When someone mentions UX Design they typically think of buzz words like design thinking, pixels, or prototypes. It’s likely you don’t imagine the words that help form the structure of any given digital product or experience. However, Ann Buechner and her Shopify team are changing the narrative on how we view words in the space of design.

A writer at heart, Ann somewhat fell into the world of design. With an MFA in Creative Writing, Ann had intentions of “becoming an academic professor and professional writer.” As life would have it she ended up at a creative agency where she…


Nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic we are collectively and individually grappling with being asked to halt our lives. From cancelled events to new work environments to social unrest, 2020 embodies the word “unprecedented”. Yet here we are adapting the best we can in the face of so much uncertainty.

As much as we all (I’m sure) would like to throw 2020 in the trash, there’s always room to see the silver lining as we begin to reset and prepare for 2021. This is why we created this new series called Quarantine Diaries.

Quarantine Diaries invites you into the life…


Celebrating playful experiences that people can learn and benefit from is a common theme in Lauryn Morris’s work. On the Product Design team at Snap Inc., she helped co-create the hardware that broke the internet in 2016, Spectacles, the smart glasses that enable users to capture the world around them while staying in the moment. As she and I settled into our Zoom call I knew it would be a treat. …


What excited you about becoming a design leadership coach?

The experience of being coached opened my eyes to the craft of coaching. I realized I had been unofficially coaching my teams for years, and I wanted to further develop my coaching skills. It became clear to me very quickly that I was passionate about coaching and that it gave me energy to engage with people in this way. Coaching became an integral part of my growth as a leader, and as a person.

As a design leadership coach, I am now able to work with people from a variety of…


Expand your leadership style to scale yourself and invest in your team

Can you remember a time when your manager helped you find the answer to a challenge without prescribing the solution? How did that feel?

For many of us, it’s an empowering experience to discover our own direction. We develop new perspectives and learn more from the experience than if someone had told us how to solve it.

So, if this is such a powerful experience, why do we so easily default to directing our teams?

As creatives, we spend our careers developing our ability to make confident decisions and solve hard problems. …


Photo by Greyson MacAlpine and Tegan Mierle

In April, we were in Palm Springs for our third Within retreat. If you’re not familiar with Within, it’s Design Dept.’s sibling community focused on bringing together womxn leaders in design and technology, and helping them remember to “put their oxygen mask on before helping others” — a critical practice for all of us leading at fast-paced organizations.

One of our fireside chats at the retreat focused on resilience, the ability to bounce back from adversity. While we all have a natural capacity for resilience, that capacity can get depleted in times of extreme change.

So, what can you do…


Tips for harnessing your team’s peak intelligence

Photo by rawpixel

The way you lead your team’s design critiques has a significant impact on the group’s long-term cohesion and on each individual’s growth. An effective critique can be a magical thing. Teammates hone their working relationships, learn from each other, and improve their work by diving deep into the nuances — an opportunity they may rarely get during their day-to-day grinds.

Unfortunately, most crit go more like this: a team stands around some boards or a big screen; one teammate briefly presents their work, and people start blurting out feedback.

The result? The meeting…


An Interview with Apeksha Garga

There’s more than one way to meet a challenge. Here at Design Dept., we’re big fans of meeting them with this question: If the universe were using this person or situation to help me grow, what would I get to learn about myself and life?

Apeksha Garga takes this approach to a new level, and it has propelled her growth as a design leader. Since joining Wealthfront, Apeksha has expanded her impact from an individual contributor to VP of Design in just 2 years, embracing each set of challenges as an ally in her growth. …

Design Dept.

We believe leadership is a creative practice.

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