UX Designer at Avalara


WillRodenbough (UX Designer at Avalara)

Will is a Senior UX Designer on the Design System team at Avalara.

He/Him • Seattle, United States • November 25, 2022

What led you into design?

I was introduced to design in college. I enrolled in a program designed to highlight career paths that aligned with my strengths and interests. This led me to explore courses in creative fields like photography, illustration, and design. Design stood out to me right away. I quickly fell in love with the blend of art, science, and technology.

What does a typical day look like?

I work from my home office in Seattle. I start my day with a cup of tea while I review my calendar and emails. My weeks are divided into focus days and meeting days.

On focus days, I collect and analyze design research, iterate on design system ideas in Figma, and draft guidelines for our design system website. On meeting days, I meet with my team and other stakeholders to collaborate on design system strategies and deliverables.

What's your workstation setup?

Where do you go to get inspired?

• Design systems created by companies like Google, IBM, and Shopify
• Webinars hosted by companies like NN/g, Figma, and zeroheight
• Inspiring creators like Oliur, Jan, and Daniel
• Scandinavian architecture and interior design
• Minimalist and streetwear fashion
• Sci-fi and fantasy movies, TV shows, and novels
• Electronic music

What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?

Craft, a beautifully designed documents app that I think is a compelling replacement for apps like Evernote, Notion, and Apple Notes.

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

Skylab, the Avalara design system
• A web app I designed for Google Domains
• The logo I designed for Tune

What design challenges do you face at your company?

The Design System team at Avalara is tasked with establishing standards and guidelines for a large and diverse user base. It can sometimes be challenging to define standards that incorporate an effective balance of consistency and flexibility. Because of this challenge, our team spends ample time collecting and understanding use cases, researching best practices, and reviewing proposals with stakeholders before publishing. We also provide many ways to share ideas and feedback with our team.

What music do you listen to while designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

• In all walks of life, be kind.
• Creating positive relationships with co-workers and clients is important for your mental health and career.
• Be open to the perspectives and priorities of others, and be willing to compromise for the greater good.
• Early in each project, collaboratively establish what you will deliver and when. Review this with your team regularly.
• Invest in learning how to complete repetitive tasks efficiently. The right strategy or plugin can significantly simplify tasks that might otherwise be tedious and time-consuming.
• When presenting design ideas, tell the story of your process. Explain the problem, your research, the ideas you explored, and the evidence that supports your solution.
• Sometimes design feedback might feel like personal criticism, but it rarely is. Give yourself time to let any instinctual defensiveness dissipate before acting on feedback.
• Check out Norman Nielsen Group. They offer tons of free UX research that I wish I discovered earlier in my career.

Anything you want to promote or plug?

I'm always happy to network. Contact me about UX design or design systems any time.