Tools for DesignOps Specialists

Tools for DesignOps specialists

While most of DesignOps focuses on theory and strategy, design and development tools are vital for implementing and optimizing processes and workflows.

We’re going to dive into DesignOps tools for everything from optimizing performance to managing projects, building your design team, and creating great user experiences for your customers.

Before we get started, did you know that a single design tool can solve many DesignOps challenges? 

UXPin Merge enables you to sync the editor with code components from a company repo (via Git or Storybook integrations) so designers can build fully functioning high-fidelity prototypes. Find out more about UXPin Merge and how you can request access to this revolutionary technology.

UXPin Merge–The Ultimate DesignOps Tool

Here are four ways UXPin Merge helps DesignOps:

  1. First, and most critically, UXPin Merge unifies design systems. Everyone (UX designers, product teams, developers) works with the same design system hosted in a company repository. DesignOps doesn’t have to worry about making sure each team and department works with the same elements and components because Merge syncs everything automatically.
  2. UXPin Merge ensures designers comply with organizational design standards. Every element and component is already fully coded, so designers and developers don’t have to go back and forth about what’s possible and what isn’t. Designers only have to drag-and-drop design system components to build new products and interfaces. After the design handoff, engineers can copy/paste any changes from UXPin and start developing the product without starting from scratch. Any changes to the design system sync back to UXPin’s design editor, so teams continuously work with the latest version.
  3. UXPin Merge saves an incredible amount of time and effort for DesignOps and DevOps. Without a tool like UXPin Merge, teams spend a lot of time ensuring everyone uses the same design system. With most development already complete, UXPin Merge also streamlines the design handoff process, making life easier for engineers.
  4. UXPin Merge empowers non-designers to build products. PayPal’s product teams (with very little UX knowledge) design fully functioning prototypes with Merge 8x faster than experienced designers using traditional vector-based design tools. This workflow frees UX designers to focus on solving user experience challenges rather than building and testing prototypes.

Optimizing Performance

Performance is a key indicator of a successful DesignOps strategy and team mentality. But how do you know if your team is operating at peak performance?

Level Up is a seven-question assessment that can help you answer that question. You can even benchmark against other similar-sized teams to gauge your organization’s performance.

Level Up produces a report which you can import to Excel or Sheets to evaluate areas for improvement.

Heather Phillips, former Design Manager at Designer Fund (now Design Director at Slack), developed the Level Up Framework from her experience of building and educating hundreds of design teams.

Tools for Project Management

Project management is an area where DesignOps can increase efficiency. You should look for a project management tool that’s easy for your team to use and works with current organizational processes and procedures.

If you aren’t using a project management tool, the goal is to find something that teams will actually use that integrates with current administrative tools and processes. 

Most project management tools offer a free trial, so take the time to test different options with your team(s). It’s important to find something that expedites workflows and scales as your company grows.

  • Trello: Famous for its kanban-style layout, Trello allows you to organize projects visually–giving you a holistic view of where you are at all times. Trello’s other notable features include task assignments, timelines, productivity metrics, calendars, and more.
  • Asana: One of the world’s most popular project management tools. The tool allows users to customize how they want to see projects and tasks with lists, timelines, or boards. You can also automate certain tasks to optimize common flows and processes.
  • Jira: A firm favorite for engineering teams for its ability to visualize releases and development-related integrations. The tool is part of the Atlassian suite, so Jira might make sense if your organization already uses Atlassian products. Jira is also great for planning, tracking, and running sprints.
  • Confluence: Another Atlassian product optimized for remote-team collaboration. Confluence is marketed as a “single source of truth” because organizations can create a knowledge base to keep everyone on the same page. You can also build a social intranet to foster inter-department communication, collaboration, and company culture.
  • Monday: Like Asana, Monday is a project management tool for building, running, and scaling team workflows. Monday’s simple and intuitive interface makes it easy to strategize, plan, execute, review and deliver projects consistently and on time.
  • Notion: A unique project management tool that allows you to create project road maps and wikis to outline guidelines and expectations. You can also set up multiple views for each project, including timeline, calendar, kanban, list, and more.

Tools for Team Building

People are an essential component of any design and development process. DesignOps must promote team building so that people work together towards a common goal that serves the business and its customers.

These team-building tools help develop team cohesion and boost morale while encouraging teams and stakeholders to buy into your DesignOps mindset and processes.

  • TriviaMaker: Host games in a virtual or online environment, including grid, list, trivia, or wheel. You can use TriviaMaker’s pre-made games or create your own to have fun and energize the team.
  • Pizzatime: Pizza parties are a firm favorite team-building exercise. Pizzatime allows you to host remote pizza parties by sending a slice to team members wherever they might be in the world.
  • Virtual Zoom Games: Find a comprehensive list of games and activities teams can play over a video call.
  • Game Word Generator: Word games are fun and encourage brainstorming and creative thinking–an essential skill for solving user experience challenges. Game Word Generator has simple word games for playing in-person or online.

UXPin – A Comprehensive DesignOps Design Tool

UXPin is more than a design tool. It helps promote collaboration and streamline many DesignOps processes. Here are a few key UXPin features that benefit DesignOps.

Design Collaboration

UXPin’s Comments feature allows designers to collaborate on projects from wireframing to design handoff no matter where they are in the world. Tag people and assign comments to team members to take action–they can even mark as resolved once complete.

You can also comment on previews so researchers can take notes directly on prototypes during usability testing, or stakeholders can share their thoughts and feedback.

Design Systems

Your organization’s design system is the heart of your product. UXPin makes it easy to manage and maintain your design system. Take your design workflow to the next level with UXPin Merge, allowing you to maintain a single source of truth across the organization.

User Experience

Design user experiences your customers will love! Capture user data using Variables and use that information to take action–like building a fully functioning signup and login sequence. Prototyping with UXPin gives you better results during usability testing so your UX team can solve issues before engineers develop the final product.


DesignOps must ensure that products are accessible for users with visual impairments. Designers often have to install plugins or export files to external tools to test for accessibility.

UXPin features a built-in contrast checker and color blindness simulator so that designers can test colors and interfaces inside the design editor. These built-in accessibility features ensure designers check their work without leaving UXPin, thus saving time and reducing accessibility issues.

Design Handoff

The design handoff is often the most tense and stressful part of the design process. UXPin automates mundane tasks like design specs, CSS, and style guides–minimizing the work designers have to do before handing off to engineers. 

You can also store assets and create written documentation inside UXPin, so developers don’t have to switch between cloud storage and word documents or PDFs–everything is in one place!

Looking Ahead

No matter the size of your organization, DesignOps can benefit your team immensely. An effective DesignOps strategy can promote collaboration, cohesion, consistency, and efficiency, not only for design but for the whole organization.

You’ve learned about DesignOps tools and how they can benefit design teams, but there’s a lot more to the DesOps methodology and thinking.

UXPin collaborated with six DesignOps leaders globally to create a free eBook: DesignOps 101: Guide to Design Operations. In the book, we cover the following topics:

  1. What is DesignOps?: Learn more about the roles and responsibilities of DesignOps specialists and how this discipline can resolve many design and business challenges.
  2. The Importance of DesignOps: See how DesignOps solve some issues, how to collaborate with your team better, and scale your design. Learn more about the needs of your team.
  3. Impact of DesignOps: A chapter written by Robin Klein Schiphorst – a DesignOps coach, explains how the discipline empowers designers and leaves you more time on what’s important.
  4. How DesignOps works: All about how to work together in the DesignOps mindset, harmonize, prioritize, and measure a team’s performance and capacity.
  5. How to get started with DesignOps in Your Company: Learn about implementing DesignOps in your team and organization. See what your roadmap and strategy should look like.
  6. DesignOps Tools (which we preview in this article): Discover tools that will help you optimize the performance of both design and product development teams. See which are suitable for project management and team-building.

Download your free copy to learn about the world of DesignOps and how to get started–no matter if you have 1 or 100 designers in your team!

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