Carta Design | August 2020 | Stanford, CA Initiative led by Liam Llorin. Contributors: John Hong, Kristina Inouye

Written by Kristina Inouye

Growing and Outgrowing

When Carta Design began, we were a pair of undergrads who knew nothing about scalability. We focused on fast output with little regard for process.

A few months following inception, we lost 1 of our 2 founding designers, but added two new undergrads to the team. While onboarding, we soon realized that our system (or lack thereof) wouldn't last.

<aside> 💡 We needed to reinvent our processes and systems to withstand the high turnover of undergrad teams if we wanted to continually produce high quality work.


What's Broken?

We started with the issues that caused the most pain during onboarding and normal workflow. We found 3 big issues:

Before Reorganizing

Before Reorganizing

After Reorganizing

After Reorganizing

  1. Non-scalable Figma

    No covers or dividers and little structure, so we had a tough time keeping track of our work and assets.

    We adapted our new structure from Dropbox Design's Figma template and implemented a similar hierarchy but mirroring our process expectations.

    We imagine one day we might outgrow this structure too (maybe we'll even need a real project instead of a file!), but for now, this works great

Additionally, since as students we mostly created Figma files for short-term school projects, we hadn't thought to establish a Design System. We (Liam especially) spent a lot of time researching systems, and created our current version (a work in progress, but much better), which I will discuss later.

  1. Wasted time in high-fidelity

Since early on we often skipped parts of the design process, we accumulated Dribbble-style UI unbacked by research and lacking in quality UX. We also had a collection of dissimilar screens since we had neglected to follow a visual language.

When we finished sorting through our assets, we discovered that there wasn't much we wanted to keep. Three months of work wasted due to lack of standardized process.

  1. No documentation requirements = arbitrary decisions