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How we design

Small, diverse teams drive our best work, but only when we all collaborate from the outset. No one can design alone. See what happens when one design team takes two different approaches—and why you want to include everyone at the beginning.


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Title: Every One. A designer’s story

Meet the Intuit team


Top row (left to right): Interaction Designer, Product Manager, Content Designer
Bottom row (left to right): Visual Designer, Product Developer, Design Researcher, Marketing

Our story begins


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[Hallway chat. The product manager shows the interaction designer something on his laptop.]

Product manager: “Time to work your magic. That new flow is killing our first-time-use experience.”

Interaction designer: “Oh wow. Look at all that legal stuff. It’s gonna turn our FTU into a GTFO. I’ll get started right away.”

Product manager: “Sorry this is so last minute. You’re a lifesaver.”


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[Interaction designer is thinking, eyes gazing upward. So much possibility!]
Every design challenge is a series of tough decisions. The First? How to get started.

Adventure 1

Get started on your own. You can bring the others in later. Besides, they have a lot on their plates right now.


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Adventure 1: Customer interview

[The interaction designer and product manager sit in a conference room interviewing a customer.]

Customer: “So I’m trying to get my info in there, and I run into this screen called…”

Interaction designer [thinking to herself]: “Wow she’s spending a lot of time on this screen… Why’s the first step so difficult? Oh shoot what did she just say?”


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Adventure 1: Late that night

[Interaction designer grimly stares at her computer.] “Well, that won’t work.”

[She gets up and tries to whiteboard.] “Wait, what if…ugh no.”

[Tired and admitting defeat, she slumps over and rests her head in her hands.] “Damn.”


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Adventure 1: Early the next morning

[Product manager and interaction designer are in a conference room working on a whiteboard together. Tensions are high.]

Product manager: “Okay, this is my first time seeing this. But I think we’re gonna need a visual pass on these…assuming the visual designer has any bandwidth.”

Interaction designer: “Yeah, I know He’s busy. Guess I thought I should start on my own.”

Product manager: “Riiiiiight…and Content is definitely gonna want to turn all that lorem ipsum into…not…that.”


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Adventure 1: Tensions rise…

Interaction designer: “Can’t you just—”

Content designer: “You need to step people through this stuff.”

Interaction designer: “But there’s already so much text.”

Content designer: “Which is why I need my text to get them through the other text.”

Interaction designer: “Can’t they just read the other text?”

Content designer: “Nobody reads the text!”

Interaction designer: “Then why do we even need y— I should so not finish that sentence…”

[Both designers turn away from each other in frustration.]


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Adventure 1: Pleading for help

[Interaction designer walks up the visual designer, who takes off his headphones.]

Interaction designer: “I know this is kind of last minute…”

Visual designer: …

Interaction designer: “Can you…You know…work your magic?”

Visual designer: …

Interaction designer: “Okay I hear what you’re saying. Let’s have a team meeting.”


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Adventure 1: Finally in the same room, putting it all together

[Everyone is in a room, some sitting, others jotting notes on a whiteboard.]

Product manager: “Alright guys, we can do this. What’s the right strategy?”

Content designer: “What’s the best practice for this?”

Design researcher: “What’s the best way to help the customer?”

Visual designer: “What’s the most important thing here?”

Interaction designer: “…That from now on we do this as a team.”

Want a do-over? Try Adventure 2

Adventure 2

Gather your partners and crank it out together.


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Adventure 2: Customer interview

[Everyone is in the room interviewing the customer together.]

Customer: “So I’m trying to enter my info, and then I get all this legal stuff.”

Content designer: “When you said ‘legal stuff,’ you made a scary face.”

Customer: “I totally did! This stuff makes me feel like I’m about to get sued.”

Visual designer [thinking to himself]: “Nice catch. I could use progressive disclosure on the legal.”


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Adventure 2: defining the customer problem

[The team debriefs after the interview, everyone is bouncing ideas off each other.]

Product manager: “She said something about the text…”

Interaction designer: “…Yeah, it scared her.”

Content designer: “We’ve really got to tame that beast…”

Visual designer: “…and trap it in a very pretty box…”

Marketer: “…where it can’t hurt our brand image.”

Product developer: “Soon as I get visuals and copy I can build it.”

Design researcher: “I’ll start pulling data for you guys.”

Interaction designer: “Hold on! I need more Post-Its!”


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Adventure 2: Working Session

[Product manager and design researcher whiteboard in the background.]

Content designer: “I bet I can hack the fed-speak down to four sentences.”

Interaction designer: “Whew. That stuff is an accessibility nightmare. That poor screen reader.”

Visual designer: “My poor eyes! This needs a Hoarders-level decluttering.”


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Adventure 2: prototyping

[The team is working together on a wall filled with Post-Its and notes.]

Visual designer: “Nice! This is starting to look like a thing.”

Interaction designer: “We should be able to have this done in a few hours.”

Product manager: “We should order boba.”

Content designer: “Ew, pass. Boba feels like an alien is laying eggs in—”

Design researcher: “Why are you like this?”


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Adventure 2: reflecting and refining

[The interaction designer works at her desk. The visual designer works outside while food delivery bots are in the background. The content designer works on the bus home while someone sleeps on her shoulder.]


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Success! With a broad range of perspectives, the team gets everyone’s very best.

[Team stands around, ready to cheers with boba tea.]

Interaction designer: “I seriously couldn’t have done this without you guys.”

Visual designer: “See? Boba’s pretty good, right?”

Content designer: “It is! You know, until something hatches out of—”

Product manager: “Please don’t.”


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Powering prosperity takes EVERYONE

…and it’s more fun that way.

Tina O’Shea, Scott Ganz, Danielle Kirkwood, Catherine Cacheris

Illustration & design:
Vivek Saigal
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