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Inside Atlassian’s Design Teams

2 min read

Written by Ben Newton,

20 June, 2017


This episode is the first episode for series 2. If you’re like me, when you think of a company like GoogleFacebook or Uber you generally don’t think of the people within it. Maybe you think of their famous founders and project their personality traits onto an imagined company persona.

How do you scale from 6 designers to 120 without breaking things?

There is no better example of Atlassian’s rapid growth than the 4 year period from 2012 to 2016, when their design team grew from 6 designers to over 120. It goes without saying that what works for 6 designers probably doesn’t easily scale well for 120 designers. Adding another designer is more complicated than adding another web server.

The design leads at Atlassian were faced with several challenges. The first of which was how to best integrate the designers into their existing eco-system, this in isolation is a significant task. But adding to that was the logistical challenge of having teams dispersed over three locations – Sydney, San Francisco and Austin –  and three different times zones.

The question the Atlassian leads asked themselves was; “How do we ensure that knowledge and information are shared amongst teams in a smooth and natural way?“.

In this episode of True North we go inside the Atlassian design teams to see how they work and collaborate with other teams, products, locations and time zones.

We hear from different team members, learning about how they ensure that design, growth, user research and information experience all work together cohesively and ensure the correct problems are being addressed for their users.

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Originally published on True North.

Who is Atlassian?

If you don’t know the company name, you probably know their products. Their BitBucket product is Github’s biggest direct competitor. Their Jira Software Management System is a project management tool for agile teams used by the likes of eBay, Airbnb, and Spotify.

Their product line also includes Confluence and HipChat which aim to streamline sharing and collaboration within teams. There’s a lot going on.

With ten major products, millions of users and a 2015 IPO valuing the company at over $US4 billion, Atlassian has continually been challenged to evolve and adapt in the face of its unavoidable growth.

The userbase grows, teams grow, revenue rockets up, but everything needs to scale to keep up with demand and to continue serving customers at a high level. It’s a good problem to have

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