The Structure of Optimizely’s Design Team

Jeff Zych
Jeff Zych
Aug 18, 2015 · 4 min read

Optimizely’s Design team is on a mission to design great products that enable our customers to turn data into action. To achieve this goal, we have 3 product roles and 2 marketing roles to define the entire customer experience, from the first interaction with our brand to successfully using our products.

Product Roles

The goal of the Design team’s product roles is to make our products easy to use and essential to our customers.

Product Designers

Product Designers create the products our customers use every day, from concept to completion. They’re present throughout the entire development process, from researching the problem to building prototypes to polishing the UI.

They work with everyone on the development team to launch features and products. They partner with Product Managers to decide what we’re building and why we’re building it. They work with UX Researchers to research the problem, test solutions, and run sessions. They work with Software Engineers to get technical input on designs and to build features. And they work with UI Engineers to ensure the final UI achieves the design’s intent.

All of our product designers know basic HTML and CSS. They use these skills to create prototypes, which they use to get feedback from users and to communicate the design intent to the development team. Some product designers are strong frontend developers and implement their own designs (or jump into code to fine tune interactions, animations, or visual design).

UI Engineers

UI Engineers own Optimizely’s frontend code. They’re a bridge between designers and engineers, translating design requirements into functional user interfaces. This setup allows engineers to write performant, maintainable, testable code, while enabling UI engineers to create polished interfaces that delight our customers.

A UI Engineer’s ultimate goal is to create great customer experiences, just like our designers. This is why they’re on the Design team. They understand the importance of design and why it’s worth nudging that button 3px to the left or tweaking an animation’s timing until it feels just right.

Another core responsibility of UI Engineers is to build and maintain our internal CSS framework, OUI (like Bootstrap, but customized for our products). This framework provides a set of core components (buttons, tabs, accordions, etc.) that we use across the product, marketing site, and other digital properties. This keeps our products consistent for users, and makes it easy for designers, engineers, PMs, and UI Engineers to build interfaces without writing CSS or JS. This also makes it easy for UI Engineers to translate mockups into finished code without needing a redlined pixel-perfect design comp.

UX Researchers

UX Researchers talk to our customers to understand their problems, needs, business objectives, frustrations, and concerns. During product development, they keep teams focused on customer needs by being the voice of the user. They work across scrum teams to do generative research, concept validation, and usability studies. They partner with Product Designers and Product Managers to create research plans and run sessions.

Researchers also own our user personas, which help teams understand who they’re building for. They are continually updating them to accurately represent our customers and how they use our products.

Finally, they work with non-product teams, like Marketing and Customer Success, to help them better understand our customers. They sometimes run sessions on their behalf, but more often than not they are consultants who teach teams about research methods and which method is best suited for their need.

Marketing Roles

The marketing roles own all design work that’s outside of the product, such as landing pages, marketing collateral, T-shirts, display ads, and more. These roles aren’t officially on the Design team, but we still work together to ensure we have consistent branding and aesthetic throughout the customer journey.

Communication Designers

Communication Designers craft the customer experience outside of our products. They partner with teams around the company to design solutions that best communicate optimization and our product to our customers. This includes our marketing site, customer stories, white papers, branding, sales collateral, T-shirts, and anything else that needs design. They are expert visual designers who work across digital and physical media.

Communication Designers also own our brand’s visual execution. They maintain our brand guidelines to ensure our visual identity is used properly, both internally and externally. They partner with Marketing to ensure the visual identity reflects the brand’s values, voice, and tone.

Marketing Engineers

Marketing Engineers own Optimizely’s website. They control the architecture that powers our site and build new landing pages and sub-sites. They work closely with our Communication Designers to translate their designs into code. They also work closely with Marketing to optimize our site (and yes, we use Optimizely on Optimizely!). They’re expert frontend developers who know how to build fast, performant, maintainable web sites.

Marketing Engineers also work with our UI Engineers to maintain our frontend code library, which is shared across the product and marketing site. They work with designers to develop reusable components and design patterns that ensure our site looks consistent, is fast to develop, and easy to maintain.

By having Product Designers, UI Engineers, UX Researchers, Communication Designers, and Marketing Engineers all work together, we’re able to combine our unique skills to design a cohesive experience for our customers.

Continue learning about Design at Optimizely by reading about our product design process.

Interested in joining the team? Send me a note!

Updated on 7/25/16 to reflect the modified structure of the team.

Design @ Optimizely

Stories about design and product development from…

Design @ Optimizely

Stories about design and product development from Optimizely’s Design team.

Jeff Zych

Written by

Jeff Zych

Head of Product Design at LaunchDarkly. Formerly at Gladly, Optimizely, and UC Berkeley’s School of Information

Design @ Optimizely

Stories about design and product development from Optimizely’s Design team.