Design Process

As each project is different, a lean design process will be formulated for each effort during the RFC stage. For example, if the risk associated with a design is low and the requirements are well defined, we will reduce or eliminate the research and testing phase to immediately begin design and development. If a project requires very little new design, we may rely on wireframes and opt to not produce visual designs. In these cases, our existing design system will help carry the project and ensure it meets visual standards.

Conversely, a large project with new page layouts, new technology or lightly defined requirements from customers may require a much larger design process.

All projects, no matter how small are hallway tested with internal users.

See the process segments section for more information.

Open and asynchronous design with synchronous reviews

All interested persons should be able to consume and comment on the output of the design team asynchronously.

While asynchronous communication is a core attribute of remote work, key moments such as research or wireframe and visual design reviews require a synchronous meeting. This is because design and workflow can be subtle, difficult to summarize and span multiple states or flows. To allow a more immediate and personal level of discussion of these key moments, artifacts will be made available for asynchronous review and a synchronous meeting will be held to allow the designer or researcher to present their efforts.

Process segments


  • This is generally represented by a kickoff meeting with interested parties. Kickoff meetings should generally include representatives of the following parties:
    • The product manager
    • Developers working on the project
    • Designers
    • Sales, ops and customer engineering staff who have insight into how this affects users
    • Customers if available
    • Stakeholders as required
  • Tools
    • Figjam is often used to collaborate on ideas and concepts
    • Figma can be used to generate wireframes, mood boards, and other artifacts


  • Interview internal users
    • As our users are developers, Sourcegraph developers make great interview subjects. However, we need to acknowledge that they do have biases about features and this research must be augmented
  • Interview external users
    • Where the project requires and time permits, conduct research with these users to inform your designs
  • Customer requests and support tickets
    • Our users are passionate and provide excellent feedback. Each project should utilize our collections of this feedback in Productboard
  • Analogous designs
  • Competitive designs
  • Usability tests
  • When updating existing product features, first conduct usability tests to inform redesign decisions
  • Process
    • A GitHub issue should be created to track the work
    • Research is conducted according to requirements
    • Findings publishing and review
    • Findings should be detailed in a Google doc and announced in the corresponding team channel or #product on Slack
    • Findings should contain a clear summary, links to resources and supporting data
    • Conduct a synchronous review meeting with key stakeholders based on the size of project or importance of findings
    • Schedule and conduct a presentation meeting with stakeholders where necessary
  • Tools
    • Google Docs
    • Google Forms for polls


  • Wireframes should utilize the Sourcegraph Figma component system
  • Wireframes should generally utilize realistic data and text for each element. In cases where many elements are required, ‘lorem epsum’ placeholder text will suffice if the initial or prominent elements are real data.
  • Process
    • A GitHub issue should be created to track the work
      • Label the issue with the design and/or ux label
      • TBD - how do we replicate pull request reviewers?
    • Wireframes are produced in Figma
    • Wireframes are announced in Slack and linked in the GitHub issue well before they are complete for review
    • Wireframes are hallway tested with internal users and product managers
    • Schedule and conduct a presentation meeting
    • Stakeholders will approve the GitHub issue indicating the designs are ready for the next phase
  • Checklist
    • Ensure designs meet Jacob Nielsen’s ten usability heuristics
    • Has the change’s effect on the CLI been considered?
    • Does the language in the UI map to the language in the CLI?
    • Does the documentation reflect the change?
    • Light mode / Dark mode
    • Enterprise / Cloud
    • Signed in vs. anonymous user
    • User permissions
    • Interactive mode / plain text mode
    • TBD - add a standard UX checklist
  • Tools
    • Figma


  • Process
    • A GitHub issue should be created to track the work
    • Testing is conducted according to requirements
    • Publish testing results summary to google drive
    • Announce results in slack
    • Create a GitHub issue to address items in the test results
  • Tools

Visual design

  • Product design should utilize the Wildcard Design System

  • Dark compositions will be created for each major design

  • If new components are required, the following process should be followed:

    • Design component in the Figma file which requires it
      • If creating a component make sure it is prefaced by ’_’ so that it is not used while in review
    • Create a proposal frame with the following items:
      • Proposal name and description
      • If changing a component, provide an example screenshot of the existing component
      • Link to a Sourcegraph search showing affected areas of the product
      • Screenshots of current product usage
      • A design that represents the suggested change
      • A clear verbal description of the suggested changes
    • @ mention a frontend engineer requesting an addition or change to the component system
      • Engineering will approve, requests changes, or request that the designer uses an existing component
    • @ mention a designer and request a review
    • Create a GitHub issue for the component
    • When the GitHub issue is complete:
      • Remove the ’_’ from the component name
      • Add the component to the Figma component system
      • Publish changes with a fitting commit message
  • Improvements to the Sourcegraph user experience should consider the following in every change:

    • Has the change’s effect on the CLI been considered?
    • Does the language in the UI map to the language in the CLI?
    • Does the documentation reflect the change?
    • Light mode / Dark mode
    • Server / Cloud
    • If Cloud: Signed in vs. anonymous users
    • User permissions
  • Process

    • A GitHub issue should be created to track the work
    • Designs are produced in Figma
    • Let others know about your designs in your team Slack channel and in the product-design channel and other places of interest
    • Link to your designs in the GitHub issue before they are complete to promote designing in the open
    • Ensure designs meet the visual design checklist:
    • Ensure spacing is consistent and matches the 8pt grid system
    • Ensure text, colors and other styles match existing styles, if possible.
      • Introduce new text styles only if really necessary.
      • If adding new styles, ensure that they meet our accessibility standards and add them to the design system.
    • Review designs for accessibility:
      • Color blind check
      • Contrast check should meet AA standard for small text
    • Schedule and conduct a design presentation meeting if the size of the project requires
    • Receive sign-off from stakeholders
    • If components were created in the visual design process, when the designs are signed off on, those components will be moved to the Sourcegraph component system
    • Prepare redlines or an interaction delivery writeup for the engineers. Consider the following:
      • Margin and padding
      • Animation
      • Links and hover states
    • Describe expected behavior of layout for tablet and mobile screen-sizes
    • Due to the low number of mobile and table visitors (< 3%) design comps for these sizes are generally not required
    • Schedule a meeting with engineers to discuss the interaction
  • Tools

    • Figma

Metrics collection

  • The definition of success for a project should be defined in each project’s RFC or Product Document. This definition should include events which can be collected and measured to evaluate outcomes.
  • The locations and interaction moments where these events will be collected often must be defined within design files.
  • To define a metric, designers should use a metric card from the project tools library. These cards help standardize the names and description of metrics across the product.
  • Follow the guidelines for naming events when defining an event
    • If a large number of events are being collected, consider creating a Metrics page Figma to identify the locations and interactions where events will be collected
    • Metrics review
      • Consider requesting a review of your metrics definitions from the analytics team before the project goes to development.


  • Designers will review metrics and determine if their designs are meeting objectives set for them.
  • If areas for improvement are found, tickets will be created to document the change required to improve the issue

Final review of implementation

  • Test the feature for both themes, Light and Dark.
  • Review icon consistency and contrast across themes.
  • Test on small, medium, large and extra-large screen sizes.
    • Small screens are important to consider for a good experience when the window is resized or in side-by-side mode.
  • Code examples in design
    • Font should be “code font” or monospace.
    • Easy to copy and paste (no fancy quotes).

Working with design files

To provide consistency in design files handling, follow the rules listed below.

File location

All files should be created under the Sourcegraph organization in Figma. It is important to not work on Sourcegraph projects in the private files as designs should be accessible to all Team Members.

Naming convention

All the files containing current project work must follow this naming structure:

RFC or GitHub issue number + RFC or GitHub issue title + stage (Draft, Open to review, Final review or Approved).

Keep the stage updated as you progress with your work.

Project Tools

Use Project Tools to provide more information about the project directly in the Figma file. It will help all the visitors connect files to the related RFC or GitHub issue and understand better all the details about the design.

  • Project Card - displays basic information about the project. For example, reviewers, RFC and GitHub issue links, and deadlines. It should be created for every file.

  • Project Introduction - necessary when sharing your prototype with the Team. It should contain details about the target audience and project goals, to provide good context before starting the review.

  • Changelog - it is used to track key design decisions and the reasoning behind them throughout the project. It is a source of truth for how the project evolved. Changelog keeps all the information in one place, so it’s easier to review and understand them during the project and when the team is working on the next iteration.

  • Final Page - placed at the end of the prototype. It shows additional notes on the solution, points out the most important pages in the prototype and describes what feedback the designer is looking for. It also instructs reviewers on how to leave comments.

File structure

Pages are a great way to divide the content into smaller chunks and lower the complexity of your design files. Use the following file structure to help teammates quickly orient in your designs.

Divide work into the following pages:

  • Research
  • Flowcharts
  • Wireframes
  • Master (Visual Design)
  • Changelog
  • Archives

Use only pages that are necessary for your file. Tasks within the linked issue should be updated with links to each of the corresponding pages.