Demystifying DesignOps

A Junior UX Designer’s Guide

Silas Silikhe
4 min readSep 14, 2023

As a junior UX designer, you’re probably diving into the exciting world of user experience, crafting digital experiences that people love. But have you heard about DesignOps? Don’t worry if it sounds like jargon from a distant galaxy; we’re here to explain it in plain English and show you why it’s super relevant to your budding UX design career.

‘Puts on teacher hat’

DesignOps in Simple Terms

Think of DesignOps as the secret sauce that makes your UX design process smoother, faster, and more effective. It’s like having a magic wand that helps you and your team work together seamlessly to create awesome digital products.

For example, let’s take Safaricom, a leading telecommunications company in Kenya, and one of their most iconic products, M-Pesa. M-Pesa is a mobile money service that allows users to send and receive money, pay bills, and access other financial services using their mobile phones.

Imagine Safaricom as a bustling kitchen, and M-Pesa as the special dish they’re preparing. M-Pesa, in this analogy, is a mobile money service that allows users to send and receive money, pay bills, and access other financial services using their mobile phones.

Now, let’s break down how DesignOps functions like the secret sauce in this culinary adventure:

1. Smoother Workflow — Preparing the Ingredients

In Safaricom’s design kitchen, various teams are involved in making M-Pesa a delectable experience. You have the UX designers crafting the user interface, developers coding the app, product managers defining features, and customer support ensuring users have a smooth experience.

DesignOps ensures that all these teams are well-coordinated, just like a chef’s brigade working in harmony. Design files, user feedback, and project timelines are well-organized and easily accessible, making the design process smoother. It’s like having a recipe book with clear instructions and all the ingredients laid out neatly.

2. Faster Service — Cooking Efficiency

With DesignOps in place, the development of M-Pesa becomes faster and more efficient. The designers don’t have to repeatedly explain design choices to developers, and developers don’t have to guess what the designers intended. It’s like a well-choreographed dance where each step is synchronized. This means new features and updates can be rolled out swiftly, keeping M-Pesa competitive and up-to-date.

3. Effective Collaboration — The Perfect Blend

Just like a seasoned chef knows when to add the spices, DesignOps ensures effective collaboration among teams. Imagine the UX designers suggesting a new feature to the product managers. With DesignOps, this collaboration is seamless. The designers can present their ideas, and the product managers can quickly assess the impact and feasibility. It’s like mixing just the right amount of flavors to create a perfect dish.

4. Consistent Taste — Maintaining Quality

M-Pesa’s success relies on consistency. Users expect the same taste and quality every time they use the service, whether they’re in Nairobi, Kisumu, or Mombasa. DesignOps acts as the secret seasoning that maintains this consistency. Design guidelines, style elements, and user interface patterns are all well-documented and easily accessible. It’s like ensuring that every plate of M-Pesa is seasoned with the same delightful flavors, no matter where it’s served.

5. User-Centric Approach — Satisfying the Palate

But here’s the real magic: DesignOps also encourages a user-centric approach. Just like a chef listens to customer feedback and adjusts the recipe accordingly, DesignOps helps Safaricom collect user feedback, conduct usability tests, and make data-driven design decisions. It’s like adding that extra touch to the recipe to make it even more delightful for users.

6. Ongoing Improvement — The Recipe Evolves

Safaricom doesn’t stop at just one delicious serving of M-Pesa. They keep refining the recipe, adding new features, and improving the user experience. DesignOps ensures that this process of continuous improvement is efficient and organized. It’s like a restaurant that keeps innovating and offering new dishes to keep customers coming back for more.

Why DesignOps Matters to You

Okay, now that you’ve got a grasp of what DesignOps is through our Safaricom and M-Pesa example, let’s see why it’s a big deal for you as a junior UX designer:

1. Less Chaos, More Focus

DesignOps tidies up the mess. It means you spend less time searching for files, managing versions, and dealing with design emergencies. Instead, you can focus on creating cool user interfaces and delightful experiences.

2. No More Lone Wolf

You won’t be designing in isolation. With DesignOps, you’ll be part of a well-coordinated team. Just like a sports team, everyone plays their role, making sure the final product is a winner.

3. Design Consistency

Ever played a game where the rules kept changing? That’s what inconsistent design feels like to users. DesignOps ensures your designs follow the same rules, creating a smooth and enjoyable user journey.

4. Learning and Growth

As a junior UX designer, you’re on a learning journey. DesignOps is your trusty guide, helping you learn faster and grow as a designer. It’s like having a mentor who shows you the ropes.

5. User-Centric Superpower

You’re not just creating pretty screens; you’re making life easier for users. DesignOps encourages you to listen to users, test your designs, and improve based on feedback. It’s like having a built-in user radar.

In conclusion, DesignOps is like the secret sauce that Safaricom uses to cook up the success of M-Pesa. It streamlines the design process, fosters collaboration, and ensures a consistent and user-friendly experience. Just like a well-crafted recipe, DesignOps makes sure that every interaction with M-Pesa is a delightful one for its users, keeping them coming back for more. So, as a junior UX designer, remember that DesignOps can be your secret sauce for creating exceptional digital products.



Silas Silikhe

Step into my tech world, where I share insights on Product Design and Software Development for impactful empowerment.