Designing When Your Coworkers Are Your Customer


Ying Ying Wong

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How our HRIS design team evolved your collaboration with our core users, our People Operations team.

Today, HRIS designers leverage a variety of resources to validate our designs. From research calls with beta customers to external testing on platforms like, we continuously explore new processes to gather real user feedback.

For Lattice's Talent products, admin workflows are structured around periodic cycles such as bi-annual reviews, compensation assessments, and annual engagement surveys. In contrast, HRIS workflows are centered on daily employee management tasks and maintaining a reliable source of truth for employment records.

Our position is unique because we can obtain design validation directly from our internal People Operations team, who represent the core user group for an HRIS product. This direct feedback loop allows us to fine-tune our designs to better meet user needs. Over the last year, we started working very closely with this team and have established a few key rituals:

  • Slack channels: where we can post async questions and have an open forum for discussion. This allows us to get real time feedback and help unblock on design decisions.
  • Dedicated bi-weekly design critiques: This time allows us to share early thinking on design concepts, hear feedback about current features, and go deep on design mocks with real users of our product.

Our path to better collaboration

The People Operations team at Lattice was essentially our first customer using our HRIS. When we initially launched internally, we quickly learned a lot from the People Operations team’s feedback and were able to iterate and build solutions for problems we didn’t initially anticipate.

Over time, the partnership between the Design team and People Operations has matured, playing a pivotal role in crafting an exceptional HRIS tailored for People teams. This collaboration, rooted in proximity to our core users, has been pivotal in our journey towards excellence.

I recently spoke with Mendy Slaton, our Director of People Operations, to gain insight into her experience in co-developing our HRIS solution.

Before our current partnerships - what were some problems you faced when we launched internally?

Mendy: Initially we were only working with Product Managers and CX to discuss bugs, feature requests and other details. When Lattice on Lattice launched, my team understood that we were essentially the guinea pigs testing this out, setting it up for Lattice, and trying to make this better for our customers.

How confident were you in the future of HRIS at that time?

Mendy: My confidence was a bit shaky at first but only because changing to a new system is always a pretty big lift, especially an HRIS - but that’s what kept me motivated because Lattice has an amazing brand and we are seen by other HR leaders as a leader. We build products for HR people and if we can do this right, it’s mind blowing what we will be able to do for our customers.

Had you been to a design critique before? What were your opinions about it?

Mendy: No I haven’t! I didn’t know what it was about and when Miki Setlur (Director of HRIS Design) and I had our mentorship meetings [they were matched in Lattice’s Mentorship Program], he was actually the one who brought up creating this collaboration forum between my team and his. I said, “sign us up!

Now with these critique sessions, how have things changed for you?

Mendy: These sessions have completely changed the way we feel about the HRIS product and how we collaborate. I’m a very visual learner, so seeing all the designs in progress is so helpful to talk through the problems and nuances and to have meaningful conversations around the trade-offs since things are never black and white.

It’s also nice to be able to see the future vision of the HRIS product. I always say this is my favorite meeting of the week and it truly is because of how exciting it is to see all the incredible things our product and design teams are building for the future. We’re interacting with the HRIS daily and it’s so fun to lift up and see where we’re heading.

Slack discussion snapshots

How are you feeling about all the changes and the move to involving People Operations more closely in our processes?

Mendy: I feel very heard and valued. We are seen as HRIS professional experts and get to weigh in on these features and hearing the designers respond with ‘that makes sense’ or ‘that’s a good point’ - it’s really reassuring and often leads us to even better conversations about what we’re building and how to differentiate Lattice from other HR tools.

I appreciate all the changes even beyond the Design organization. There’s been a strong, collaborative partnership with our PMs where we’re working together on requirements, getting more visibility into planning, roadmap, and overall priorities.

How confident are you now for the future of our HRIS product after getting more time and exposure to the HRIS designers?

Mendy: I’m very excited to see what we’re building this year. There’s still a lot that we need the system to do and the conversations we’ve been having have been very reassuring that we’re headed in the right direction.

We’re all in this ship together.

Have any other feedback you want to share about the collaboration so far?

Mendy: It’s been nice to see how we’ve been adapting to changes - we started with meeting with HRIS designers every week but ever since we got into a good groove, we’ve moved to async collaboration and meetings every other week.

I’m interested to see in the future where some topics can be reversed and we’re the ones coming into these critique sessions and asking if the HRIS designers have been thinking about other ideas.

We’re fortunate to be in this space and excited for the future

These sessions have been truly eye-opening for me. After every critique meeting, I leave with valuable insights that guide me in the right direction for our designs. I've found immense value in these collaborative forums that have become an integral part of our process.

Usability testing often presents challenges in obtaining the right type of feedback, as we can't always engage directly with our target users. This necessitates providing additional context or compromising on the level of detailed feedback we receive. The external research process can be cumbersome, requiring more resources than ideal to generate actionable insights swiftly.

As HRIS designers at Lattice, we are fortunate to have our target customers—our co-workers—right next to us. This proximity allows us to test assumptions quickly, clarify any uncertainties about workflows, and understand best practices for People teams.

I'm excited to see where the next evolution of our collaboration takes us and how it will continue to enhance our design process.