All the design teams you might not know exist in tech

Think of a big tech or software firm, and roles like videographer, sound designer or content designer might not be the first thing to come to mind. However, at a company like Zendesk, in-house skills like these are integral to their output. So what does this look like day to day? And did you know that Zendesk hires full-time interior designers, photographers, and that someone’s fully in charge of presentation design? In an exclusive reveal of the inner-workings and roles making up a large tech workforce, we explore what Zendesk has to offer in terms of its many design teams.

*This article is part of our year-long partnership with Zendesk.

Brand Design

Examples of brand design elements at Zendesk

What does this team do?
A team specialising in brand design will work hard to ensure that the company’s brand story is consistent and authentic in every aspect of the business. No two days are the same for a brand designer, but rest assured that anyone who takes on this role has a genuine passion for design and creativity. Depending on the project at hand, the team can be working on creative advertising and marketing campaigns, designing events, spaces or formulating engaging content. This team also includes presentation designers, who provide designs, templates, tools and overall storytelling for the company to best communicate relevant information, whether in person or via a PDF document.

Key tasks

  • Research for inspiration

  • Developing brand strategies

  • Developing visual language and identities

  • Creating mood boards

  • Putting together pitch decks

  • Designing layouts

  • Artistic direction

  • Designing campaigns for advertising, billboards, emails and mail

  • Creating imagery, such as icons and illustrations

  • Designing presentations as PDFs and templates

  • Helping speakers prepare for a presentation

  • Crafting brand narratives


Roles within this team

  • Brand Designer

  • Senior Brand Designer

  • Associate Brand Designer

  • Art Director

  • Creative Director

  • Presentation Designer

Product Design

A product design sketch

What does this team do?
Product design is everywhere, from the table you might be sitting at, to the cup you sip from, or the apps you use on your phone. To be a product designer, you’ll be figuring out how things work, how they’re used and what they should look like. For Zendesk’s team of product designers, days are spent understanding the needs of their customers, building products that will help to make their work easier.

Key tasks

  • Creating design briefs

  • Working out solutions for products

  • Digital product design

  • Designing user interfaces

  • Developing product design strategy

  • Sketching out ideas, digitally or on paper

  • Wireframing

  • Prototyping

  • Designing user flows and journeys


Roles within this team

  • Product Designer

  • UX/UI Designer

  • UX Designer

  • Associate Product Designer

  • Lead Product Designer

  • Senior Product Designer

UX Research

Anna Lee Anda, Manager, UX Research, talking at an event

What does this team do?
The main responsibility of the UX Research team is to carry out just the right research, in order to come up with solutions that ensure a company’s product provides the best user experience. The team’s insights are often shared with product designers and strategists, in order for them to better understand and empathise with their users.

Key tasks

  • Interviewing customers (as well as pinpointing the right people to interview)

  • Conducting surveys and regular check-ins with customers

  • Setting up observation to understand how customers use a product or service

  • Finding sources of internal data to analyse

  • Analysing observations and data

  • Advising other teams on how to run research projects


Roles within this team

  • UX Researcher

  • Senior UX Researcher

  • Lead UX Researcher

  • Associate UX Researcher

  • Design Researcher

Content Design

Examples of guidelines used by content designers to keep copy on-brand

What does this team do?
The content design team works primarily with words to shape the conversations people have with products. This might mean crafting clear, compelling wording on a button, or a piece of text that helps you figure out what to do. A typical day for a content designer will vary, but you will often find them presenting a product story to designers, sketching a prototype or writing a chatbot script – all to make the customer experience feel enjoyable, easy and human.

Key tasks

  • Designing (with words) labels and concepts

  • Partner with product designers to shape the user experience, through language

  • Write in-product messaging, interface copy, product education materials, navigational nomenclature, and other content

  • Conduct audits of existing product language

  • Maintain and help teams evolve content standards


Roles within this team
  • Senior Content Designer

  • Lead Content Designer

  • UX Content Strategist

  • Associate Content Designer

  • Content Designer

Design Systems

Zendesk's design system is called Garden

What does this team do?
A design system is a shared language between software products. At Zendesk specifically, this system is called Garden. You can think of it as a library of reusable components – an open database for user interfaces (UI). For example, did you know that every designer uses the same basic building blocks for their UI? Garden comprises elements that live inside a design system – such as pre-built tooling and resources that empower teams to create consistent, easy-to-use and accessible products for users.

Key tasks

  • Design and create UI systems

  • Designing digital products

  • Collaborating with the product development, product design, content design and engineering teams

  • Working closely with the engineering team to ensure solutions are integrated, elegant and abstracted

  • Design micro interactions, transitions and animation for product touchpoints

  • Design icons, components and asset libraries, including documentationDesign and create UI solutions


Roles within this team

  • Product Designer, Design Systems

  • Senior Product Designer, Design Systems

  • Lead Product Designer, Design Systems

  • Associate Product Designer, Design Systems

Motion and Audio Design

A still from a Zendesk video using stop-motion animation, made by the team

What does this team do?
Motion design specifically, uses design principles of graphics – composition, balance, harmony, colour theory – to then add motion; while audio design is the art of using sound to tell a story, through recording, performing and manipulating sound effects. At Zendesk, this team will work on enriching projects concerning brand video, voiceover, product features and functionality and event design.

Key tasks

Motion design:

  • Animating, directing and editing motion content

Sound design:

  • Writing music

  • Searching for music to license

  • Recording voiceovers

  • Creating sound effects

  • Partner with video producer and editorial team to ensure solid post-production workflows and timely, on-budget deliveries

  • Provide animation consulting to Brand Team colleagues

  • Drive videos from concept, through script and visual development, to production and post


Roles within this team

  • Motion Designer

  • Senior Motion Designer

  • Lead Motion Designer

  • Motion Graphics Designer

  • Senior Motion Graphics Designer

  • Lead Motion Graphics Designer

  • Sound Designer

  • Senior Sound Designer

  • Lead Sound Designer

Video and Photography

What does this team do?
Zendesk hires a team of video and photography staff, which includes a mix of photographers, video editors, as well as specialists in art direction and creative direction. This team is suited to those interested in multimedia, storytelling or cinematic arts, as the company uses filmmaking and photographic techniques to help explain, represent and sell products.

Key tasks

  • Making animated explainer videos

  • Creating mini-documentaries or commercials

  • Taking headshots of the CEO to portraits of security guards or abstract still-lifes

  • Creating imagery for web pages, social media, digital banners, postcards, billboards and conference hall screens


Roles within this team

  • Creative Director

  • Art Director

  • Senior Photographer

  • Photographer

  • Supervising Video Editor

  • Senior Video Editor

  • Video Editor

Brand Experience Design

Designs for an event, created by the Brand Experience Design team

What does this team do?
The brand experience design team works on all of the visual components of branded events and spaces, from global user conference and trade show booths, to designing office spaces. This often starts with an event’s concept phase, and then extends to creating pre-event invites, a website, digital marketing and potentially an app. When working on location, this team will design everything from directional signage to stage backdrops, operations, posters, banners, wood finishes and furniture selection for the structures. The idea is to give attendees a great physical experience of the brand, maintaining a consistent look and feel across every element.

Key tasks

  • Events planning

  • Creating design kits

  • Building multi-functional assets for regional teams

  • Designing a broad range of materials: typography, images, backgrounds, as well as printed leaflets and banners

  • Creating relevant websites, marketing, apps and invites for events

  • Designing trade show booths

  • Designing the company’s office spaces

  • Selecting furniture and surface finishes for event spaces


Roles within this team

  • Brand Experience Designer

  • Senior Brand Experience Designer

  • Associate Brand Experience Designer

Interior Design

Examples of interior design at the Zendesk offices

What does this team do?
This team is responsible for delivering the creative vision for the company’s indoor physical spaces. They work to build aesthetically pleasant and functional environments that enhance the user experience. For Zendesk, which boasts offices worldwide, each of their spaces reflect the messaging and brand aesthetic of the company – achieved through curated layouts, as well as plants, lamps, artworks, wallpaper and wood finishes. The location also plays a vital part in how the office design turns out.

Key tasks

  • Meet with architects and visit building sites

  • Sketch the initial workplace layouts

  • Taking city tours with architect teams to find inspiration

  • Sourcing furnishing and decoration

  • Curating the aesthetics of a space

  • Documenting ideas

  • Collaborating with the Real Estate and Workplace teams to create office guidelines


Roles within this team

  • Interior Designer

  • Brand Manager

  • Art Director

  • Creative Director

Copywriting

Examples of copywriting in action

What does this team do?
Copywriting involves crafting words intended to make a sale, and most of the time, that means writing ads. Copywriters need to tap into people’s feelings, humour, style and panache in order to make a sale, as well as tell the story of a business in all but a few words. The ability to keep a message short, sweet and memorable is a key skill for any copywriter.

Key tasks

  • Writing copy for advertisements, publicity materials, videos, billboards,

  • Facebook ads, websites, cereal boxes, letters, emails etc.

  • Creating concepts for ad campaigns

  • Curating the story of the brand (i.e. Zendesk)

  • Use clear, simple and charming words to craft a message


Roles within this team

  • Copywriter

  • Senior Copywriter

  • Junior Copywriter

  • Principal Copywriter

  • Art Director

  • Creative Director

Design and Research Operations

As well as overseeing processes and logistics, the team also manage the public-facing website

What does this team do?
The core role of the design and research operations team is to establish efficient processes and logistical solutions that help keep all creative projects on-track. This means that the creative staff can simply focus on the creative task at hand, whether that be designing, writing or researching. At Zendesk, this team exists to provide support and harmony – which is achieved through overseeing the hiring and onboarding process, managing team communications, handling events and budgets, and much more.

Key tasks

  • Creating and running new design programmes

  • Allocating work and managing timelines for Product Design and Brand teams

  • Scheduling customer research interviews

  • Writing and updating internal documentation

  • Balancing budgets

  • Processing freelance contracts

  • Organising annual offsites

  • Planning community events

  • Creating learning and development opportunities


Roles within this team

  • Design Program Manager

  • Executive Assistant

  • Design Operations Director

  • Brand Producer

  • Senior Brand Producer

  • Associate Brand Producer

  • Producer, Product Design Operations

  • Senior Producer, Product Design Operations

  • Associate Producer, Product Design Operations

...

*Zendesk is a Creative Lives in Progress brand partner. Every year, we partner with like-minded brands and agencies to support our initiative and keep Creative Lives a free resource for emerging creatives. To find out more about how you can work with us, email [email protected]

Written by Creative Lives in Progress