One of our design studio workshops: An afternoon of collaborative design.

What does a designer do at a developer company?

Malin Sofrone
Jan 14, 2018 · 3 min read

What does a designer do at a company that offers developer-focused products and services? APIs, SDKs, CLIs and all that don’t really sound like things designers can help with, right? I had the same questions myself before joining Contentful. I even asked them during my interview.

I’ve discovered that, as long as there there’s a service that’s being used by people, there will always be something to tinker with and improve.

Here are just a few things I’ve worked on during my time at Contentful:

Web application

We have a web application, which is a starting place for many types of users, including developers, authors, managers, etc. There’s a lot interesting work to be done on interactions, patterns, flows or context-based guidance.

Onboarding first time users

We help beginners to make the best of the service and to achieve their goals across multiple touchpoints. This includes flows, understanding user goals and preparing intro videos. I could spend an entire post just talking about the ins and outs of designing the onboarding experience…

Putting design principles to work

Be it in a command line interface, making a practical flow, or helping with phrasing, there are many places where design principles can be put to good use. Check out our command line project.

Facilitating for exploration and discovery

Many problems are too hard to crack alone. Design can help speed things up by bringing people with diverse skillsets together. Take a quick peek inside one of our design studio workshops here.

Helping with and guiding documentation

Documentation is a good place to help people learn, be it developers or authors. There’s a lot going on there, from overarching content structure, to the layout of pages, to helping people quickly find what they need and offering relevant examples. See our docs here.

User research — combining user and business needs

Just like any other service being used by people, there are lots of things to test and adapt to best serve the people using the service. Usability testing is both very simple and very important — to understand user needs, we create journeys, personas, jobs to be done, etc.

Experiments

Lots of things start small, and I really enjoy looking for tiny things that I can test assumptions on. While very different when compared to major redesigns, experiments let you try out small changes that could have a potentially high impact.

Example applications

We offer example applications in eight programming languages — some are used on the web, some on mobile. They need a lot of work in terms of structure, interactions, visual design, integration with other applications, and, last but not least, they need to actually work for the people using them. View one here.

These are, of course, just a few broad examples. As time goes on, I’ve discovered that there’s a certain pleasure to finding things out on my own. View more on Dribbble.

Collaboration

At the end of the day, it all comes down to collaboration. As a team, we solve many issues that none of us could’ve tackled individually. Once you discover the value of communal problem solving, there are fewer limits on what you can achieve.


We’re hiring curious minds

When you’re surrounded by smart people that like to ask questions and solve problems creatively, there’s a lot of potential for professional growth, exploration and hands-on learning. If the above sounds like something you’d be into, Contentful is always looking for curious folks on our careers page.

Contentful Design

Stories from the designers at Contentful

Malin Sofrone

Written by

Product manager and user experience designer. Love to share what I know and learn from others. Into long distance cycling.

Contentful Design

Stories from the designers at Contentful

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