Season 3

|

Episode 4

Going from product designer to software designer

David Hoang

VP of Marketing and Design @ Replit

Oct 26, 2023

Oct 26, 2023

|

62 min

62 min

music by Dennis

About this Episode

In this Deep Dive, David Hoang gives us a peek into where he thinks the industry is headed and how product designers can prepare for the future. We talk about:

  • What AI in Figma might look like

  • How to create a more accessible web

  • The rise of the design founder

  • How dynamic interfaces impact design systems

  • Why the title โ€œsoftware designerโ€ is trending up ๐Ÿ“ˆ

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Free lessons from the top designers ๐Ÿ‘‡

Fonz Morris

Lead monetization designer @ Netflix

Mia Blume

Past leader @ Pinterest, Square

Jorn van Dijk

CEO @ Framer

Femke

Design lead @ Gusto

Kenny Chen

UX lead @ Google

Join 8K+ designers

HC

HC

HC

HC

Deep Dives

Get every episode

Free lessons from ๐Ÿ‘‡

Fonz Morris

Lead designer @ Netflix

Mia Blume

Past leader @ Pinterest, Square

Femke

Design lead @ Gusto

Kenny Chen

UX lead @ Google

Join 8K+ designers

HC

HC

HC

Deep Dives

Get every episode

Free lessons from the top designers ๐Ÿ‘‡

Fonz Morris

Lead monetization designer @ Netflix

Mia Blume

Past leader @ Pinterest, Square

Jorn van Dijk

CEO @ Framer

Femke

Design lead @ Gusto

Kenny Chen

UX lead @ Google

Join 8K+ designers

HC

HC

HC

HC

Transcript chapters

Welcome to Deep Dives with David Hoang

I think maybe that's one thing that's like really encouraging for people. If you're kind of feeling like, Oh my God, what do I do with all this AI stuff? I just learned how to lay out and fig about it. And I feel so behind is that these paradigms just become equalizers for everyone, right? Like even, even someone who's been in this industry for like 20 years, you're like, I don't know what's going to happen.

Welcome to deep dives. My name is Ridd and this is where we go deep with the best designers. So that you can learn from their journey and apply it to your own career. Today, I'm talking with David Hong, who's the VP of Marketing and Design at Repl. it. And before that, he was the Head of Design at Webflow.

Now, he's also a writer, and his newsletter, Proof of Concept, has shaped much of my thinking about the future of design. So this conversation is very forward looking. We talk about how AI will shape the role of product designer, the future of design tooling, and we even pretend to be PMs at Figma. But first I wanted to start this conversation with one of my favorite topics, dynamic interfaces.

Welcome to Deep Dives with David Hoang

I think maybe that's one thing that's like really encouraging for people. If you're kind of feeling like, Oh my God, what do I do with all this AI stuff? I just learned how to lay out and fig about it. And I feel so behind is that these paradigms just become equalizers for everyone, right? Like even, even someone who's been in this industry for like 20 years, you're like, I don't know what's going to happen.

Welcome to deep dives. My name is Ridd and this is where we go deep with the best designers. So that you can learn from their journey and apply it to your own career. Today, I'm talking with David Hong, who's the VP of Marketing and Design at Repl. it. And before that, he was the Head of Design at Webflow.

Now, he's also a writer, and his newsletter, Proof of Concept, has shaped much of my thinking about the future of design. So this conversation is very forward looking. We talk about how AI will shape the role of product designer, the future of design tooling, and we even pretend to be PMs at Figma. But first I wanted to start this conversation with one of my favorite topics, dynamic interfaces.

How dynamic interfaces will impact product design

Yeah. So [00:01:00] dynamic interfaces to me is a concept that I think a lot of people know. Jordan Singer, who was at diagram now at Figma working on AI tools. Uh, I was inspired by that, that name he coined and, you know, we may have different like descriptions of it. But for me, when I think about dynamic interfaces, it's when.

Now with AI, it's more possible for the interface itself to be a little bit more reactive and responsive in real time. And I think those are some of the things that's really interesting about AI. It's just like, there's the spatial context, device context, identity. And in this continuous runtime, the UI can iterate itself too.

So we as designers are so used to like, okay. You know, we ship this thing to production, we test it, we AB test it, we get user feedback and it comes back [00:02:00] and then we iterate on it. It's all manual. And I think in a world where, uh, personalization and spatial context with like multi devices, it's going to be really key for UI to be able to adapt within itself.

And I think there's a world where you might have. Like a UI that's personalized to like your own theming. You know, we're starting to see a lot of apps be able to like provide custom themes and maybe that changes on the go. Maybe it's certain types of curation you have. So I think it's almost in a way thinking about like a UI being, being sentient now, right.

Or kind of being more organic than just this static, like piece of UI software that, uh, that's, that doesn't change. I feel like the. The, the time in which it changes will, um, will be a lot more rapid. So that's kind of what I mean by dynamic [00:03:00] interfaces. I really like this connection between dynamic interfaces and a more personalized internet.

Like that's the word that kind of. Sticks out to me and you and a few other people have made the connection to arc boosts, which I do kind of think is like the first little teaser of what that might look and feel like. And on one hand, it's like really exciting as a user on the other. It's a little bit scary for the role of a designer.

Cause like I got tired of the LinkedIn blue and I made it purple and it broke some things and now all the emojis are purple and it kind of looks weird. And so there's this like. Loss of control, almost, for the person who's actually, like, authoring the UIs. How do you think this change impacts the role of a product designer?

Yeah, that's interesting. I think for me, it's like, in a lot of ways, we've been through this before, right? And I think sometimes we forget what we've been through. Or, you know, maybe we're in [00:04:00] the part of our career where we haven't experienced that. But do you remember, like, when, uh, when Apple, uh, killed Flash?

And then there was, like, all these things that we had to kind of change, uh, you know, with the internet. Like, um, how we, how we designed sites and experiences. Uh, you know, dark mode then became a thing that could, like, could change. Like, a lot of things broke. I think something like this is gonna happen too.

And, um, you know, I think... Yeah, ArcBoost is such a great example. They're doing incredible work there. Uh, of course, many people bring up, uh, like, this is a very old school reference, but Winamp, right? Being able to, like, customize anything and everything to your liking, and people talk about MySpace, and it's really interesting how, like, these old, like, principles of the internet are starting to kind of come back, like, because I don't know if there's, like, a more Like research interests in it, or if like the technology makes it so you can do it more at scale.

So I think for product designers, [00:05:00] I think a lot of what I kind of say is like, you should think about what, what should be designable, what should be configurable. Right. And you know, there's probably some things you may not want an open ended canvas for people to customize. Right. And you kind of have to think about like the rules.

Of that ecosystem of like, hey, what can the end user control, you know, and what are things that should be expressed by human can be expressed by the AI and really think about that. But that's kind of how I think about that. It's just like, okay, you know, there is a world where your brand guidelines might have just a certain level of control and then the rest might be, you know, adaptive to the end user.

So it's something I think we've been through before. Yeah. But it's just gonna get, like, a lot more, uh, a lot more complex, you know, in terms of, like, what can be customizable.

How dynamic interfaces will impact product design

Yeah. So [00:01:00] dynamic interfaces to me is a concept that I think a lot of people know. Jordan Singer, who was at diagram now at Figma working on AI tools. Uh, I was inspired by that, that name he coined and, you know, we may have different like descriptions of it. But for me, when I think about dynamic interfaces, it's when.

Now with AI, it's more possible for the interface itself to be a little bit more reactive and responsive in real time. And I think those are some of the things that's really interesting about AI. It's just like, there's the spatial context, device context, identity. And in this continuous runtime, the UI can iterate itself too.

So we as designers are so used to like, okay. You know, we ship this thing to production, we test it, we AB test it, we get user feedback and it comes back [00:02:00] and then we iterate on it. It's all manual. And I think in a world where, uh, personalization and spatial context with like multi devices, it's going to be really key for UI to be able to adapt within itself.

And I think there's a world where you might have. Like a UI that's personalized to like your own theming. You know, we're starting to see a lot of apps be able to like provide custom themes and maybe that changes on the go. Maybe it's certain types of curation you have. So I think it's almost in a way thinking about like a UI being, being sentient now, right.

Or kind of being more organic than just this static, like piece of UI software that, uh, that's, that doesn't change. I feel like the. The, the time in which it changes will, um, will be a lot more rapid. So that's kind of what I mean by dynamic [00:03:00] interfaces. I really like this connection between dynamic interfaces and a more personalized internet.

Like that's the word that kind of. Sticks out to me and you and a few other people have made the connection to arc boosts, which I do kind of think is like the first little teaser of what that might look and feel like. And on one hand, it's like really exciting as a user on the other. It's a little bit scary for the role of a designer.

Cause like I got tired of the LinkedIn blue and I made it purple and it broke some things and now all the emojis are purple and it kind of looks weird. And so there's this like. Loss of control, almost, for the person who's actually, like, authoring the UIs. How do you think this change impacts the role of a product designer?

Yeah, that's interesting. I think for me, it's like, in a lot of ways, we've been through this before, right? And I think sometimes we forget what we've been through. Or, you know, maybe we're in [00:04:00] the part of our career where we haven't experienced that. But do you remember, like, when, uh, when Apple, uh, killed Flash?

And then there was, like, all these things that we had to kind of change, uh, you know, with the internet. Like, um, how we, how we designed sites and experiences. Uh, you know, dark mode then became a thing that could, like, could change. Like, a lot of things broke. I think something like this is gonna happen too.

And, um, you know, I think... Yeah, ArcBoost is such a great example. They're doing incredible work there. Uh, of course, many people bring up, uh, like, this is a very old school reference, but Winamp, right? Being able to, like, customize anything and everything to your liking, and people talk about MySpace, and it's really interesting how, like, these old, like, principles of the internet are starting to kind of come back, like, because I don't know if there's, like, a more Like research interests in it, or if like the technology makes it so you can do it more at scale.

So I think for product designers, [00:05:00] I think a lot of what I kind of say is like, you should think about what, what should be designable, what should be configurable. Right. And you know, there's probably some things you may not want an open ended canvas for people to customize. Right. And you kind of have to think about like the rules.

Of that ecosystem of like, hey, what can the end user control, you know, and what are things that should be expressed by human can be expressed by the AI and really think about that. But that's kind of how I think about that. It's just like, okay, you know, there is a world where your brand guidelines might have just a certain level of control and then the rest might be, you know, adaptive to the end user.

So it's something I think we've been through before. Yeah. But it's just gonna get, like, a lot more, uh, a lot more complex, you know, in terms of, like, what can be customizable.

Moving toward a more accessible internet

Yeah, and, you know, it's easy to point to things like theming [00:06:00] changing, and having it be kind of fun, and it kind of feels like MySpace, and Play, and all those kind of things, but Something that you're a proponent of that I'm really interested in is this idea of Dynamic interfaces, a more personalized internet, ultimately being a catalyst for a more accessible internet, which I think is like a really important angle to think about for all of this.

So maybe, can you unpack that a little bit and share some of the ways that you see that coming to fruition? I think what happened in like what people like to call web 2. 0, like in like the late two thousands, early 2010s is. a lot of things became like very graph oriented, right? So like people stopped making personal websites and they had a Facebook account or had a Twitter account.

And now all of a sudden, like all this engagement were really kind of gated in some of these, um, social networks, which I think, you know, [00:07:00] there's a lot of positive that came from that. But I think what What we lost is someone being able to like self host and self express in a way they want to, where they have complete ownership.

And you know, there, there's a lot of exploration with that, with like blockchain technologies. And I think with, um, with AI too, I think there's going to be more people are going to be more resourced to be able to create these sort of things. So, you know, if I wanted to create, My own, like, RSS reader to kind of curate the things I want to see in the internet that I want to build.

Uh, that's going to be more possible for people. So, it'll be interesting to see, like, what happens to, like, a lot of SaaS software, right? And there's, like, uh, you know, there's going to be, like, personal software as a service, too, for people. Web3 is not really a buzzword anymore, but in the back of my head, I kind of do wonder, like, actually is...

Are some of the technological advancements with [00:08:00] AI going to make some of those ideas relevant? And even tying it back to the accessibility idea, like, Man, if I was able to declare, like, Hey, I am, uh, maybe I'm colorblind. Or maybe I have motor deficiencies. And be able to input that at, like, the system level and have the websites that I use automatically respond according to...

My needs using these like dynamic interfaces and having the AI tweak Relevant pieces of the UI to meet my needs that starts to get pretty exciting Yeah, I'm super excited about that. And and you know, that's actually an example I used in like what I wrote about dynamic interfaces because I'm colorblind so I think you know, I and I think Apple does such a great job with like The accessibility, um, like at the system level, like what if we could do that across all software stacks, right?

Moving toward a more accessible internet

Yeah, and, you know, it's easy to point to things like theming [00:06:00] changing, and having it be kind of fun, and it kind of feels like MySpace, and Play, and all those kind of things, but Something that you're a proponent of that I'm really interested in is this idea of Dynamic interfaces, a more personalized internet, ultimately being a catalyst for a more accessible internet, which I think is like a really important angle to think about for all of this.

So maybe, can you unpack that a little bit and share some of the ways that you see that coming to fruition? I think what happened in like what people like to call web 2. 0, like in like the late two thousands, early 2010s is. a lot of things became like very graph oriented, right? So like people stopped making personal websites and they had a Facebook account or had a Twitter account.

And now all of a sudden, like all this engagement were really kind of gated in some of these, um, social networks, which I think, you know, [00:07:00] there's a lot of positive that came from that. But I think what What we lost is someone being able to like self host and self express in a way they want to, where they have complete ownership.

And you know, there, there's a lot of exploration with that, with like blockchain technologies. And I think with, um, with AI too, I think there's going to be more people are going to be more resourced to be able to create these sort of things. So, you know, if I wanted to create, My own, like, RSS reader to kind of curate the things I want to see in the internet that I want to build.

Uh, that's going to be more possible for people. So, it'll be interesting to see, like, what happens to, like, a lot of SaaS software, right? And there's, like, uh, you know, there's going to be, like, personal software as a service, too, for people. Web3 is not really a buzzword anymore, but in the back of my head, I kind of do wonder, like, actually is...

Are some of the technological advancements with [00:08:00] AI going to make some of those ideas relevant? And even tying it back to the accessibility idea, like, Man, if I was able to declare, like, Hey, I am, uh, maybe I'm colorblind. Or maybe I have motor deficiencies. And be able to input that at, like, the system level and have the websites that I use automatically respond according to...

My needs using these like dynamic interfaces and having the AI tweak Relevant pieces of the UI to meet my needs that starts to get pretty exciting Yeah, I'm super excited about that. And and you know, that's actually an example I used in like what I wrote about dynamic interfaces because I'm colorblind so I think you know, I and I think Apple does such a great job with like The accessibility, um, like at the system level, like what if we could do that across all software stacks, right?

AI is an evolution in manufacturing

And I think the thing that's really interesting [00:09:00] with AI and the thing I'm curious of like how it's going to become is like, you know, are we going to see these AI capabilities like, you know, there's a lot of like vertical integration with it, but what about horizontal across like all other? Um, tools. So imagine if there's a world where you kind of had like these sort of like preferences are associated to let's say your designer profile, but you go into Figma or Webflow, Framer, and it all kind of has that awareness of like what you prefer in that sort of workspace.

I think that, um, I think that gets really interesting. You know, I kind of see AI is like an evolution in how we manufacture things. Uh, so for example, I always use like, uh, t shirts as an example. Like, you could get a shirt from Target. You could get a shirt from, like, Louis Vuitton. You could get a shirt from someone, a DIY one, right?

[00:10:00] It's all the same sort of material in the output, but there's like a certain reason people want to... People see a certain type of value associated with it, right? And the value could be it's affordable, the value could be... It's high end or this person made this. I think that's going to be the same thing about software, too.

So like there are, you know, like indie designers and developers that I personally support because I'm like, I'm a huge fan of the software they build, too. So this whole like, it is kind of wild because it's like all these buzzwords are like kind of converging together, right? You kind of have like the web3, you have the creator economy, and I think there is this sort of, sort of form of like patronage for Personalized software, like people who pay for newsletters, it's all kind of like just kind of collide together and I think there's kind of this whole world of like how we view labor, how we view work and just how, you know, how people think of that, you know, so you might be, you know, there may be a world where you have a full time job, um, but you have some [00:11:00] like agents working for you, like with some of these like AI software that you're building.

Uh, that you can make money on this side, or you have a bunch of those. Like, I think the way we think about, like, a career and work is going to be drastically different. It's a little scary, but it's also like, you know, it's like, uh, you know, AI is just like a really powerful tool to, to maximize, like, human ability.

It reminds me of this tweet that I saw that I kind of forgot about, which is, basically the question was like, what's the equivalent of that handmade stamp that you would see on a consumer product in an AI world for software? I'd like to think about that too. It's like, will we, will we pay a premium knowing that there was a human behind there that crafted every little detail when that becomes the minority use case?

It's kind of interesting to think about. Yeah. And I think in, in a lot of ways. [00:12:00] Because if, let's, let's presume if AI has the ability for us to produce goods at scale, right, it's almost like the, the replicator from Star Trek and, but then if something is kind of handmade or something that has this sort of like more intentional manual work to it, like there may be something where the value of that like inherently increases as a result of access to other things.

So I think, I think. Originality in something that's like, I do think there's a world where you're going to have like, uh, Artisanal software, right? Like, this is something like a certain, a certain designer built this software or like created this theme. And because it was completely human made, there's a certain value to it that people like want.

So, I like to believe in a world there could be a win win with that, right? So the things that people Just need to get done can really be automated and some of this stuff. And then the [00:13:00] things that where there's a lot of care and like high value to it, like it's gonna be like elevated even even more because of like the way it was created.

AI is an evolution in manufacturing

And I think the thing that's really interesting [00:09:00] with AI and the thing I'm curious of like how it's going to become is like, you know, are we going to see these AI capabilities like, you know, there's a lot of like vertical integration with it, but what about horizontal across like all other? Um, tools. So imagine if there's a world where you kind of had like these sort of like preferences are associated to let's say your designer profile, but you go into Figma or Webflow, Framer, and it all kind of has that awareness of like what you prefer in that sort of workspace.

I think that, um, I think that gets really interesting. You know, I kind of see AI is like an evolution in how we manufacture things. Uh, so for example, I always use like, uh, t shirts as an example. Like, you could get a shirt from Target. You could get a shirt from, like, Louis Vuitton. You could get a shirt from someone, a DIY one, right?

[00:10:00] It's all the same sort of material in the output, but there's like a certain reason people want to... People see a certain type of value associated with it, right? And the value could be it's affordable, the value could be... It's high end or this person made this. I think that's going to be the same thing about software, too.

So like there are, you know, like indie designers and developers that I personally support because I'm like, I'm a huge fan of the software they build, too. So this whole like, it is kind of wild because it's like all these buzzwords are like kind of converging together, right? You kind of have like the web3, you have the creator economy, and I think there is this sort of, sort of form of like patronage for Personalized software, like people who pay for newsletters, it's all kind of like just kind of collide together and I think there's kind of this whole world of like how we view labor, how we view work and just how, you know, how people think of that, you know, so you might be, you know, there may be a world where you have a full time job, um, but you have some [00:11:00] like agents working for you, like with some of these like AI software that you're building.

Uh, that you can make money on this side, or you have a bunch of those. Like, I think the way we think about, like, a career and work is going to be drastically different. It's a little scary, but it's also like, you know, it's like, uh, you know, AI is just like a really powerful tool to, to maximize, like, human ability.

It reminds me of this tweet that I saw that I kind of forgot about, which is, basically the question was like, what's the equivalent of that handmade stamp that you would see on a consumer product in an AI world for software? I'd like to think about that too. It's like, will we, will we pay a premium knowing that there was a human behind there that crafted every little detail when that becomes the minority use case?

It's kind of interesting to think about. Yeah. And I think in, in a lot of ways. [00:12:00] Because if, let's, let's presume if AI has the ability for us to produce goods at scale, right, it's almost like the, the replicator from Star Trek and, but then if something is kind of handmade or something that has this sort of like more intentional manual work to it, like there may be something where the value of that like inherently increases as a result of access to other things.

So I think, I think. Originality in something that's like, I do think there's a world where you're going to have like, uh, Artisanal software, right? Like, this is something like a certain, a certain designer built this software or like created this theme. And because it was completely human made, there's a certain value to it that people like want.

So, I like to believe in a world there could be a win win with that, right? So the things that people Just need to get done can really be automated and some of this stuff. And then the [00:13:00] things that where there's a lot of care and like high value to it, like it's gonna be like elevated even even more because of like the way it was created.

How AI will impact design systems

I'd like to talk a little bit about design systems and AI because I could see an argument where I would push us to maybe one. Or, you know, either end of this spectrum, which is basically like on one side, maybe AI just eats design systems and maybe even the role of a design system designer, because it's already pretty good at creating components and it's only going to get better on the other side of the spectrum.

I think you could also make the case that AI more so just redefines what we think of as a design system and like drastically expands. The boundaries of what is encompassed in a design system where maybe that role is preserved, but it's more about empowering AI to generate these interfaces on the fly and respond to user [00:14:00] needs.

What's your take on that? Like, how do you see AI impacting the way that we currently think about design systems and the role of that person in the org? So there's something really fascinating. I was, um, I'm in San Francisco right now, and on Wednesday, uh, Noah Levin from Figma was giving a talk, and he was talking a little bit about how Figma thinks about AI and their design systems, too.

And, uh, you know, they basically have a role. Like someone like Jordan, uh, who's thinking of like AI design that sits on like the team that thinks about design systems too. So I think the insight I took from that is that like AI is kind of a way to kind of scale a lot of the work that you do in design systems, right?

And you You talk to any design systems designer and there's so much manual work they have to do, right? They're like, okay, I have to like update all these, all these variables manually. Gotta pull people in to like think about like, okay, which corner radius should we use? And then, oh, [00:15:00] also make sure I'm like updating all the documentation with the engineering team.

How AI will impact design systems

I'd like to talk a little bit about design systems and AI because I could see an argument where I would push us to maybe one. Or, you know, either end of this spectrum, which is basically like on one side, maybe AI just eats design systems and maybe even the role of a design system designer, because it's already pretty good at creating components and it's only going to get better on the other side of the spectrum.

I think you could also make the case that AI more so just redefines what we think of as a design system and like drastically expands. The boundaries of what is encompassed in a design system where maybe that role is preserved, but it's more about empowering AI to generate these interfaces on the fly and respond to user [00:14:00] needs.

What's your take on that? Like, how do you see AI impacting the way that we currently think about design systems and the role of that person in the org? So there's something really fascinating. I was, um, I'm in San Francisco right now, and on Wednesday, uh, Noah Levin from Figma was giving a talk, and he was talking a little bit about how Figma thinks about AI and their design systems, too.

And, uh, you know, they basically have a role. Like someone like Jordan, uh, who's thinking of like AI design that sits on like the team that thinks about design systems too. So I think the insight I took from that is that like AI is kind of a way to kind of scale a lot of the work that you do in design systems, right?

And you You talk to any design systems designer and there's so much manual work they have to do, right? They're like, okay, I have to like update all these, all these variables manually. Gotta pull people in to like think about like, okay, which corner radius should we use? And then, oh, [00:15:00] also make sure I'm like updating all the documentation with the engineering team.

How AI impacts the broader market for design

Like, what if that could all be automated, right? And I think, uh, you know, in a world of like dynamic interfaces, maybe it's more that these sort of... like decisions or factors of conversation is like push to the humans to make decisions on that versus like having to identify that. So I do think there's a world where my hope is that AI kind of takes away the boring manual stuff that most design systems people may not love doing.

And presenting it in a way where they can scale themselves. So maybe design systems teams are more leaner, right? Uh, I actually think like every team is going to be a little bit more leaner with AI, uh, but that's not necessarily a bad thing because I do feel there's going to be like more companies created from AI.

So like, you know, we talk a lot about internally. It's like, what if the fortune 500 were 500 people, like [00:16:00] individuals, as opposed to like these giant companies. And that's going to be a world where, you know, since you can do more with less, there's other areas to, uh, explore, you know, and I think that's the thing when we think about, like, the startup ecosystem too, it's like, there's not enough good ideas, right, or not enough people exploring it, but now that people have the means to be able to do that, we're going to have such a wide range of, like, other things to explore.

So I do think those are kind of two things that, I don't like to try to predict things, but I could see it kind of trending that way. It's like, you know, some of the manual work in design systems goes away. It's a little bit more automated and perhaps teams are leaner because they can do more in that regard.

I'm really glad you brought that up because I think it's pretty easy to make the case for leaner teams, but I so rarely hear the like equal and opposite reaction, which is basically. Okay. Maybe each individual team is [00:17:00] leaner, but the overall demand for design will increase as a result of AI. Like we're going to have more companies, but also the cost of software starts to approach zero.

And as that happens, you have more companies who previously wouldn't have considered themselves a software company being able to make the jump and actually like pursue a digital product as like a core part of their offering. And so from a macro perspective, like that is something I have been trying to like beat that drum whenever I can.

It's like. Yeah, it's just a redistribution of talent, in some ways, and not a constraint on the overall demand for design, so. Yeah, that's right. I think, um, you know, my hypothesis on this is because, um, you know, in the past year, um, you know, it's the end of 2023 as we're recording this, uh, the industry is just Gone through a really hard time with layoffs, companies downsizing.

So I think you add that with kind of like people talking about [00:18:00] leaner teams, maybe people feel scared that there's going to be less opportunities. But to your point, I think, you know, we're seeing a lot of these things, uh, start to bloom. So, you know, like from these sorts of things that are really sad, I think like opportunity opens up, it just takes a little bit of time, but you starting to see a lot of these, um, I've seen a lot of designers, uh, get laid off and then, um, you know, instead of finding another role, they, because of like, you know, what they're equipped to do or, uh, you know, just people kind of looking for more ideas and companies, they're, they're starting their own companies, right?

How AI impacts the broader market for design

Like, what if that could all be automated, right? And I think, uh, you know, in a world of like dynamic interfaces, maybe it's more that these sort of... like decisions or factors of conversation is like push to the humans to make decisions on that versus like having to identify that. So I do think there's a world where my hope is that AI kind of takes away the boring manual stuff that most design systems people may not love doing.

And presenting it in a way where they can scale themselves. So maybe design systems teams are more leaner, right? Uh, I actually think like every team is going to be a little bit more leaner with AI, uh, but that's not necessarily a bad thing because I do feel there's going to be like more companies created from AI.

So like, you know, we talk a lot about internally. It's like, what if the fortune 500 were 500 people, like [00:16:00] individuals, as opposed to like these giant companies. And that's going to be a world where, you know, since you can do more with less, there's other areas to, uh, explore, you know, and I think that's the thing when we think about, like, the startup ecosystem too, it's like, there's not enough good ideas, right, or not enough people exploring it, but now that people have the means to be able to do that, we're going to have such a wide range of, like, other things to explore.

So I do think those are kind of two things that, I don't like to try to predict things, but I could see it kind of trending that way. It's like, you know, some of the manual work in design systems goes away. It's a little bit more automated and perhaps teams are leaner because they can do more in that regard.

I'm really glad you brought that up because I think it's pretty easy to make the case for leaner teams, but I so rarely hear the like equal and opposite reaction, which is basically. Okay. Maybe each individual team is [00:17:00] leaner, but the overall demand for design will increase as a result of AI. Like we're going to have more companies, but also the cost of software starts to approach zero.

And as that happens, you have more companies who previously wouldn't have considered themselves a software company being able to make the jump and actually like pursue a digital product as like a core part of their offering. And so from a macro perspective, like that is something I have been trying to like beat that drum whenever I can.

It's like. Yeah, it's just a redistribution of talent, in some ways, and not a constraint on the overall demand for design, so. Yeah, that's right. I think, um, you know, my hypothesis on this is because, um, you know, in the past year, um, you know, it's the end of 2023 as we're recording this, uh, the industry is just Gone through a really hard time with layoffs, companies downsizing.

So I think you add that with kind of like people talking about [00:18:00] leaner teams, maybe people feel scared that there's going to be less opportunities. But to your point, I think, you know, we're seeing a lot of these things, uh, start to bloom. So, you know, like from these sorts of things that are really sad, I think like opportunity opens up, it just takes a little bit of time, but you starting to see a lot of these, um, I've seen a lot of designers, uh, get laid off and then, um, you know, instead of finding another role, they, because of like, you know, what they're equipped to do or, uh, you know, just people kind of looking for more ideas and companies, they're, they're starting their own companies, right?

The rise of the design founder

So we're starting to see a lot more design founders too, which is exciting. So it's almost like. Uh, you know, completely new. Like the goal isn't necessarily to, um, rescale to where we were. The goal is to kind of like adapt to this new world and yeah, if there's a team of like, you know, maybe you used to need a team of 50 designers to do a certain type of work and maybe all you [00:19:00] need is 10 now.

And as a result of that, you know, more designers are going to other companies to, to help scale design. So, so it's a win win, but I think just like. Um, you know, we've 2020s have been like just compounded with like, yeah, tough thing after tough thing. So I think with AI, like, you know, if I, I would have came at a place where the, um, the world wasn't as chaotic, maybe there would be a different sort of like sentiment to it.

But I think just as it rose while people were losing jobs to maybe that was the thing that was really hard for people to grasp or feel scary. Let's inject a little bit more optimism really quickly. Yeah, yeah. Because someone out there is listening. Yeah. And, I don't know, maybe they're not even in the role right now.

Or maybe they're not 100 percent fulfilled. Or maybe they just have ideas for, like, what they think needs to exist in the world. And are kind of, like, considering, like, maybe I could be someone that could [00:20:00] make this jump. Let's, can you just encourage that person? Like, why do you think designers... Well suited to be founders and, and what are the, uh, aspects of this?

Like, you know, these coming years that are going to empower more and more designers to actually make the jump and put something out into the world and start working for themselves. If you really think about it, like designers because of like our purpose and, and what we do to bring value to, uh, our end users, customers, and ultimately the business.

We see everything end to end. So when you think about design founder, and I think this is why, you know, it's important to have design executives too, is to be able to think about company building, like designers are some of the best company builders because as a founder, that is kind of your role, [00:21:00] right?

You got to do everything from setting up a Um, all the financials to the onboarding, hiring processes, and all the things that come with scaling and startup. And I think when you have a designer, um, apply that they apply that design lens, like everything in the company, it really fundamentally changes like how a company operates.

Right. I think the classic one, I think a lot of us really admire right now is linear. like thinking about how they run everything from, from a design lens. And I think that's the opportunity for design designers. You know, there's always that classic, like design wants to see the table. Uh, and now a lot of people are just building one, right?

I'm going to construct, I'm bringing other people to this table. Right. That's, that's super exciting. So I think like, you know, for people who. are very entrepreneurial. It, it naturally gravitates towards that. I think also it's like being entrepreneurial is learnable [00:22:00] too, right? It's something that you can, uh, kind of learn on the job.

But I think that's what's super exciting is like, you know, in, in my entire career, I haven't seen as many like design investors and design founders who are starting to kind of like, uh, surface from all this. So it's going to be like a really exciting time. So I think for anyone who's like, Like, yeah, just like maybe just the weight of like everything's felt discouraging.

There's a lot of promise and like, uh, what's blooming from that too. So I feel like, I feel like every week or every month I'm hearing like a designer maybe like start their own, uh, agency again or starting their own like, uh, startup idea too. I've never heard someone say entrepreneurship is learnable before.

Can you explain that a bit more? Like what are the ways that a designer could start to invest in those entrepreneurial skills that might bear fruit, you know, a year or two from now when they're actually making that jump? Yeah, totally. Um, [00:23:00] you know, one of the traits I actually look for a lot when interviewing designers to join.

When I run teams at a, like an early stage startup is just like, not that this is a requirement, but if I've seen they've started their own business before, or if they started a side project, I'm really keen to learn more about what they experienced through that time and it's because you have to kind of go through the ins and outs of like how a company works, right?

Not at the maybe scale of a larger company, but you learn like how to do. Thank you. annual planning, you learn how to do BizDev marketing and, and all the works. And I think that's what I mean by it being completely learnable for people too. So I think, you know, anyone who, um, you know, kind of feels like not knowing where to start, I think a lot of it could be, you know, starting a side project and just kind of like really something that's like, how do I.[00:24:00]

Learn about that whole life cycle of starting a business, right? Whether it's like forming the LLC and starting to like build a product around it too. Um, you know, like early in my career, like the first decade of my career has been like mainly, um, you know, in the Mac and iOS ecosystem. And I always said I learned so much just by building an app and submitting it to the app store, understanding how to like sell and monetize that.

So I think that's like, there's a lot of different. like approaches you can take to kind of learn entrepreneurship, but it's something where, uh, you know, I'm always a big believer of just doing something small to kind of learn the lessons from that. So yeah, I think there's like, those are kind of like a few things that come to mind for me.

Yeah, it's definitely the ultimate learn by doing and That's right, that's right. A few weeks ago I was just talking with Adrian, who's a founding designer at Linear, and he said the same thing. He said, the thing that they look for at Linear is have you put something. To the market before. Like, have you shipped something, [00:25:00] gotten real user feedback, worked through that process of marketing, and positioning, and responding to, like, that initial, like, what's the market say?

And, you're right, like, it doesn't have to be that big. But, I fully believe that everyone should have, like, a launch day under their belt. Like, it's so awesome. Even just, you know, stepping it back from, like, the skills building side of it too, like, it's just a lot of fun. It's a lot of fun. Yeah. Yeah. You said something earlier and like this little part of my brain has still been processing it.

The rise of the design founder

So we're starting to see a lot more design founders too, which is exciting. So it's almost like. Uh, you know, completely new. Like the goal isn't necessarily to, um, rescale to where we were. The goal is to kind of like adapt to this new world and yeah, if there's a team of like, you know, maybe you used to need a team of 50 designers to do a certain type of work and maybe all you [00:19:00] need is 10 now.

And as a result of that, you know, more designers are going to other companies to, to help scale design. So, so it's a win win, but I think just like. Um, you know, we've 2020s have been like just compounded with like, yeah, tough thing after tough thing. So I think with AI, like, you know, if I, I would have came at a place where the, um, the world wasn't as chaotic, maybe there would be a different sort of like sentiment to it.

But I think just as it rose while people were losing jobs to maybe that was the thing that was really hard for people to grasp or feel scary. Let's inject a little bit more optimism really quickly. Yeah, yeah. Because someone out there is listening. Yeah. And, I don't know, maybe they're not even in the role right now.

Or maybe they're not 100 percent fulfilled. Or maybe they just have ideas for, like, what they think needs to exist in the world. And are kind of, like, considering, like, maybe I could be someone that could [00:20:00] make this jump. Let's, can you just encourage that person? Like, why do you think designers... Well suited to be founders and, and what are the, uh, aspects of this?

Like, you know, these coming years that are going to empower more and more designers to actually make the jump and put something out into the world and start working for themselves. If you really think about it, like designers because of like our purpose and, and what we do to bring value to, uh, our end users, customers, and ultimately the business.

We see everything end to end. So when you think about design founder, and I think this is why, you know, it's important to have design executives too, is to be able to think about company building, like designers are some of the best company builders because as a founder, that is kind of your role, [00:21:00] right?

You got to do everything from setting up a Um, all the financials to the onboarding, hiring processes, and all the things that come with scaling and startup. And I think when you have a designer, um, apply that they apply that design lens, like everything in the company, it really fundamentally changes like how a company operates.

Right. I think the classic one, I think a lot of us really admire right now is linear. like thinking about how they run everything from, from a design lens. And I think that's the opportunity for design designers. You know, there's always that classic, like design wants to see the table. Uh, and now a lot of people are just building one, right?

I'm going to construct, I'm bringing other people to this table. Right. That's, that's super exciting. So I think like, you know, for people who. are very entrepreneurial. It, it naturally gravitates towards that. I think also it's like being entrepreneurial is learnable [00:22:00] too, right? It's something that you can, uh, kind of learn on the job.

But I think that's what's super exciting is like, you know, in, in my entire career, I haven't seen as many like design investors and design founders who are starting to kind of like, uh, surface from all this. So it's going to be like a really exciting time. So I think for anyone who's like, Like, yeah, just like maybe just the weight of like everything's felt discouraging.

There's a lot of promise and like, uh, what's blooming from that too. So I feel like, I feel like every week or every month I'm hearing like a designer maybe like start their own, uh, agency again or starting their own like, uh, startup idea too. I've never heard someone say entrepreneurship is learnable before.

Can you explain that a bit more? Like what are the ways that a designer could start to invest in those entrepreneurial skills that might bear fruit, you know, a year or two from now when they're actually making that jump? Yeah, totally. Um, [00:23:00] you know, one of the traits I actually look for a lot when interviewing designers to join.

When I run teams at a, like an early stage startup is just like, not that this is a requirement, but if I've seen they've started their own business before, or if they started a side project, I'm really keen to learn more about what they experienced through that time and it's because you have to kind of go through the ins and outs of like how a company works, right?

Not at the maybe scale of a larger company, but you learn like how to do. Thank you. annual planning, you learn how to do BizDev marketing and, and all the works. And I think that's what I mean by it being completely learnable for people too. So I think, you know, anyone who, um, you know, kind of feels like not knowing where to start, I think a lot of it could be, you know, starting a side project and just kind of like really something that's like, how do I.[00:24:00]

Learn about that whole life cycle of starting a business, right? Whether it's like forming the LLC and starting to like build a product around it too. Um, you know, like early in my career, like the first decade of my career has been like mainly, um, you know, in the Mac and iOS ecosystem. And I always said I learned so much just by building an app and submitting it to the app store, understanding how to like sell and monetize that.

So I think that's like, there's a lot of different. like approaches you can take to kind of learn entrepreneurship, but it's something where, uh, you know, I'm always a big believer of just doing something small to kind of learn the lessons from that. So yeah, I think there's like, those are kind of like a few things that come to mind for me.

Yeah, it's definitely the ultimate learn by doing and That's right, that's right. A few weeks ago I was just talking with Adrian, who's a founding designer at Linear, and he said the same thing. He said, the thing that they look for at Linear is have you put something. To the market before. Like, have you shipped something, [00:25:00] gotten real user feedback, worked through that process of marketing, and positioning, and responding to, like, that initial, like, what's the market say?

And, you're right, like, it doesn't have to be that big. But, I fully believe that everyone should have, like, a launch day under their belt. Like, it's so awesome. Even just, you know, stepping it back from, like, the skills building side of it too, like, it's just a lot of fun. It's a lot of fun. Yeah. Yeah. You said something earlier and like this little part of my brain has still been processing it.

When designing with AI gets weird

So I'm actually gonna just like, I want to go back really quickly. Because you talked about this idea of like a scaling the design system designer. And we talk about product designers a lot of times as like the voice of the user. You made me think like, man, I wonder if like the future role of a design system designer is actually kind of like the voice of the AI in some ways, like really understanding the capabilities of the AI, what it needs, what it [00:26:00] is good at, how it can like build within the system and, you know, like the, the core product trellis that we've created.

Do you have any thoughts on that? It's just been kind of buzzing in my head a little bit. Oh man, I, I have a lot of thoughts on this and it can get, it can get a little weird too because I think it's just like a world where, look, I think, I think when you kind of stack rank the, the priorities of values for me, I still think very much one kind of like human relationships.

Uh, but I think, I do think there's a world with AI as it becomes more advanced and more human-like. And more self-aware in a lot of ways. I would be interested to see how that relationship forms. Right. Is it kind of like that with a, a domesticated pet or something like that? , like I know, like I'm telling you, it's [00:27:00] gonna get weird, but I think like, I think is there, I often think about this 'cause I'm like, is there a world where like the AI is your collaborator and.

Um, but what does that world look like when there's more intelligence around it? Like, like, okay, I'm just going to say, it's like, what would it be like if an AI said no to like what you want it to do because of these reasons, because of like what it, what the inputs and trained is trained on. Right. And I was like, what if like.

Could AIs go on strike? Like, what are, what are these possibilities? Who knows, right? I'm not going to say like, like what might happen, but based on that principle I kind of think about what, you know, like, um, you know, Repl. it, we talk about like AI being your programmer, or you know, could be your collaborator, the same way like, uh, Like, uh, you know, it could be a junior engineer, like [00:28:00] doing production stuff for you, or it could be like a senior engineer helping you think about architecture and that sort of aspect.

Uh, I do think there's a world where we almost view the AI as like another input of collaboration along with the teams, right? So right now in the world, a lot of what we're interacting with right now is like one to one, right? Like person to AI. Uh, but is there a world where like AI is part of multiplayer and what does that kind of look like with team dynamics?

How do we make decisions with that? So I do think there's going to be a role or like really deep consideration on like, you know, working with AI in the open, like what does that kind of look like and really think about some of those inputs. So, um, you know, I think with, uh, Um, you know, most AI I'm interested in is on kind of like the application UI layer.

So when we get [00:29:00] into language models, it's, you know, it's kind of beyond kind of my, my expertise. But I do think there's a world where it's like, um, yeah, just kind of like, okay, you have this AI collaborator, like, what do they care about? How do they make decisions? Right. If like, there's a world where.

Things become more agentic and automated in that way, there's going to, there needs to be parameters, right? And it's thinking about like, um, and like, what are the parameters of decision making or recommendation for an AI? I, I certainly think, uh, there's a role to kind of consider that because again, it can get pretty weird.

You know, it can get pretty weird and, you know, may seem weird now, but. Years from now, it may just kind of be part of, like, our everyday. So, you know, this is why I think, you know, when designers ask me, like, Should I be learning [00:30:00] about A. I. or thinking about A. I.? There's such different sentiments and feelings on that.

I'm always a person that's like, the role of designers is to be, to be early adopters in those things that could feel, you know, it could get gross or it could, you know, just really where things aren't like, Define yet, because we need to play a part in like defining, like how we approach approach to these things.

I want to go a little deeper on this because I think it's much easier to understand what AI looks like as a daily collaborator when you're an engineer. Because Copilot's pretty good. And, I, you know, people talk about what that would look like for design and how AI would impact the day to day of design.

Some people kind of go down the path of like, well, it's about, you know, automation and linting. And other people like to talk about like, well, it's just, you know, 10x ing your ideation in the early stages [00:31:00] of a product and scaling creativity. , I've played with , like basically every AI generative tool that I can get my hands on and like my number one takeaway is, at least for design, it's still first inning.

When designing with AI gets weird

So I'm actually gonna just like, I want to go back really quickly. Because you talked about this idea of like a scaling the design system designer. And we talk about product designers a lot of times as like the voice of the user. You made me think like, man, I wonder if like the future role of a design system designer is actually kind of like the voice of the AI in some ways, like really understanding the capabilities of the AI, what it needs, what it [00:26:00] is good at, how it can like build within the system and, you know, like the, the core product trellis that we've created.

Do you have any thoughts on that? It's just been kind of buzzing in my head a little bit. Oh man, I, I have a lot of thoughts on this and it can get, it can get a little weird too because I think it's just like a world where, look, I think, I think when you kind of stack rank the, the priorities of values for me, I still think very much one kind of like human relationships.

Uh, but I think, I do think there's a world with AI as it becomes more advanced and more human-like. And more self-aware in a lot of ways. I would be interested to see how that relationship forms. Right. Is it kind of like that with a, a domesticated pet or something like that? , like I know, like I'm telling you, it's [00:27:00] gonna get weird, but I think like, I think is there, I often think about this 'cause I'm like, is there a world where like the AI is your collaborator and.

Um, but what does that world look like when there's more intelligence around it? Like, like, okay, I'm just going to say, it's like, what would it be like if an AI said no to like what you want it to do because of these reasons, because of like what it, what the inputs and trained is trained on. Right. And I was like, what if like.

Could AIs go on strike? Like, what are, what are these possibilities? Who knows, right? I'm not going to say like, like what might happen, but based on that principle I kind of think about what, you know, like, um, you know, Repl. it, we talk about like AI being your programmer, or you know, could be your collaborator, the same way like, uh, Like, uh, you know, it could be a junior engineer, like [00:28:00] doing production stuff for you, or it could be like a senior engineer helping you think about architecture and that sort of aspect.

Uh, I do think there's a world where we almost view the AI as like another input of collaboration along with the teams, right? So right now in the world, a lot of what we're interacting with right now is like one to one, right? Like person to AI. Uh, but is there a world where like AI is part of multiplayer and what does that kind of look like with team dynamics?

How do we make decisions with that? So I do think there's going to be a role or like really deep consideration on like, you know, working with AI in the open, like what does that kind of look like and really think about some of those inputs. So, um, you know, I think with, uh, Um, you know, most AI I'm interested in is on kind of like the application UI layer.

So when we get [00:29:00] into language models, it's, you know, it's kind of beyond kind of my, my expertise. But I do think there's a world where it's like, um, yeah, just kind of like, okay, you have this AI collaborator, like, what do they care about? How do they make decisions? Right. If like, there's a world where.

Things become more agentic and automated in that way, there's going to, there needs to be parameters, right? And it's thinking about like, um, and like, what are the parameters of decision making or recommendation for an AI? I, I certainly think, uh, there's a role to kind of consider that because again, it can get pretty weird.

You know, it can get pretty weird and, you know, may seem weird now, but. Years from now, it may just kind of be part of, like, our everyday. So, you know, this is why I think, you know, when designers ask me, like, Should I be learning [00:30:00] about A. I. or thinking about A. I.? There's such different sentiments and feelings on that.

I'm always a person that's like, the role of designers is to be, to be early adopters in those things that could feel, you know, it could get gross or it could, you know, just really where things aren't like, Define yet, because we need to play a part in like defining, like how we approach approach to these things.

I want to go a little deeper on this because I think it's much easier to understand what AI looks like as a daily collaborator when you're an engineer. Because Copilot's pretty good. And, I, you know, people talk about what that would look like for design and how AI would impact the day to day of design.

Some people kind of go down the path of like, well, it's about, you know, automation and linting. And other people like to talk about like, well, it's just, you know, 10x ing your ideation in the early stages [00:31:00] of a product and scaling creativity. , I've played with , like basically every AI generative tool that I can get my hands on and like my number one takeaway is, at least for design, it's still first inning.

The future of authoring tools

Like nothing really feels that close to having a meaningful impact on my day-to-day. But let's like talk about that a little bit. Like when you think about this idea of like AI as a collaborator, do you have any thoughts on the. What the breakthrough use cases might be for design and like what some of those first ways might look like where we actually are Using AI as designers day to day in our role Yeah, um, I can start with What I think and I feel pretty bold about this.

So where I think this is gonna go is I think at some point a Lot of these authoring tools are gonna be one thing I don't [00:32:00] think we're going to have a design authoring experience, developer authoring experience, written authoring experience. And it's just like all one thing. And based on what you're trying to do, there's certain like modalities to that.

And I think that's where it gets really, really exciting too. And I think I get a feeling with this when I play around with JamBot too, just on fake jam and thinking about like, you know, AI is like a co brainstormer, right? Not just, um, yeah, great for linting and some of the automations. But like while I'm in the work to be like, I'm trying to, and this is where I think natural language is interesting.

It's almost like the same way we like ask another designer in Slack or in in, in a Figma comment like, Hey, I'm kind of stuck exploring this. Like anyone have, like any inspiration they want to pull in or things that, um, the, the company [00:33:00] has explored in the past. Right? And if there, what if there's a way to kind of like pull that all up and be able to explore that while you're authoring.

And I think that's the thing that I believe is really important is just like, like how does AI kind of like. Work within flow state as opposed to being, you know, some panel or something different app that you're kind of going to access to, but being able to have that context in what you're trying to design and build and help you right there.

So I think that's one is just kind of the, um, you know, being generative, like in context of what you're trying to do. I think the other one that, um, I think would be pretty exciting is, um, uh, AI really helping you give feedback on what might happen. So, what I mean by that right now is like, a lot of these generative tools, [00:34:00] um, It's like A to Z, right?

You're like, the way you get the feedback loop is you have to like run the entire thing. Yeah. And see it happen. You're like, nope, that's not what I wanted. You build like a 15 screen flow to realize that you were completely off. Yeah. You're like, okay, that took a lot of time, you know? But what if like, you know, in a world where like AI authoring tools could really, Again, just kind of thinking in different parameters, different like possibilities and explorations.

And you're able to kind of like scrub the timeline of like, Okay, these are the types of things I want to refine based on what's being generative in that regard to then, like, get the output that I want, right? Or maybe I want, like, three different outputs, um, based on these screens that I have to create this type of, um, experience.

And it can kind of generate that. I think that's going to be... Like, the game changer for me with designers. It's like, it's kind of [00:35:00] like, uh, Um, not directly, but I think a lot of people know, uh, Brett Victor's, like, Inventing on Principle. Like, where he's got the principle of like, Uh, the creator being able to see feedback and like, you know.

What will happen in the compiler or like that, there's, there's probably like a design equivalent for that and like building software. So it's like, okay, instead of like, you know, and this could be, uh, images to like, instead of like running the entire thing, I want to see the different possibilities and get feedback along the way to get like a more refined output.

The future of authoring tools

Like nothing really feels that close to having a meaningful impact on my day-to-day. But let's like talk about that a little bit. Like when you think about this idea of like AI as a collaborator, do you have any thoughts on the. What the breakthrough use cases might be for design and like what some of those first ways might look like where we actually are Using AI as designers day to day in our role Yeah, um, I can start with What I think and I feel pretty bold about this.

So where I think this is gonna go is I think at some point a Lot of these authoring tools are gonna be one thing I don't [00:32:00] think we're going to have a design authoring experience, developer authoring experience, written authoring experience. And it's just like all one thing. And based on what you're trying to do, there's certain like modalities to that.

And I think that's where it gets really, really exciting too. And I think I get a feeling with this when I play around with JamBot too, just on fake jam and thinking about like, you know, AI is like a co brainstormer, right? Not just, um, yeah, great for linting and some of the automations. But like while I'm in the work to be like, I'm trying to, and this is where I think natural language is interesting.

It's almost like the same way we like ask another designer in Slack or in in, in a Figma comment like, Hey, I'm kind of stuck exploring this. Like anyone have, like any inspiration they want to pull in or things that, um, the, the company [00:33:00] has explored in the past. Right? And if there, what if there's a way to kind of like pull that all up and be able to explore that while you're authoring.

And I think that's the thing that I believe is really important is just like, like how does AI kind of like. Work within flow state as opposed to being, you know, some panel or something different app that you're kind of going to access to, but being able to have that context in what you're trying to design and build and help you right there.

So I think that's one is just kind of the, um, you know, being generative, like in context of what you're trying to do. I think the other one that, um, I think would be pretty exciting is, um, uh, AI really helping you give feedback on what might happen. So, what I mean by that right now is like, a lot of these generative tools, [00:34:00] um, It's like A to Z, right?

You're like, the way you get the feedback loop is you have to like run the entire thing. Yeah. And see it happen. You're like, nope, that's not what I wanted. You build like a 15 screen flow to realize that you were completely off. Yeah. You're like, okay, that took a lot of time, you know? But what if like, you know, in a world where like AI authoring tools could really, Again, just kind of thinking in different parameters, different like possibilities and explorations.

And you're able to kind of like scrub the timeline of like, Okay, these are the types of things I want to refine based on what's being generative in that regard to then, like, get the output that I want, right? Or maybe I want, like, three different outputs, um, based on these screens that I have to create this type of, um, experience.

And it can kind of generate that. I think that's going to be... Like, the game changer for me with designers. It's like, it's kind of [00:35:00] like, uh, Um, not directly, but I think a lot of people know, uh, Brett Victor's, like, Inventing on Principle. Like, where he's got the principle of like, Uh, the creator being able to see feedback and like, you know.

What will happen in the compiler or like that, there's, there's probably like a design equivalent for that and like building software. So it's like, okay, instead of like, you know, and this could be, uh, images to like, instead of like running the entire thing, I want to see the different possibilities and get feedback along the way to get like a more refined output.

By 2025 design will contribute to production codebases

I really liked that. You also said something else I really like, which is kind of hinting at this possible convergence of tooling and maybe the lines between. You know, authoring tools on design and engineering started to get pretty blurry. And one of the questions I wanted to ask you is yes or no. In 2025, do you think the majority of designers will be [00:36:00] regularly contributing to production code basis?

Yes. Hmm. Uh, to what extent I think will be really interesting, but I do think. It's kind of funny, right? It's like, we're going back to that, should designers learn the code? I know! Man, and I, um, you know, I think one thing that's really, people ask me all the time, they're just like, it's really wild, you went from Webflow to Repl.

it, so like, from no code to like, the heaviest of codes, right? Yeah, all of the code! Yeah, all of it, yeah, and I think, you know what's interesting about this is I think with AI, it's like, they're not, um, They're not at odds with each other, right? I think it's just gonna be like a spectrum of things. So I do think there's a world where me as a user, let's say I'm more like visually oriented or I'm still pretty early on my development journey.

There is a possible world where like I'm entering in the same authoring space as someone just writing raw [00:37:00] code, but I have visual affordances to be able to help me ship production software. And, you know, that's the thing about Webflow, right? It's like, they, like, with a lot of these experiences on the front end, these things are getting shipped to production, right?

So, why not, like, pull that into how we build, like, application software, too, with some of these guardrails and forrences? So, uh, I'd say it's like, uh, BYOA, right? Bring Your Own Abstraction. Which, like, for some people, it's like, hey, you know, the way I kind of think about, like the console and just other things I need to do to like debug software and, and be able to ship it.

Maybe it's more visual for some people. And I do think it's all going to be that one, um, authoring experience. Like, you know, where it's not like, uh, it's almost like a ID D E like an integrated design and dev environment. Right. And, uh, You [00:38:00] know, because of like, a lot of the breakthroughs we've had in like, collaboration and, uh, work being in the cloud, I think things can be, the spaces can be more contextual for certain people too, and I think that's exciting, so it's not like, you know, we don't have to make rigid decisions anymore, we have to kind of make the best decisions for what will set people up for authoring.

I think you have probably, you know, as robust a perspective on authoring tools as just about anyone, given your background, like really curious to hear based off of some of the things that you just said, like, how do you see the landscape for design, but maybe more broadly, we can refer to it as authoring tools.

How do you see it evolving? What does this convergence look like in practice? For those Apple users out there, you almost see, like, each version of iOS slowly become more like macOS. And a lot of macOS starts to feel more like an iPad [00:39:00] experience. Like, okay, they both have Stage Manager, they both have these things.

And I think these sort of, like, UI evolutions kind of happen over time that we might not even realize. And I think that's what's happening with authoring tools, too. Like, you know, Figma with dev mode. Starting to bring some of this stuff in, uh, you know, some of these like, uh, authoring canvases becoming more powerful to, to do more things.

Uh, you know, being able to bring, uh, your Figma components, uh, into Webflow. Uh, and I think this is one thing that I really care a lot about and really believe and hope that... The industry continues to invest in this is just software interoperability, right? Like I get certain companies want moats and other things, but I think providing access across tools is going to be like more of the way to, like really bring all [00:40:00] these authoring experiences together.

Right? So I don't know if there's going to be a world where like someone builds this one like authoring tool that accommodates all these use cases that everyone needs. You know, maybe, maybe someone will kind of emerge with that and we all adopt that. Or everyone tries. Yeah. What I'm more worried about is every single one of these tools tries to be vertically integrated.

Yeah, and it may not be, you know, it's not, it may not be helpful. You know, what I see maybe happening more is just like continued more software interoperability. I think more, uh, you know, more standards across this stuff. So like standards and like formatting and. Document formatting and some of these other things, um, where then like based on the company or the person, like based on your tool stack, there's ways to be able to like weave these experiences in where it feels more like one, like it's almost like microservices, but for tools that you're using and these things like [00:41:00] play, play nicely together in that regard, I think that's what it's going to like look more like.

So like a lot of these tools have. Yeah. More extensibility and integrations to be able to do more like Webflow just launched, like the apps, right? So like being, it just got, it got way more powerful, like super quick. Right. And I think that's going to be really exciting for, you know, all these other tools out there too.

By 2025 design will contribute to production codebases

I really liked that. You also said something else I really like, which is kind of hinting at this possible convergence of tooling and maybe the lines between. You know, authoring tools on design and engineering started to get pretty blurry. And one of the questions I wanted to ask you is yes or no. In 2025, do you think the majority of designers will be [00:36:00] regularly contributing to production code basis?

Yes. Hmm. Uh, to what extent I think will be really interesting, but I do think. It's kind of funny, right? It's like, we're going back to that, should designers learn the code? I know! Man, and I, um, you know, I think one thing that's really, people ask me all the time, they're just like, it's really wild, you went from Webflow to Repl.

it, so like, from no code to like, the heaviest of codes, right? Yeah, all of the code! Yeah, all of it, yeah, and I think, you know what's interesting about this is I think with AI, it's like, they're not, um, They're not at odds with each other, right? I think it's just gonna be like a spectrum of things. So I do think there's a world where me as a user, let's say I'm more like visually oriented or I'm still pretty early on my development journey.

There is a possible world where like I'm entering in the same authoring space as someone just writing raw [00:37:00] code, but I have visual affordances to be able to help me ship production software. And, you know, that's the thing about Webflow, right? It's like, they, like, with a lot of these experiences on the front end, these things are getting shipped to production, right?

So, why not, like, pull that into how we build, like, application software, too, with some of these guardrails and forrences? So, uh, I'd say it's like, uh, BYOA, right? Bring Your Own Abstraction. Which, like, for some people, it's like, hey, you know, the way I kind of think about, like the console and just other things I need to do to like debug software and, and be able to ship it.

Maybe it's more visual for some people. And I do think it's all going to be that one, um, authoring experience. Like, you know, where it's not like, uh, it's almost like a ID D E like an integrated design and dev environment. Right. And, uh, You [00:38:00] know, because of like, a lot of the breakthroughs we've had in like, collaboration and, uh, work being in the cloud, I think things can be, the spaces can be more contextual for certain people too, and I think that's exciting, so it's not like, you know, we don't have to make rigid decisions anymore, we have to kind of make the best decisions for what will set people up for authoring.

I think you have probably, you know, as robust a perspective on authoring tools as just about anyone, given your background, like really curious to hear based off of some of the things that you just said, like, how do you see the landscape for design, but maybe more broadly, we can refer to it as authoring tools.

How do you see it evolving? What does this convergence look like in practice? For those Apple users out there, you almost see, like, each version of iOS slowly become more like macOS. And a lot of macOS starts to feel more like an iPad [00:39:00] experience. Like, okay, they both have Stage Manager, they both have these things.

And I think these sort of, like, UI evolutions kind of happen over time that we might not even realize. And I think that's what's happening with authoring tools, too. Like, you know, Figma with dev mode. Starting to bring some of this stuff in, uh, you know, some of these like, uh, authoring canvases becoming more powerful to, to do more things.

Uh, you know, being able to bring, uh, your Figma components, uh, into Webflow. Uh, and I think this is one thing that I really care a lot about and really believe and hope that... The industry continues to invest in this is just software interoperability, right? Like I get certain companies want moats and other things, but I think providing access across tools is going to be like more of the way to, like really bring all [00:40:00] these authoring experiences together.

Right? So I don't know if there's going to be a world where like someone builds this one like authoring tool that accommodates all these use cases that everyone needs. You know, maybe, maybe someone will kind of emerge with that and we all adopt that. Or everyone tries. Yeah. What I'm more worried about is every single one of these tools tries to be vertically integrated.

Yeah, and it may not be, you know, it's not, it may not be helpful. You know, what I see maybe happening more is just like continued more software interoperability. I think more, uh, you know, more standards across this stuff. So like standards and like formatting and. Document formatting and some of these other things, um, where then like based on the company or the person, like based on your tool stack, there's ways to be able to like weave these experiences in where it feels more like one, like it's almost like microservices, but for tools that you're using and these things like [00:41:00] play, play nicely together in that regard, I think that's what it's going to like look more like.

So like a lot of these tools have. Yeah. More extensibility and integrations to be able to do more like Webflow just launched, like the apps, right? So like being, it just got, it got way more powerful, like super quick. Right. And I think that's going to be really exciting for, you know, all these other tools out there too.

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