Design Technologist Intern, Summer 2015
I spent three months at frog in Shanghai working on client projects and internal tools. It was an awesome opportunity and great learning experience, because it was my first time working as part of a design team. Prior to this, I was always considered that one engineer who could kind of design, too. Not any more. On this team, I was a designer who was also responsible for technical implementation, and I loved it.
Challenges: Due to the 12-week project timeline and the small team assigned to the project, there were a lot of stuff that didn't make it to the final release. Most of the time, it was up to the dev. team to limit scope and decide whether or not a particular concept was going to make it. I was also responsible for setting the project scope from an accessibility and performance standpoint, which made the design and development process harder in many cases. I don't think I'm going to try implementing an accessible, custom-styled input slider that looks consistent across browsers for a while.
My work at frog is covered by an NDA, so I can't share visuals, process shots, prototypes or any other details publicly. Drop me an e-mail (achalvv [at] gmail [dot] com) if you'd like to know more, and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
When I wasn't busy eating hot-pot...
I worked as part of a 10 person team consisting of a Creative Lead, a PM, a Senior Design Technologist, and visual and interaction designers. The goal of the 12 week project was to create a Design Language System and an accompanying living styleguide. This was the final phase of a service design project that frog was to deliver to the client. The DLS followed the Atomic Design ideology, with isolated components that could be dropped in into component groups, which in turn could be combined to form page sections. Page sections then came together to form templates that were re-usable, and were to be integrated with the client's existing CMS to allow them to customize them, add content and be able to add new pages to their website easily.
I led the development of several DLS components, and was responsible for coming up with plans to tackle the client's accessibility, browser support and performance requirements. I had a lot of autonomy as an intern, which I didn't expect when I first started at frog. I got to present a lot of my work directly to the client, and was also left in-charge of the technical implementation of the DLS when my teammate was out of the office for a few weeks. The a11y and web performance guidelines I wrote for the client are now used as a starting point for a lot of other projects at frog, which is pretty cool.
One of the things that made this project interesting was the fact that we had to design around technical constraints that we already had, intead of the other way around, which (from an engineering perspective) I've experienced way more often.
When I wasn't building styleguides...
Every so often, we'd have a few days in the middle of the project where we'd have the client over at the office to discuss progress on the project. Review days usually meant we were on a temporary design freeze. Whenever this happened, I picked up tasks on other projects. One of those was a then-defunct CMS which was used to display WIP mocks, prototypes and wireframes for a project in one place. I teamed up with another Design Technologist to build a new front-end for the CMS, and we eventually rewrote the CMS as a static-site generator so it'd be easy to deploy almost anywhere. This also meant that we could package it and send it across to the client whenever necessary.