Atomic Design principles </img>

Ever since I started working at MYOB, one of the biggest challenges the company faces is consistency. Not just from a visual standpoint (which in itself is incredibly challenging when you have multiple products in three different cities and for a long time there, being the only visual designer in the company), but in terms of re-usable, robust components for the devs which ideally minimize efforts required and help achieve that consistency.

Luckily, MYOB understands what is required to make the consistency drive better and there is a real passion to improve the way we work as a company as a whole, myself included. I often get in amongst the many teams, see how I can improve not just the consistency but also the communication between teams. Having that birds-eye view somewhat using Slack when communicating with remote dev and UX teams or going up to people, face-to-face, means the re-iteration of this message is happening constantly to those who can really help make the consistency drive achievable. I’m not going to lie and say we’re doing a perfect job just yet but the efforts to get there are always improving.

I implemented a style guide of re-usable HTML and CSS elements during 2015 called which in essence is what the product UX/design team wanted to get out there to help push more consistency within our products. Many of the visual styles already existed when I started and implemented this living style guide and it’s very much a v1.0 but it’s already a place devs can go to to make sure all the visual styles are more consistent. It’s always evolving, things get added regularly as our needs change but it’s far from perfect. When I look at the recent Salesforce style guide, I see we have a lot of work to do. But plans are in motion to get something as robust and detailed as this as well as a plethora of other resources.

v2.0 discussions are well underway including using React re-usable components, better front-end guidelines, expanding how the design teams work, and much, much more (which I can’t talk about right now). Let’s just say what we have is a great start because MYOB has never had something like this in the past and it’s already been widely adopted by many teams within the organisation.

At times, you feel like ultimately, it would be so robust and the holy grail of pattern libraries, that a UX designer could simply sketch a problem and the devs could just use what’s in Feelix and make it perfect. Playing devil’s advocate here but I question whether that would ever happen, especially in such a complex machine that is MYOB. I can only speculate too, that many other product companies face the same problems. I feel like right now, many companies are trying to nail this one. But we must always push to improve. One thing we rarely do is look back at where we were 1 to 5 years ago but when we do, we realise we’ve actually made significant steps forward. And at my time so far at MYOB, that’s definitely been the case.

Visual Atomic Design

On a closing note, I just want to make mention of Atomic Design and just how challenging it is to make the visuals work (ie look decent) in any scenario for multiple products. So far, I don’t think we’ve nailed it with our current styles and I think it requires a lot of testing and exploration, but I’m also keen to test some methods in brand-new designs this year to see how it can be more achievable going forward. Personally, that’s where I’m happiest, exploring and testing where we could be, but with pieces already in play, and with the lessons we’ve learned along the way, I’m confident significant improvements will happen in 2016.