Our Year in Review

In three and a half years at Deliveroo, I’ve stopped trying to predict the future. When I started as the first designer, I thought that the design team would maybe, at some point, get to two or three people, and I’ve been proven wrong many times over in the most wonderful of ways.

Today, the Content, Research & Design team consists of just over 30 people. Mind you, team growth isn’t an objective in itself, and it’s also not a mark of success — but it is a good proxy for considering the evolution of a team and the challenges associated with it.

2017 has been an incredibly exciting year for us. We’ve grown and changed in ways I didn’t think possible, and as the year draws to a close, I wanted to take some time to reflect on the last 12 months and highlight some key areas that have changed.


Team

Team and culture dictate everything else. Without a diverse and exceptional team and a welcoming and inclusive culture, it’s impossible to do good work.

We’ve been fortunate enough to welcome so many amazing new people to our team this year. Our team has doubled from around 14 people to just over 30 people across all disciplines; with just under two-thirds made up of design, one third being researchers, and a small but fast-growing content design discipline spearheaded by the incredible Sarah Richards.

This year, we’ve made some important shifts in our thinking. What was formerly called the Product Design team is now very deliberately called the Content, Research & Design team, or CRD for short. This is part of a conscious effort to reinforce that in our team, we want all disciplines to be equal, working together as true peers. We’re not design-led or research-led — we’re content, research and design-led.

We’ve had people leave the team for the first time — and we’ve made a point in celebrating this openly and positively. While our retention has been pretty strong so far, we work in a fast-moving company where change is the only constant — and it’s natural that as the company evolves, some people move on to different things. I firmly believe that one of the most important things we can do for the content, research and design communities we belong to is to help people do the best work of their careers at Deliveroo. Because when people move on, they can bring the things they’ve learnt here to other companies or even start companies of their own. Simultaneously, we work our hardest to create the opportunities and progression paths for everyone’s next job to be at Deliveroo, and give our fullest support to those who want their next job to be elsewhere. Both should be celebrated and supported.

The single most important thing we can do to ensure that we are and remain a place for people to do the best work of their careers is to keep our standards just as high, and continue to relentlessly invest in our team. Nothing less will do.

Work

One of the things that always strikes people when learning more about Deliveroo is both the depth and breadth of problems and surfaces we work on. From our customer-facing apps through to our rider and restaurant products, and even our internal tooling — the Content, Research & Design team is shaping nearly every aspect of those experiences, and we’ve worked on countless high-impact features and products this year.

This year, our research and design work has not only grown in impact, but also in scope. We’ve run research programmes in places as diverse as Hong Kong and France, Dubai and The Netherlands, and the team has published an excellent write-up around what we’ve learned. Our company may be London-born but we’re global in our footprint, and it’s vital that our research reflects that so we can make better product decisions. We’ve firmly embedded the User Research practice in how the company thinks and makes decisions too, and it’s now a discipline that works with teams across the entire business.

Another highlight is the launch of our UI Infrastructure team, tasked with creating tools and processes that help us design better products, faster. We’ve successfully introduced component libraries that are being quickly adopted across our internal tools and consumer products and have significantly increased the quality and speed with which we can make UI decisions. As we head into 2018, we have some ambitious plans to further work our way up the design process and introduce efficiencies where there’s previously been repetition and churn.

That’s not all, obviously. We’ve launched our Experience Principles, ran and wrote about our first design-wide offsite, and much more than I can mention in this post.

Process

I recently read about “the rule of 3 and 10” — the idea that as a company or team grows, everything changes at roughly every third and tenth step. The things that work for a team of 3 people are very different from what works for a team of 10 people or 30 people. This has been very true for us.

Many things have broken this year as the team has grown, and we’ve learned in the most unimaginable ways.

We must have iterated through three or four ways of doing our team meetings. We tried everything from a weekly show and tell through to an agenda-driven team meeting, and have finally settled on a cadence and structure that feels right for our current size.

We used to be able to do design critiques with the entire team, and it used to be possible (and good) for me to attend. Now, every team has individual crits, including research and content. We’ve introduced new tools to our design process, have seen an increasingly widespread adoption of Framer, and started working with design docs. The way we work today bears virtually no resemblance to what it was 12 months ago.

Our onboarding process for new team members has changed and improved too. Where it was previously possible to simply bring someone on board and have them largely self-organise during their first few weeks, it now takes very intentional processes and playbooks to ensure that it’s both easy for a new team member to get up to speed, and for them to get access to all the tools and systems they need. It’s still not perfect, but it’s markedly better than it was.

We’ve also become more deliberate in creating team-wide visibility of work in progress, such as writing a bi-weekly team-wide update, celebrating important events, communicating business updates and highlighting notable work. We share our work widely and transparently with each other, and regularly do show & tells at our team meetings. In line with the rule of 3 and 10, those things likely won’t suffice in 2018, and I can’t wait to tackle those challenges together with the team.


So, what’s next?

Well, I’ve stopped trying to predict the future. Instead, I try to make educated guesses and guide our focus towards the things I believe will matter — building more ways for everyone to contribute towards how we operate as a team, investing in ways to make us faster and better in the work we do, building clearer progression frameworks, and much more. I’m hoping to write more about those things throughout next year.

Most of all, I hope I get to spend 2018 with the same talented, humble and dedicated team that’s taken us through 2017; and to add new faces, perspectives and talents to our team. Thank you Aimee, Aisling, Ann, Audrey, Brendan, Charles, Charlotte, Christine, Cillian, Eric, Francesca, Georgie, Harika, James, Jonny, Kate, Lydia, Mathias, Melissa, Phu, Raph, Rhiannon, Rob, Rory, Saff, Sam, Sana, Sarah, Sophie, Stephen, Struan, Tim and Yeuko for all your incredible work this year.

But first, a well-deserved break until the New Year.

Have a Merry Christmas, a lovely festive season and Happy New Year.


P.S. We’re hiring product designers, content designers and user researchers. If you want to help us figure out what’s next, head right over here!