — I really love the idea of Content First. However, placing something first implies that something else necessarily comes second. …

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