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Design Better Podcast

Author: InVisionApp, Inc

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The Design Better podcast delivers insights from the world’s most renowned design leaders, empowering teams to transform their practice and build remarkable products. This series is hosted by Aarron Walter and Eli Woolery and brought to you by InVision, the digital product design platform used to make the world’s best customer experiences. Discover more best practices, research, and resources at
47 Episodes
In this episode, we speak with VMWare’s Head of Design Jehad Affoneh about how he measures the business impact of design, and aligns design goals with engineering goals. We learn why he thinks it’s important to lead with context, and how he goes about ensuring that the diverse voices on his team are heard. You’ll hear: How OKRs can align goals across design and engineering Lessons from running an internal conference for designers and executives Tactics for ensuring diverse voices on your team are heard
Joanna Peña-Bickley has had an amazing arc to her design leadership career: from Chief Creative Officer at Matter Worldwide and IBM, to her current role as Head of Research and Design for Alexa Devices at Amazon, Joanna has always sought to design things that are “useful, usable, and magical.” In this interview, we talk with Joanna about working cross functionally with both software and hardware teams, and what she’s learned about building a more connected workflow. We also get Joanna’s take on speaking design in the language of business, and how she works to bring more diversity into leadership at the companies where she's worked. Takeaways: How Joanna approaches building high-functioning teams. What the opportunities and challenges are when designing for invisible interfaces. How to create partnerships that will make your team successful.
Natalya Shelburne, Tech Lead for Design Engineering at The New York Times, sits at a fascinating crossroad of design and development. She leads a team of front-end developers and brings her own experience as a designer and art director to her current role. We chat with Natalya about her move from design to front-end dev, and some of the fears she faced along the way. We also talk about her approach to bridging design and dev, and what she brings from her prior career as a teacher into product design. Takeaways: Ways to approach the unnecessary dichotomy between designers and engineers Why respect is key to developing good cross-functional partnerships How to overcome fear of moving into a technical role as a designer
In the tech world, it's rare these days to spend more than a few years at one company. So we were curious to learn more about Kristin Wisnewski after hearing she’d been at IBM for 18 years. In her words, she “basically grew up at IBM,” and made a rapid transition from an individual contributor role to a leadership position in 2016, where she now leads an award-winning design team. We got to know the story of that career transformation, and what it took to get there. We also spoke with Kristin about clearing roadblocks for better work, and how to bring women into more leadership roles at technology companies. Takeaways: How to remain authentic to yourself as a leader The keys to peak team performance The way DesignOps works at IBM
Nancy Douyon has a remarkable story that lead her into a career in technology. From her childhood in Haiti, to moving to Boston and taking part in an MIT program as a kid, to running away from home and then teaching as a teenager, and on to design roles at Google and Uber, Nancy’s unconventional path gives her a unique perspective on how to approach product design for an audience that includes everyone. We chat with Nancy about her initial reluctance to enter a technical field despite her talent, how she thinks about making sure research represents a diverse set of users, and understanding global perspectives in product design. Takeaways: Approach hiring by looking at someone’s story Tips for making user research more representative How to tackle ethical product design Quick episode summary: 2:03 Roundtable discussion 35:39 Interview with Nancy Douyon
Next week we'll be launching our fourth season of the Design Better Podcast by InVision. Listen now for a special preview of the new season and get ready for new episodes coming to you weekly starting February 18th. In this new season we’re taking a closer look at how teams can work better together for greater impact across design, engineering, business, and product. We speak with Joanna Peña-Bickley about bringing more diversity into leadership, the head of cloud engineering at Atlassian, Steve Deasy, about psychological safety and the keys to high velocity teams, and Kristin Wisnewski of IBM discusses how to inspire teams to go farther and empower managers to build trust and vulnerability. Jehad Affoneh from VMWare shares his philosophy on how empathy for his colleagues and assuming good intention helps him create the best experiences possible for customers. And Marty Cagan from Silicon Valley Product Group shares his behind-the-scenes lessons on the differences between product teams and feature teams, and why product management is often misunderstood. Hear from the people shaping design and engineering transformation at The New York Times, Uber, Amazon, Pinterest, IBM, and even NASA. And you'll learn more about how to communicate the business impact of design at your company and how teams are leveling up their design maturity for even greater influence at work.
Diego Rodriguez has had a remarkable career at the intersection of design, business, and education. He has served as Global Managing Director of design firm IDEO, founding faculty member of Stanford’s, and is currently Executive Vice President, Chief Product and Design Officer at Intuit. In this episode, we discuss how design can influence broader business goals. Diego shares Intuit’s unique approach to product design, and the need to build a certain level of trust and empathy with customers when designing financial products. Takeaways: How to build design into the culture of an organization How Intuit acts on its mission to Design for Delight How design thinking brings a diversity of perspectives to the design process 
As we prepare for the last episode of Season 3, take a look back at some of the stories that have inspired us. In this short update episode, hear from hosts Aarron Walter and Eli Woolery about what they've enjoyed about this season of the Design Better Podcast so far and preview our upcoming episode with Diego Rodriguez, Executive Vice President, Chief Product and Design Officer at Intuit. There's lots more to come, so be sure to subscribe for updates at ___ Design Better by InVision provides unprecedented access to the insights that power the world’s best design teams. ___ Download a library of free ebooks and audiobooks to propel your design team forward at
Che Douglas led the transformation of the design team at The Wall Street Journal, from a service-based organization to a strategic component of an embedded Engineering, Product and Design (EPD) structure. We chat with Che, who is now VP of Design at, about how he got the right people involved to transform their design organization and spread design throughout the company. Che discusses the use of design sprints and how he showed the value of design to the organization through some of the team's key initiatives. Takeaways: How the design team can best collaborate with key partners Showing the value of design with a direct impact on the bottom line Going beyond defensiveness and being open to critique
Lori Kaplan is a veteran design leader, whose pioneering work includes authorship of the original Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines in the 1980s. In this episode we speak with Lori about how the Atlassian playbook helps both internal and external teams address design challenges, the deep roots of cross-functional collaboration at the company, as well as Lori’s perspective on how attitudes towards design have shifted in recent years across industries. Takeaways: How Atlassian “designs across the seams” with a broad view of the customer The habits and rituals of teams within Atlassian that help create better cross-functional collaboration How quantitative and qualitative metrics work together to measure the impact of design.
Quinton Larson is a design leader who has consistently brought thoughtful leadership into the companies where he works. In this episode we speak with Quinton about his prior work at IDEO and eBay, his involvement with Indeed’s Job Seeker Journey team, how he makes sure the right people are involved in project kickoffs, and how design systems help create a more connected workflow between designers and developers. Takeaways: Getting the right people involved in project kickoffs Being adaptable as a design leader Working efficiently and thoughtfully with key partners
What do Yahoo, Apple, and Pinterest have in common? Silicon Valley design vet Bob Baxley. With extensive design leadership experience under his belt, Bob knows a thing or two about bridging the gaps between teams to help champion a connected workflow. In this episode, Aarron and Eli tap Bob’s insights on productive design reviews, getting in sync with engineers, and what it takes to build key relationships with executives—all in the name of making products people can’t imagine living without.
Josh Ulm has quite the CV—Adobe Design Lead, Vodafone Head of UX, Oracle VP of Design, and now Wells Fargo SVP of Strategic Design and Insights. One thing he’s learned along the way is that “the most valuable role for design to play is influencing the business—not just the product." In this episode of the Design Better Podcast, Aarron and Eli covered subjects ranging from where the connected workflow is most broken, to the one critical question to ask executive sponsors when starting a project.
Enter design system pros Brad Frost and Dan Mall, long-time collaborators known for their expertise in bridging the gap between designers and developers. In this episode of the Design Better Podcast, Aarron and Eli talk with Dan and Brad about reducing friction between these two very different disciplines. They explore a few misconceptions around agile methodology, the risks of the creative technologist role, and breaking the design process to fix it. This is a conversation you don’t want to miss.
Benjamin Evans, Inclusive Design Lead for Airbnb, is part of a new kind of problem solvers tackling issues like racism, sexism, and bias in digital product design. In this episode of the Design Better Podcast, Eli and Aarron chat with Benjamin about using techniques like design thinking, research, and storytelling to ensure a more inclusive experience for all your users.
Abigail Hart Gray, Director of UX at Google, is one of the most inspiring design leaders we know. A self-proclaimed analytics nerd, Abigail uses numbers to deftly communicate the value of design to her colleagues, giving her team the runway to do great work. In this episode of the Design Better Podcast, Eli and Aarron get Abigail’s take on measuring design’s impact on business, how parenthood has changed her approach to problem solving, and more.
Listen as Julie Zhuo, VP of Product Design at Facebook and author of The Making of a Manager, recalls some of her earliest professional experiences at one of the fastest growing companies on the planet. She reveals how she got her start and grew to be a highly influential design leader renowned for building top-notch teams. Julie talks about the difference between leading and managing, and shares personal examples that can help you advance your career. Bio Julie Zhuo is one of Silicon Valley’s top product design executives and author of The Making of a Manager. Aside from her day job as VP of Product Design at Facebook, Julie writes about technology, design, and leadership on her popular blog The Year of the Looking Glass and in The New York Times and Fast Company.
In this bonus episode, we’re once more focused on remote teams, and more specifically on best practices for facilitating remote design sprints, building trust between teams in a remote environment, and running effective critiques and design reviews remotely. In the first half of the episode, we chat with Richard Banfield, VP of Design Transformation at InVision, and author of the book Enterprise Design Sprints, who gives us practical guidance on how to run a remote design sprint effectively. In the second half, Alison Rand, our Senior Director of Design Operations, will reveal the inner workings of how our own design teams perform design reviews remotely, and make sure that work is visible across teams. You’ll learn: How to facilitate a remote design sprints and run effective design reviews The virtuous cycle that you need to put in place to build trust with your remote teams Why preparation is the most critical part of running a design sprint remotely How our veteran distributed team at InVision runs remote design reviews To discover more remote work resources from InVision, check out
In this bonus episode, we chat about balancing personal and professional demands in a remote environment, especially during these challenging times. Join special guests Jennifer Aldrich, Senior Manager of Design Community Partnerships, and Stephen Gates, Head Design Evangelist, at InVision, as we discuss best practices for remote communication and how to build trust within your remote teams. We hope this episode helps you and your teams as you transition to remote work during this time of change in the face of our current health crisis. You’ll learn: How to set expectations for remote communication Tips for creating boundaries between work and life Establishing documentation and processes for team collaboration The value of soft skills in remote leadership Benefits of working from home in building trust and connection for teams
To celebrate 1 million listens to the Design Better Podcast, we're rewinding to our episode with David Kelley, Founder of IDEO and the Stanford, in honor of David just receiving the Edison Award for Innovation. And we're sending a special thanks to YOU for listening and helping us reach this 1 million milestone. We're tremendously grateful to you, your friends, and colleagues for tuning in and joining the journey with us. David Kelley doesn’t like to claim to have come up with the term design thinking, even though most people would say he did. But regardless of who coined it, as founder of IDEO and the Stanford he has been one of the most influential proponents of design thinking, and human-centered design in general. When it comes to bringing together engineering, product, and design teams early in the design process, and aligning those teams towards a common goal, design thinking has few equals, and should be part of the toolkit for every product driven company. In this episode, Eli and Aarron speak with David about what it takes to bring designers and engineers together, how our workspace influences our work, and how we can encourage creative confidence in our companies. Enjoy the chat and cheers to 1 million listens to the Design Better Podcast. Thank you so much for listening.
Comments (5)

Samson Kirigua

Nice! I learnt vital stuff on this episode from the discussion with Affoneh especially on the part about a seat at the table.

Mar 18th

Lara Templemore-Walters

Then I must be the second designer on the planet who is a certified scrum master 🤣🤣

Dec 4th

Lara Templemore-Walters

Very motivational, thank you!

Oct 25th

Franziska Franz

most interesting

Feb 1st
Reply (1)
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