Leading with Design Standards
One of my first projects after joining VMware in 2011 was to design a UI plug-for VMware’s server virtualization platform, vSphere. The plug-in needed to integrate a set of networking and security applications from a recent acquisition into the platform, so I had to understand the information architecture, look, and feel of the platform user interface. Today, in-house and 3rd-party developers can go to the UX Design Standards for vSphere Web Client to learn how to integrate an application into the VMware vSphere platform. Unfortunately, that documentation didn’t exist when I started the integration project. To understand which design patterns to follow, I relied on the platform UI team’s tribal knowledge and used a sandbox build to clarify interaction details. The platform UI architect quickly got used to me showing up at his desk, inquiring about the reasoning behind a given pattern so that I could intuit the principles I needed to make my own design decisions.
When the company embarked on a project to create the vSphere design standards in 2012, I joined its standards review board to help shape the content. My recent experience designing the UI plug-in came in handy during the board’s weekly meetings. When I saw how extensive and detailed the standards documentation was becoming, for example, I recommended that we include an Integration Compliance checklist so that plug-in developers would be able to verify that they’d properly addressed the most critical integration points without having to internalize all the documentation. The design standards are now publicly available online and serve as a reference for the entire developer ecosystem looking to build on top of the vSphere platform. I’m proud of the work because it is a multiplier for other teams’ success in creating a cohesive and consistent user experience.