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The rise of the designer

Designing Atlassian – Medium | Adriaan Fenwick Photo by Richard Bagan on Unsplash

It’s no surprise that design-driven companies outperform their competitors where the experience of a product and service is key to fostering loyal customers.

Over 70 design agencies have been acquired by tech companies since 2007, 50% of which took place since 2014 — Design in Tech Report (2017)

ServiceNow just bought a design firm because even enterprise apps have to look pretty — TechCrunch

Tech companies are bringing design in-house, where everything used to be outsourced. Further investments are being made in redesigning office space to try and encourage more collaboration between designers and developers.

Informal area where teams can collaborate

Designers are becoming a core part of modern software development teams with different roles as leaders:

  • making decisions with the business
  • leading the experience of products and services
  • driving strategic thinking to help organisations innovate

There’s also an abundance of modern design apps that are now available, each with a unique approach for helping designers become more efficient.

Here are a few examples that stand out:

UI design

Sketch App provides clean interfaces to help designers become efficient and focus on their craft, while Figma enables real-time collaboration and keeps everyone on the same page.


There are now simpler ways to build prototypes with InVision that turns designs into prototypes as well as provide ways for teams to give feedback on designs. Marvel lets teams quickly collaborate on prototypes through its simple design that helps turn sketches and mockups into prototypes for the web, mobile and other devices.

Version control

A big problem for designers is how they manage the versions of their files. This is a hard problem to solve which often entails a very technical and complex solution. A few apps are trying to solve this problem which includes Abstract and Kactus.

🚀 The evolution of software teams

The roots of Atlassian are in engineering, where Scott and Mike (founders) had a dream of making teams work better together. (They were the original engineers who shipped Jira to our first customers.)

This meant that a lot of our products were aimed at technical and complex teams, who often require a lot of customisation and powerful features to get their jobs done.

As software continued to eat the world, development teams continued to evolve and so did Atlassian. We expanded our products into broader teams with Confluence, HipChat, Bitbucket, etc.

A lot has changed since the early days of Atlassian, but our mission has remained the same.

We believe behind every great human achievement, there is a team. Our mission is to unleash the potential in every team.

💎 A spark for designers

Based on a survey from the Design in Tech Report (2015), 1:5 is the ratio between designers and engineers in early stage, design-conscious startups. We’re also seeing an increase in the number of hybrid roles, where 1 out of 3 designers in startups have some sort of technical background.

Looking at these ratios, it is apparent how important it is for designers to keep moving their work forward so that they don’t block the team. Finding ways to scale design is critical for the team where designers become educators to empower their teams to make design decisions.

At Atlassian we understand that designers play a very important role in their teams, which is why we conducted research to understand what kinds of challenges designers face when working in development teams.

The biggest pain point designers face when working in team structures is keeping up and making sure that the development team has the latest assets. This was compounded when dealing with different versions of files that are stored in different locations.

It’s also not uncommon for designers to maintain duplicate files in those various locations — mockups stored on Dropbox; specs documented on Confluence; design assets uploaded to Jira, shared via HipChat and/or email.

The research also confirmed that designers have a different workflow, which is not as linear as the development team’s workflow.

Designers and developers live in different toolsets, but they meet in the middle when using collaboration software (such as Jira, Confluence, and HipChat).

This created an exciting opportunity to explore ways in which we might help alleviate some pain when designers share designs with their team.

One of the results from those explorations is a Sketch App plugin that lets designers upload their artboards, layers or slices directly from Sketch to Jira issues, without having to switch between tools.

It’s exciting to see that a number of design vendors have been thinking about the same kinds of problems.

🎉 Atlassian & design app integrations

Recently, a number of plugins and integrations have been released for Jira Cloud and Confluence Cloud with 🤞 hopefully many more to come.

Jira for Sketch
Seamlessly upload artboards, layers and slices from Sketch App to your Jira issues — without having to switch context.

Invision for Confluence
Bring your InVision projects into Confluence Cloud, view what you’re building and enhance collaboration team-wide.

Mixin for Adobe Creative Cloud and Jira
Connect your creative team with your teams in Jira by instantly sending Adobe Creative Cloud assets to Jira Cloud.

UXPin for Jira
Give your team easy access to prototypes, design specs, and documentation by adding multiple prototypes to a JIRA issue.

Justinmind for Jira
Integrate prototyping workflows with Agile projects, see issues in context and stay up-to-date with every design change.

Figma for Jira
Stay on track with live design embeds in Jira Cloud, which streamlines project communication between your team.

Sympli for Jira
Bring digital products to life faster & easier: Design handoff, implementation, and collaboration for web & mobile product teams

I’m very excited about what the future holds and what opportunities will exist in helping designers spend less time on managing files and more time solving real problems.

What kind of integrations are you looking forward to?

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The rise of the designer was originally published in Designing Atlassian on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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