Head of Digital Design
Head of Digital Design
- Hear from Didier, Designer at Canva
Hear from Didier, Designer at Canva
What attracted you to join Canva in the digital design team?
Before Canva I had always worked in agencies, where you have clients with a strict number of budgeted hours. You deliver the best work you can within the timeframe, then move onto the next project. While I enjoyed that challenge, I was ready for a change–I wanted to be able to spend more time thinking, designing, building, testing and iterating on each aspect of a project, and really delivering a polished product.
When I came across Canva it was a natural choice, because it’s a design company where good design is a core focus. I remember sending in my resume and I got an interview. This was back when the office was tiny, there were just over 20 people working here. When I came in, I wandered through the open office and was greeted by the whole team, like I was almost already part of it. There was a really friendly family vibe and a sense of energy–I could tell that everyone was working passionately.
What does a web designer do at Canva?
We work in small teams based around projects and goals. Web designers collaborate closely with frontend and backend engineers, copywriters and other stakeholders in various teams. We get to work on an extraordinarily wide range of projects which each have a big impact.
An example recently was building our Customer happiness portal to make sure millions of Canva users can quickly find the answer to any question. It was incredibly interesting to optimise and work on the content strategy, site architecture and search, making sure we have good navigation patterns and a fresh look. Another example would be our Learn platform. Learn is a blog dedicated to design, business, photography, and many other things to come. We’ve translated it into several languages to enable local teams to create their own content. It’s fantastic to see so many people (over 2 million every month) coming to our blog to get inspiration, resources and tips.
The community we have is amazing and it is quite incredible to see all the things we can do to help people in their everyday life. Canva is much more than just a graphic editing tool, we’re crafting an end to end experience from design inspiration to publication. That’s the core mission of the Digital Design team – to bring Canva to the people, create a community and to give people the inspiration and help they need to create stunning designs everyday, everywhere.
How is the Digital Design team structured?
The Digital Design team is spread across the Sydney and Manila offices, with our designers, frontend engineers and backend engineers embedded in many projects around the company. The idea is to have small, autonomous, empowered teams working towards a common goal.
We are always tweaking and adapting our workflows and processes as teams change and grow. Being adaptable and open to feedback is a core element of our culture. We have a weekly stand up as well as specialty catch-ups for disciplines like design and engineering . Most of our catch-ups are on Google hangouts as we have people spread across different locations, or over Slack for general communication on projects.
What technologies do you use on the Digital Design team?
On the design side we use Sketch. It’s very powerful these days, with lots of libraries and plugins, and it allows us to share our design system across different teams which speeds up the process and creates more consistency. We also use InVision to collaborate and share designs with stakeholders. Engineers can use InVision’s inspect mode to find specifications, and it helps us do user testing with a simple prototype.
On the engineering side we’re using WordPress as a CMS on many of our sites. Due the huge number of content creators we have across the globe, WordPress makes sense because it’s widely used and well known. We’re only using WordPress as a CMS though, we’ve built an independent front end in order to be able to have the most performant, consistent and tailored experience we can. We’re using React, our own component library and many other exciting things.
What projects have you been working on recently?
There are so many different projects, it’s quite hard to list them all! A constant job is building, optimising and improving the design of all our landing pages and public facing pages.
Currently we’re spending a lot of time on the Learn platform, and adding a recommendation engine to give users a personalised experience. It’s really about bringing information, tools and inspiration to our users, which is one component of the larger Canva mission of making design easy. Whether you’re providing templates within the editor or design inspirations on the Learn platform, everything we do removes one obstacle between great ideas and great published designs.
How would you describe the culture of the Digital Design team at Canva?
The team seems to double every few months, so you could say it’s growing and dynamic! There’s a really friendly vibe across the whole team. We all went to Manila together recently, because half of the digital design team is based there. We did some great activities together like go-karting and visiting this pristine beaches on Boracay island.
The team is very multicultural. We have people from all over the world – France, Brazil, Canada, Australia and the Philippines for example. We really value different perspectives and different viewpoints – there’s no “bad ideas” on the team, I always encourage everyone to speak up and discuss things. People are passionate about what they do, open and easygoing.