Design Principles and How We Use Them


Ashley Quinn


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Design principles are a set of shared values defined to provide guidance and guardrails to a design team as they move through the design process. These principles ground us in a common vocabulary and set of preferences that help the design team make decisions.

The Lattice design team defined our current principles during a team offsite in the summer of 2021 and recently had time to reflect on those principles and discuss how we are applying them in our daily work. This reflection was especially useful as the team has almost doubled in size since we formed our principles last summer and we want to ensure that they get shared and can be discussed as the team grows.

Lattice Design Principles reflection

Be a coach

Our users are experts at their day jobs, not necessarily all the practices that Lattice enables. Companies are also at varying levels of maturity in their HR processes. By meeting them where they are during set up and providing guidance to create best-in-class processes along the way, we’ll set them on a path of delight, long term value, and advocacy.

How this principle shows up in our work

When guiding people through our tools, we should consider each use case and ensure we are using this principle when it is appropriate and letting our users take the lead otherwise, we need to be careful to not be patronizing.

An experience that is used infrequently, like review cycle creation, requires a different way of coaching than in 1:1’s where users may be interacting with the tool multiple times a week.  Even when providing guidance, it’s important that we allow for flexibility so that our customers can use Lattice in the way that works best for them.

Lastly, we should learn from our sales and CX partners to understand how they have conversations with customers and leverage that kind of discussion in the product as well.

Product examples

Build confidence with clarity

Our users make high risk, high visibility decisions that can impact their company, team, or peers, often with a few clicks of a button. If they’re unsure about the outcomes of their decision, they’ll be less likely to take action. What’s more, if they make a high impact decision that negatively impacts their credibility or creates challenging situations for their team, everyone quickly loses trust in the whole product.

How this principle shows up in our work

While Be a coach is focused on behavioral guidance, Build confidence with clarity is focused on the mechanics of the processes in Lattice and helping users understand the impacts of their decisions.

With the many layers of information and permissioning in the product, it is important to eliminate “bad surprises” and help our users understand what the results are going to be before they finalize decisions. This is impactful for Admins, who are often the first line of support in Lattice for their employees. They need to feel assured that how they think things are going to work is actually how things are going to work. This is also applicable to employees and managers who are making decisions in Lattice that can have cascading effects for themselves and their teammates.

Product examples

Celebrate moments that matter

Our platform’s mission is to help make work meaningful. It’s filled with a number of actions, steps, and milestones that each contribute toward that outcome in some way. By celebrating the meaningful ones, we remind the user of this and put a smile on their face while we’re at it.

How this principle shows up in our work

In order to reinforce behaviors in Lattice, it’s important that we spark joy and recognize people for doing the work. We should celebrate moments that matter, but also be aware of tone in situations that could be interpreted differently depending on perspective.

Different scenarios will require different types of acknowledgement. Our goal is to align the acknowledgement or celebration to the particular user scenario at hand. The celebration or acknowledgement should match the level of effort it took to complete the task as well as the type of work being completed.

We should also consider what emotions our users could be feeling at the time when considering presenting them with a celebratory moment. Being sensitive to the complexity here is abundantly important.

Product examples

Show the full picture

The aggregate activity in Lattice provides managers, Managers of Managers, and leaders with the trends needed to make decisions about their org. So it’s important that we surface and synthesize all of what they’re privy to.

How this principle shows up in our work

Where Build confidence with clarity is focused on enabling users to make decisions by helping them understand the mechanics of the system, Show the full picture is helping them do the same through giving them visibility into trends and data related to their organization.

While Admins and leadership might be the first users that come to mind for this principle, we should be supporting any Lattice user in making quality decisions. We do this by keeping people informed and reducing the number of places to go to to form takeaways.

An important aspect of this principle is that there is going to be a right place and time to surface this information and it’s up to the designer and their cross functional partners to figure out where and what information that should be.

Product examples


Shoutout to John Saito, Megan McGowan and Tovin Thomas for presenting these principles with me during our reflection meeting and to the rest of the design team for contributing to critical conversations! And a special thank you to Claire Rowell for facilitating the initiation of these principles.