Redesigning the Design Process
Great user experience and design are increasingly becoming critical points of differentiation for software companies. Cars were functional before they were cool. Clothes were functional before they were fashionable. Software is undergoing a similar transition from functional to fashionable. As a result, companies are hiring more designers, and a wider range of stakeholders (engineers, product managers, c-suite) are getting involved in the design process.
Team coordination, collaboration, and interpreting feedback are all crucial components of the design workflow, more so now than ever before. However, very little has been done in the past to help streamline and improve design processes. While the propensity for better communication and collaboration across design teams and other parts of the organization continue to increase, designers today still struggle with fragmented, siloed and inefficient workflows.
At ScaleVP, we recognized that designers needed a better way to collaborate and manage their work, which is why we’re excited to announce our $16M Series B investment in Abstract.
Abstract is a version-controlled workflow & collaboration platform for modern design teams. Abstract’s platform enables designers to easily access their team’s latest design components and collaborate on the same set of design files without the fear of overriding each other’s work.
Introducing the power of git to designers.
To compare, for software development, use of a version control system like Git is one of the most important tools you need to understand to work efficiently on a team. Git allows teams to do work on branches of a project, where there is only one single source of truth. This allows for a collaborative workflow where members on a team can tackle different parts of a project, at the same time, in their own environment. Ultimately, team members can merge their changes back into a masterfile.
Over time, Git has become central to a developer’s workflow, and gives stakeholders visibility into the development process. We believe that the power of git will also become core to a designer’s workflow.
Abstract has re-designed and re-purposed the power of git for the design workflow. With Abstract, designers can work in individual branches and sub branches, all while the team can maintain a single source of truth file. This prevents duplicative and overwritten work. Today, when multiple designers collaborate on a project, one designer needs to hold the masterfile and copy all the edits into that file, which is very error-prone. Additionally, traditional design systems give no visibility into the design process: what changed? who changed what? And how has the design evolved over time?
Design is a highly iterative process, and designers are constantly expanding and contracting workflow from various points of inspiration until they “get it right”. Without git, every point of experimentation is a "copy + save + naming of the file" with no ability to go back to a previous version, and no ability to compare and understand what changed from file to file. Before Abstract, there was no such thing as version control system for designers.
A system of record for all visual communication
Today, Abstract is focused on workflow & collaboration for modern design teams. The company has started with .Sketch files, but are focused on layering on new file type support as they continue to scale. In the future, we believe that Abstract can become the system of record that powers the workflow for all visual communication. It’s ambitious, but we couldn’t be more excited to partner with Josh Brewer and the rest of the Abstract team they continue to execute on their vision.
Originally published May 24, 2018.