Inside The Design Processes At Netflix, Slack, Pinterest, And More


The design platform company InVision has released an intriguing report on how some of the world’s most innovative companies approach design. The Design Genome Project is an online resource describing the processes, organizational structures, and tool stacks (predictably heavy on InVision) at Netflix, Slack, Pinterest, Shopify, and Capital One, with more case studies coming soon. It’s manna for process nerds–and evidence of just how much effort successful companies sink into the design of design itself.

So how do the world’s top tech companies operate their design teams? Some highlights:

  • The e-commerce software company Shopify has an eminently poachable framework called GSD: “Get Shit Done.” Contrary to how it sounds, it gives designers and researchers the mental space to think, and encourages them to identify the exact problem that needs to be solved before sketching out solutions. “It’s designed to provide just enough process for a large company to work together, while still being action-oriented,” Lynsey Thornton, Shopify’s vice president of user experience, says.
  • Capital One has a fanatical approach to user research. The finance  giant has dedicated research labs for observing customers in lifelike scenarios–and the labs’ teams “operate like a startup accelerator within the broader company,” the InVision report says.
  • Slack, the company that sold the world on the merits of digital communication, starts design projects on paper. “It’s rare that people are so good with a tool that they can think within it,” senior product designer Diógenes Brito says. “Having squiggly lines on paper keeps you focused on real problems. You can move through ideas much faster, and there’s also something about the fact that a sketch is so clearly not the final product. People don’t get confused by the style and instead focus on the concept.”


Check out more from the Design Genome Project here.

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About Author

Suzanne LaBarre

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D. Magazine, and Metropolis.

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