Hatch Design Talks 2023





A Love Letter from Designers to Developers

A Love Letter from Designers to Developers

Nadia Tokerud

Nadia Tokerud

UX Lead, Buypass

UX Lead, Buypass

About the Episode

Today we chat with norwegian lead designer Nada Tokerud, who after being a senior contributor jumped into the challenges of design leadership. The bumps on the road led her to craft a very specific take on how designers and developers should collaborate, and she will be showcasing the solutions with her talk “Death to Handovers: A love letter between designers and developers” at the conference in the Ateliers stage.



Damian: Hi, Nadia. Thanks so much for joining me into this small podcast that we do for Hatch Conference attendees. 

Nadia: Thanks. Thanks for having me.

Damian: Let's jump right in. So you're gonna give a talk at Hatch in the Atelier stage. And I wanted to hear a little bit more about your background so that you can share also with people listening. How did you get started in this whole mess? 

Nadia: It's been a long winding road. I started with a degree in graphic design and from then I mostly worked in tech for the last 15 years or so,

And it's been all sorts of places and with increasing the annoyance to both solutions and how we work and how we work together.

Damian: And since when do you lead the team at Buypass? 

Nadia: The last year, actually, I started in Buypass in May last year.

Damian: And how did the whole experience from going in as a kind of individual contributor into a lead position been?

Nadia: Oh, it's been it's been fun for the most part. I keep learning things every single day and I keep finding places where I need to know more because I'm a very senior individual contributor and I'm leading a team of designers. It's trying to find a good way of taking care of them as well as staying on top of my game

Damian: Yeah.

Nadia: I'm still both a contributor and the team lead.

Damian: All right. Just, it's still a hands on role. Let's say it's not just managing. 

Nadia: Yeah, we're a tiny team of three people and there's too many product teams to count, I think.

Damian: For sure. And how is the UX and product scene in Norway? Do you think you have like specific challenges over there that might be like feel different than the rest of Europe?

Nadia: Mostly it's the same, but what I can say about Norway is that focus on a universal design is extremely high and every single place they require you to know a lot about it. And we got really strict rules on it in the country. And then being a tiny country, we also have the issue of language and the user base.

So I'll get people to respond to our service and into you might not be easy as when you have the whole world or continent.

Damian: Can you share with us what what uh, Buypass is?

Nadia: Bypass is a company that deals with among others internet security and trust services. So log in for the governmental Websites and TLS certificates among others. And we also do some projects for the Norsk Tipping, which is the government based gambling platform. One of two legal in Norway.

Damian: I saw that the website was multi language is also the products like English and Norwegian.

Nadia: Yeah, we got customers all over the world, especially on certificates.

Damian: Ah, nice. Okay, cool.

Must be fun for all the user testing as well. And all the, I'm not sure if it's anything like German but you definitely have to look at the UI and how it looks with one language and then look again and how it looks in English.

Nadia: oh yeah we got those problems as well. Luckily, we also got front end developers and developers in Ukraine. So we have to translate so that they will understand what they're making.

Damian: That makes sense. Cool. And actually your talk, it's about also the relationship with developers, right? Like you're talking about handovers and you propose they, they must die. What does this mean?

Nadia: Whenever I'm working on something and there's a handover at the end, usually when the developers gets to start on it, I've been doing something else for three months and then they come ask me because I didn't do it properly, or they didn't ask me the right questions. When I was putting it into a Jira or anyplace and things go wrong all the time. But there's, I know, 20 different buttons, which should be the same button. And everything is just weird for me. It's an eyesore and for the developers, it's an annoyance.

Damian: And if the answer is not documentation, what is your usual process or how do you go at it?

Nadia: Work together. If saying that it's not a rally race, it's more like playing ping pong.

And with ping pong, it sounds like it's a competition against each other, but you're only as good as the people you're playing with.

So if you stay in front of and behind the developers at the same time, it is a huge challenge as a designer.

Try to stay as close to the developers as possible and bring them in on your user interviews and research shareouts and just keep them in the loop and stay close to them. And if you can, work in the same room,

Just sit as close to them as possible. And if you are developers in Ukraine, it's not as easy, but keep the line.

Open and make sure that you're available.

Damian: Yeah, for sure. By actually getting everyone involved, you also get involved in what they do and. It does build this relationship that also forces one another to, to pay more attention.

But , how does it start? Let's say, you've been working for a while. Maybe it happened to you, right? Like you enter a company or something like that. And those relationships weren't built yet. Did you have any specific moment where you're like, okay, this is definitely not working.

Or, this, or you have this classic handover process and something went completely wrong. And you were like, okay let's change things.

Nadia: There's been several projects where I can say we need to change things. I really don't want to put anyone in particular on display

Damian: No, for sure

Nadia: But I did have a project that's a very clear case of something's gotten wrong in the translation or we don't know where. 

This is with one of my former employers. We had a website that was almost clear to be published and then some of the stakeholders found out that, Hey, this design. doesn't really work. They started kicking up a sandstorm about it and we had a meeting with them to figure out what they didn't like and we realized the sketches for that were in Figma and had been touched was three months earlier. So somewhere between them approving those sketches or even those sketches being made and everything being implemented. As someone has used the old sketches and we didn't really know

Damian: There was no point way of checking. 

Nadia: It could be me who hadn't updated some links or it could be someone who used the wrong link Yeah, no one really knows and when we figure out we didn't really care who's doing this playing the blame game and makes

Damian: Yeah.

Nadia: sad and mad and angry, but we scrambled everything together and I sat more with developers, both me and the other designer on that project.

And we made sure that everything was as good as possible and we documented everything with redlining and just absolute, yeah. We were really meticulous and there we found out that using systems like Storybook was a game changer because that made us able to say this component is that component over there.

And worked on language alongside trying to get the website out. That was February and in May the sites were live.

Damian: And you started your collaboration when you were first starting as a designer and how you are leading the team and making that collaboration happen. How do you feel that has changed in the last few years?

Nadia: It used to be a battle to try to get into the room, but really it means you need to get a seat at any table and you need to get into the rooms. Just try to find people who you want to be your best friend in the company who can help you get places. Right now I'm at a point where I can say to someone, Hey, should we do this? And the answer is never "no" at first time. It

Might be a bit are you sure this is a good idea? But never know. And trying to experiment with all kinds of stuff, the team of a couple of my designers. Brought this "Share out Thursday" or "Insights Thursday", where they sit the developers and the designer and PO in the same room and look at a user feedback or, anything that relates to how things are being used and spend an hour or so just talking through everything. 

Damian: Nice. What can people expect from your talk? What are going to be like the main ideas that you plan to get across to participants?.

Nadia: The main message is what people have started calling my crusade. It's about figuring how to work well together and making sure you find what works for your company and your teams and how to help that on a more strategic level.

Cause as a designer within the team, you can do. A lot. We need those people outside the design squad, and even outside the developer squad. You need someone to make sure there's space to create collaboration and good collaboration environment. And yeah

Damian: what are you most excited about Hatch Conference coming back to Berlin? So you've been to Berlin right before and you said you really liked it.

Nadia: Yeah. I've been a couple of times Berlin. So I'm looking forward to seeing it again and spending in there and and I'm also really looking forward to meeting other people who's working with design on a senior level and learning from them and seeing what other people have to say, because listening to myself all of the time is boring 

Damian: Yeah. Yeah. And especially sometimes even people now that we're all working remotely, it still gets a little very far away from even from your own team, right? I think it's I think it's a good chance for people to actually hear what's going on.

And particularly what I enjoy about this is that as it's something really pan European, right? You'll have someone from Norway, someone from Portugal, someone from the Ukraine, like, all talking kind of the same language and at the same time, very different problems and very different ideas.

So yeah, really happy that you're one of them. Thanks for joining and we'll be seeing each other in October.

Nadia: right. Looking forward to it.

Damian: Thank you so much.

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