In the Penpot product team we have a typical size for an agile team and a not so typical ratio designers (4) / developers (6). We feel that we already have found a simple way to organize our design work and wanted to share the key points.
At Penpot (the platform) we have a team called “Penpot design” where:
Our projects dashboard
Not only designers are in the team, and also not only the product team. There are 15 members so far including the roles of CEO, Comms, Customer Success and Revenue.
- We group the files in projects that respond to different working areas. Some examples are User Stories, Marketing, Analysis & Definition, Testing…
- We have a Shared Library with our Design System which we use for most of our designs. The DS is based on Atomic Design. We even defined a governance model based on Brad Frost’s ideas.
- We have a file template for designing user stories with a cover, the library of the DS connected, a workflow schema and templates of the main screens to help you with the boring part of the designs.
- We do not have many projects (15, 8 pinned) and this rarely changes, so it seems that our categories are working fine to group our design work.
- It feels easy to start working on new things.
- Splitting the designs of the features in User Stories help us to have a clear scope of the problem to solve with each one of them and to match the design production to our agile workflow.
Room for improvement
- Maintaining the Design System is a pain. Hard to admit, but how to keep the pace of creating new assets, validating them and updating our DS components at the right moment is something that is still a mystery for us.
- It can be difficult to find a specific design among the files.
- Splitting the designs of the features is good for the scope but bad to see the big picture.
Share your thoughts with us!
Not gonna lie, I shared this because I want something in return. Specifically for you to share here personal stories or ideas about:
- How would you improve the above situation?
- How do you organize your team projects. Bonus points if they are large and professional?
- How could Penpot better help organize big projects? What do you think is missing in the tool?
Really, really looking forward to your answers
Hey, what an interesting topic! I feel that file and project organization is something that we as designers are often struggling with, and we are sooooo opinionated :D. It can be a big pain, especially in bigger teams and larger projects.
IMHO, splitting the designs into features (1 file for every feature or User Story) would not help with our workflow. For me, it works best to use a different approach: We use one file for every single Epic, and then, split that file into pages for every User Story in this Epic. I really need to switch frequently between the user story I’m working on and previous ones. I prefer to check patterns and keep consistency between designs more than work in an isolated file. Likewise, I think that it’s important to have the big picture. Sometimes features are so related (for example, part of the same flow, or an improvement) that have them in different files sound awkward for me. It also helps me to build more flexible components, constantly checking if I’m building something so similar that, with some adjustments, could be the same component as another that I previously have used. This is particularly useful if you work with other designers, as you can be working in the same file and on features that are related or interdependent.
Likewise, It is useful when I need to use what I call design components (components that I use a lot to speed up my workflow but are not going to have a counterpart in the code).
These components are often shared by Epics, and working this way makes it possible to have them stored in the file where they are being used instead of in the Design System.
The cons are that sometimes the files get so large that it can be hard to handle. Something that always helps is to have a full-featured search to find not only text but components, similar layers by property, and so.
I hope that more designers will share their ideas!
proud UI Designer at Taiga
Pros & cons everywhere
I love the idea of designing the big picture (epics) rather than small design chunks (user stories) and split them later. Still wondering how to better do this without negativelly affect a highly lean design approach in a product early stage, when there is still a lot to define. We will probably switch to a model like this soon, once we publish some new capabilities for libraries and components.