Building Design Systems for Scaling Companies – SF Talk Night Recap

By on in Design, Events, San Francisco

How can scaling companies maintain design consistency and quality as internal and engineering teams exponentially grow?

Last week, Carbon Five San Francisco hosted Talk Night to answer this question and to discuss the secret benefits of building design systems for growing companies. Our guest speakers included:

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Idea: GenServers with Map-based state

By on in Development, Elixir

I recently gave a talk at Empex LA in which I talked about my desire to see simplifications and enhancements to using some of the OTP behaviors offered in Elixir. In this post I’m going to explore a simple improvement to the GenServer API that would make it a little easier to work with.

GenServers are processes that have state that can be transformed when the GenServer receives a message. This state is represented in a single value that is passed into the handle_call or handle_cast function.

This is easy to manage if your GenServer only needs to manage a single piece of information. But as soon as you find that your GenServer needs multiple pieces of information in state, you need to substantially refactor it.

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Pairing Retro

By on in Development, Process

Back at my first job in tech, we paired 95% of the time. Many people were new to pairing. As it was my first job, I was relatively one of the more junior people on the team, which is an especially difficult position to be in for pairing. It was an incredibly intense experience for the whole team with many growing pains. There was a lot to navigate and no set-aside time or structure to do that, so I started having “pairing retros” with my teammates. It made pairing a lot more manageable and I started having better experiences with my pairs. It’s now something I’ve continued to do throughout my career.

The concept is fairly simple. Set aside a time when you’re not pairing, to talk about pairing.

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We Belong Together

By on in Design

Five Ways Junior and Senior Designers Can Work Together Effectively

Disclaimer – I am a designer so this is written for /designer pairs but it’s also relevant for any other Junior/Senior duos.

Hello, wonderful Junior/Senior design duos! Odds are you are fairly new to working together. Perhaps the junior designer is fresh out of school or the senior designer just got a promotion. Whatever the circumstances are, you are now buddies and will keep working together. So, let’s make sure that it is awesome!

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Sketched, not Stirred: Attempts to Host a Drink + Draw

By on in Design, Everything Else

This is the journal of two LA designers attempting to host a drink and draw series. But to start – why a drink and draw? As designers in an office of 20-ish developers, we felt lonely (or insane) cooing over our own grid paper. Some days felt like far too much screen time and an outright neglect of the peaceful ritual between pen and paper. We also like to drink. So in the spirit of team-bonding, an hour dedicated to both seemed like a much-needed refresher.

Enter our experiment: The Drink and Draw

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How to Present a Design Review

By on in Design

Arguably the most difficult skill you’ll learn in your design career is how to communicate that you did what you set out to do in a way that gets people to support and continue the work you did.

Presenting design successfully is about knowing what you want out of the meeting and structuring it to meet those needs. There’s a cliche of design reviews as interpersonally fraught spaces where stakeholders alternate between going on tangents and ripping your work apart. It doesn’t have to be that way.

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Happy Teams Build Great Products. Here’s How.

By on in Process, Product Management

Ever feel like your product team is not working to its full potential? Here at Carbon Five, we’ve worked with hundreds of product teams, and we wondered what differentiated strong teams from struggling teams.

Our curiosity drove us to create the Product Dartboard, a digital tool that helps teams identify their strengths, challenges, and blind spots, and provides teams with actionable steps to continuously improve.

Speaking of continuous improvement — we just released a few updates to the Dartboard. Now you can see a more detailed Dartboard report, facilitate a productive team discussion with our downloadable guide, and create your own follow-up assessments — which is critical to team success! Continue reading …


Channeled Procrastination

By on in Everything Else, Process

I procrastinate. In high school it was a huge issue for me, because as a high schooler I was still inexperienced at it. I frequently found myself in last-minute mode, moving swiftly from one self-induced crisis to another.

College wasn’t any better. The assignments were more spread out, but the due dates tended to be final due dates, whereas in high school there were usually several interim deadlines for milestones. Continue reading …


Designing for Engagement

By on in Design

One of the most interesting distinctions we make in design is between service design and engagement design. Service design is oriented around helping someone achieve a task. The interface that asks for information and prints your boarding pass is service design – it’s successful if you get through it without mistakes as quickly as possible. On the other hand, Engagement design is oriented around keeping people’s attention. If you’re binging a TV show, scrolling down a news feed, or liking your friend’s posts, you’re in an environment designed for engagement.

Designing for engagement means offering up lots and lots of content to keep people interested. A key performance metric for engagement design may be how many posts a user reads, or how many videos they go through without returning to the homepage or search. The end goal of both business and user is a steady flow of content that keeps a user’s attention. Continue reading …


Carbon Five Wins Amplitude Emerging Product Leaders Award

By on in Process, Product Management

We were honored to receive the award for Outstanding Product Agency in Amplitude’s Emerging Product Leaders Awards.

This award is for the agency that provides clients the best product development, growth, or strategy support. At Carbon Five, product managers help clients to transform their vision into reality. We also build high-performing teams, mentoring client PMs and leaders so that they can continue to build amazing things once we roll off the project. Continue reading …