Photo by Alice Achterhof on Unsplash

A cross-team design system can only flourish if people from outside the systems team are properly equipped to participate and contribute to the system.

These contributions can take different formats: suggestions, feedback, bug reports, proposals for new components, etc. — and you should be ready for them as soon as you kickstart your design system.

Be ready from the start

I’ve never heard of a design system team that isn’t strapped for time, so my guess is that if people from outside the team have the time and disposition to contribute, you better be ready for them.

Start planning for this from the beginning —…

Photo by Lonely Planet on Unsplash

Since starting 5th Grade in Portugal in the 90s, I dread self-evaluations. To this day, every time, I feel I minimise (or just forget!) my achievements — and never guess what “bad stuff” I did (I’ve heard everything, from the classic “be less aggressive” to “eat lunch with your mates” and “learn to let go”).

Blogging and keeping to-do lists makes things a little bit easier, as I can go back and remember what I’ve done for the past 6–12 months by glancing at articles and notes. But it always feels rushed and like I’m missing the bigger picture.


“The New CSS Layout” was released when I was about to embark on the challenge of refactoring an old site to be responsive and have grid support and support for old browsers. Yikes! I wasn’t looking forward to the faff that I assumed this kind of challenge involved, so I was more than pleased to have a book to guide me.

By the time I read the book in preparation for my adventure, I had already watched all of Rachel’s video tutorials, and I still found the book filled in gaps in my knowledge. …

I had the pleasure to attend UX London for the second time last week, and, as with any other Clearleft event, it didn’t disappoint. The speakers, the workshops, the food, and the coffee: 👌🏼

My notes are a bit scattered, as I tried to pay attention to what was being said, and sometimes I forgot to write things down for the whole talk (I’m sorry, speakers). They are imperfect, made mainly for me, but here they are.

Aarron Walter (@aarron), “Story First”

  • Data stays in our head, but not as long as a story does
  • When you have clarity about the broad vision you can…

It’s common knowledge that your side projects and open source contributions can be the key to landing your next job. But when hiring for diversity, this can be a problem.

I was watching Brenna O’Brien’s video The myth of the “Real JavaScript Developer” when she said something that piqued my interest: the fact that we shouldn’t expect developers to code all day.

Amongst other points, Brenna mentions the example of Nicolle Sullivan, who, after having a child, reconsidered the normal practice of looking at a candidate’s open source contributions when hiring — not everyone has the ability or will to…

Knowing whether a candidate is right for a role isn’t straight forward. Jobs are different, teams work differently, and assessing someone’s ability to adapt to a different set of circumstances can feel like an impossible task.

I’m not particularly fond of design exercises. They can easily feel like spec work, especially when the recruiter’s expectations aren’t clearly set. Are you expected to work on an answer for 30 minutes, 2 hours, a week?

The subjectivity of the process in contrast with the typical engineering hiring process also bothers me. How do you tell a correct answer from an incorrect one?

Those who know me know I’m not a fan of surprises — I choose my Christmas and birthday presents. And this year was not an exception. But nevertheless, my husband, as the risk-seeker that he is, took the bold step of gifting me something I hadn’t previously approved, but that he sensed would be just my cup of tea.

He wasn’t wrong. Since I opened my book-shaped present on Christmas Eve I haven’t been able to put Sara Wachter-Boettcher’s “Technicaly Wrong” down.

Unputdownable, they say.

Somehow, I had missed this book’s publication, which is very odd as I follow people…

As I consider a move away from having my blog separate from my namesake domain, something dawned on me: my blog is called Web Designer Notebook, but is that name still accurate? How many of us still call ourselves web designers?

Recently I advised a friend looking for a new job to not only search for the term “web designer” but also “product designer”, as that describes what many companies are looking for today. She did find more job ads.

So the question is twofold: is there a point in keeping a blog as a separate entity of the portfolio site (ignoring the unwelcome task of merging Kirby and WordPress); and is Web Designer Notebook a good name for it anyway?

Originally published at on January 4, 2018.

Design systems are hot right now. Every big company has one and each new release or update is flaunted in style. You’d be justified to think you need one too. But do you?

Before we move on any further, here is a definition of what a design system is that I like:

Almost always, a design system offers a library of visual style and components documented and released as reusable code for developers and/or tool(s) for designers. A system may also offer guidance on accessibility, page layout, and editorial and less often branding, data viz, UX patterns, and other tools.

Last month the web team ran its first design sprint as outlined in The Sprint Book, by Google Ventures’ Jake Knapp. Some of us had read the book recently and really wanted to give the method a try, following the book to the letter.

In this post I will outline what we’ve learned from our pilot design sprint, what went well, what could have gone better, and what happened during the five sprint days. I won’t go into too much detail about explaining what each step of the design sprint consists of — for that you have the book. …

Inayaili de León

Senior Designer @ Microsoft. Design Systems & Design Ops. Love podcasts, cats, Earl Grey, & London.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store