Design-to-Dev: An Interview with Zeplin Product Designer, Stacy Pitman

User Stories
Welcome to the first edition of Zeplin’s Design-to-Dev interview series! In these fun weekly 1v1 chats, we get up-close with trendsetters who design and build beautiful products.
Kicking things off, we have our very own Stacy Pitman, Product Designer on Zeplin’s design crew. 🧡 We talk about: 
🕵️ Who Stacy is, what she’s working on, and what she draws inspiration from
🔮 What Stacy thinks the future of design-to-dev looks like
👾 What happens when we put Stacy in the Hot Seat
By the way, we’re not trying to be stuffy with these interviews — we’re talking to creators, after all! Enjoy Stacy’s hand-drawn (in MS Paint 🎨) Zeplin logo that she recreated live on the show, and read on for her interview…or scroll to the end for the full video!
hand drawn saas logo

About Stacy

Who are you, what do you do, and what are you working on? What's your day-to-day like?

I’m Stacy Pitman. I’m a product designer at Zeplin and I am currently working on some exciting new onboarding experiences for Zeplin!
My day-to-day very much depends on which day of the week it is. If you catch me earlier in the week then my day looks more split between design time and meetings to discuss designs and strategies. If you catch me on say, Thursday or Friday, I have more time to really think through any thoughts or ideas I have and see if any of those make sense. If they do, then I usually turn those into designs and then into a simple prototype to tell the story behind the flow and experience.

What are the core beliefs or experiences that have shaped you most as a designer?

I have always liked the quote from Henry Ford, “If I would have asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
This is what I try to think of when I am designing something, because it reminds me to think outside of the box when needed! That’s what I have always tried to do and it has allowed me to think of some pretty awesome experiences over the years.
I would say that my first UX related job was one of the best experiences and it really set me up for success in my career. The team I had and the work I was allowed to work on, along with the room to be creative was the key to where I am now!

Who/what is your inspiration?

As cheesy as it sounds, the users are my inspiration most of the time. I really try to understand how they use the product day to day and any pain points they have while doing even the most mundane things. This allows me to put myself more in their shoes and create those unique flows that solve their main problems in the most efficient way possible!

Design Process and Workflow

How is your relationship with your developers? What could be improved?

I would say there is a good relationship with developers in the sense of working together to make Zeplin the best that it can be.
I think there is always room to improve, which also applies here. So, I would say having developers in on the design ideas sooner would be very helpful. I actually have a viewpoint of working with PMs & Developers from the start so that we can create the best experiences together and avoid the pitfalls of working separately, like over designing or creating something that just is not feasible.

How do you organize your workspace now? Do you do so with devs in mind?

So, I will have to say it took a while to get organized within my design files. This was a struggle of mine, but as I learned more and worked with more than just designers, I found it was easier to keep a file that is ‘ready to share’ more organized and grouped together.
This is not directly because of developers, but it helps when things are more organized. I actually found that sharing a Figma file with a developer — even with everything seemingly organized to make logical sense — was still leading to questions. This led to kick off meetings to explain the screens and functionality before everyone started working or even estimating the work.
Now that I’ve been working at Zeplin I’ve actually found even more value in having a consolidated place to have your final designs that doesn’t require someone to understand how designers' tools work just to view it properly. You’d be surprised how many people are not used to a “never ending” canvas style view!

How is communication with devs different from communication with other designers?

There are so many things that can be said to a designer that a developer would not understand and vice versa. I think there are differences in the communication, but only in the words being used and not in how much or little it should happen.
I think that communication with devs could be just as often and as helpful as communicating with a designer. There are great ideas that come from anywhere and you could find that a dev has great insights because they would know how the backend works to make something happen and it can help make something more clear in your decision making process to show a dev the ‘why’ behind things!

Thoughts on the design industry (profession, AI, misconceptions about design-to-dev)

What does the future of design-to-dev look like in your opinion?

I would have to say that I hope it looks much more collaborative. Working together is underrated and not only the time saved in the whole process but the relationships and connections you can build while working together is amazing!
So, I look forward to a way to work together, but not necessarily all in the same main tool. I do not expect everyone to work within Figma, even if they ever have most of the capabilities for all the roles. It’s just trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole.

What do you think of AI in your field?

I think that AI can be useful, but I do not believe it will ever take over design altogether. There is too much creativity to leave it up to AI, unless you want everything to feel relatively the same all the time.
I think it could be used as more of a companion to the design process and help parsing data from numbers and research. This could free up the time it takes to summarize any findings and make that process faster overall.

What does the role of product designer look like vs. what people outside of the profession think it is or what it might have looked like before?

People on the outside of the profession usually have no idea what you are talking about. They tend to think in an “artsy” manner. So, they would see that you designed the visuals of something and not fully understand the experience and thought behind that.
I often get a confused look from people who do not understand what UX or Product design is. I usually try to relate with something they can easily understand, like an app they use a lot or just how they would use a smartphone.
I think if you are not in the profession or something that is related to software development then it will almost always be looked at as visual design instead of experiences…but that means we mostly have done a good job, because if you can’t notice it then it usually means it’s a good experience.

Do you think designers need to learn how to code?

I do not think designers need to learn how to code. While it is cool to think that someone could do it all, it begs the question for me if they should do it all. It is almost like creating silos if we do this.
However, I do think that it is beneficial to understand coding and the feasibility of things you are designing. This can make or break great ideas, especially if you do not communicate with developers from the start. That hand-off process will be filled with disappointments and compromises!

Rapid Fire Questions

Check out the video to see how Stacy answered these!
Are these fonts underrated or overrated (Inter, Helvetica, and Papyrus)?
If you had to guess, how many rectangles have designers created?
Describe your design-to-dev process in 3 words
If you could describe yourself in 1 word, what would it be?
If you could describe your design process in 1 word, what would it be?
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New to Zeplin? Here’s some recommended reading about how Zeplin helps thousands of product teams ship beautiful products:
If you'd like to see how Zeplin can improve your team's workflows, you can get started with a free Zeplin trial or learn more at an upcoming live group demo. Hope to see you there! 👋