Ship Designs in Product Design Sprints and Stay Tuned on Jira
One of the best responses you can get after wrapping up a design presentation with product managers, engineers, and design colleagues is “Ship it!” Hooray! It means your designs have met business requirements, are technically feasible and have successfully passed design criteria on usability, accessibility, and aesthetics.
Then the next question for every designer would be: how should I get those designs delivered and implemented? Also, if you are a design lead or a design manager, the question would be: how is this design delivery process tracked and documented as part of the entire project?
1. Ship designs on Jira
There are many ways on how designs get shipped in the software development environment, and I can only speak based on my practices. For about two years continually delivering designs on Jira (the software developed by Atlassian for agile software development), I found out a few methods that are helpful to me and the design team I am on. It would be worth sharing if other designers are looking for solutions in the similar situation.
I use Jira as the master tool to manage design deliverables stored on multiple platforms:
• Box/Microsoft SharePoint/Dropbox for storing design files.
• Zeplin/InVision for delivering designs specs.
• Reference links to other online product documents like product wiki, Google docs, slides, and sheets.
You may ask, with all the design deliverables distributed here and there, is there a structure to have them all organized and easy-to-read? The answer is Yes. Here is an example of what a Jira page looks like with design deliverables attached:
2. The pros of using Jira for design sprints
The benefits of using Jira as the umbrella for design deliverables are:
- Easy to track design process within the design team and benefit cross-departmental collaborations with engineers, product managers, or any team members who use Jira. It’s easy and efficient for engineers to break down design requirements and estimate potential dev time on “dev-ready” design Jiras. A design Jira is mostly a table of contents for engineers to refer to in scrum planning meetings and find assets they need during implementation.
- Clear to track design iterations through linked Jiras. Product design often goes through several phases (Alpha, Beta, GA) before getting the final product into users’ hands. Even for the same product feature, designs can be implemented differently from phase to phase. With linked Jiras, it’s much easier to track and when and which version of the design got implemented.
2. The cons of using Jira for design sprints
It is impossible to detect if links are valid or invalid on Jira. If the URLs are specific file links and the designers updated or removed designs from the deliverables folder on Box/Google Drive, those URLs could change or become invalid. Consequently, it can take a few hours for designers to fix those links manually. I experienced updating design links for more than a hundred Jiras by myself when my team migrated from Box to Microsoft SharePoint for storing design files. It’s painful and tedious.
Learning Jira itself takes time. As a designer, most design software is self-explanatory, and you can start creating your design work as soon as you launch the App and mess around with the tools. However, Jira comes from software development world, and its targeted users are engineers and product managers. Hence it’s not that intuitive for designers to pick it up quickly. There are other trendy project management tools like Trello and Asana, but I think Jira is still the most effective tool so far after you get used to it.
4. Final thoughts
As a designer, I always want to spend more time on crafting designs than repeatedly exporting designs. But I can see how important it is to improve and establish a shipping structure for design deliverables, especially for highly collaborative projects. It reveals a lot of things when you move your eyes away from the fancy design mockups to those behind-the-scenes details. With a well-structured methodology for delivering designs, the end product will look and feel as close as to the design renderings.
Please leave me a comment if you have thoughts to share about using Jira. 😃