Design System

A refresh of the Kount design system

1

Define

Vacasa's design team of about 12 people had a quarterly get-together where we would all travel to the Portland headquarters. This was an excellent opportunity for us to knowledge share and update each other on what lies ahead.

When asked to fill a whole-day timeslot during one of these quarterly meetups, my manager asked me to create a workshop to teach accessible and inclusive design practices. We were both passionate about improving the design culture at Vacasa to be more accessible and inclusive.

2

Ideate

I had been trained in various aspects of accessibility but I had never created or ran a workshop for accessibility. So I went to the web looking for examples of accessibility workshops. That is when I found the amazing Microsoft Inclusive Design resources. This included various videos, methodologies, and most importantly a series of activities.

With this toolkit of accessibility activities, I developed a framework of:

  1. Introduce: educate the basics of disabilities and why accessible design is important.
  2. Empathize: get the design team to empathize with disabled persons through a series of role-playing activities.
  3. Apply: put the new understanding into practice by creating a new feature or product that is accessible by design.
3

Build

To build the slide deck, I gathered informational videos and Inclusive Design activities and organized each piece of information or activity into one of the three framework sections. Finally, I mapped the flow in order to estimate the time and make sure that the framework sections made sense and transitioned nicely.

Flowchart showing the accessibility workshop plan
4

Results

The results of the workshop were very positive:

  • Every designer, even those with a previous understanding of accessible design, felt they had learned something new and valuable to help them in their design process.
  • The design director asked me to create a simplified and shorter version that I could teach to the whole 300 people IT department. (embedded below)
5

Lookback

What I liked:

  • The framework and flow of information. I received feedback that the information flow made the concepts easy to understand and put into practice.
  • Having the design team respond so well that I was able to take the information and present it to the greater IT department and generate interest in accessibility at Vacasa.
  • [Humble Brag] The team had a reservation which meant we had to finish at 4 PM. Between my time estimates and workshop leadership, we finished at 3:59 PM.

What I learned:

  • Adjusting information and presentation based on the audience. It was a challenge to condense a 4-hour workshop into a 20 minute IT presentation but I was able to do it.
  • Owning what I was passionate about and evangelizing for it in a large organization.
  • One must be fearless while running a workshop. If the team doesn't resonate with one activity that doesn't mean they will not resonate with the next. Keep the energy high and maintain focus on teaching.

What I would do differently:

  • Allot more time for the application of the new knowledge during the accessible feature design activities. The teams responded to this well and developed a lot of amazing ideas.
  • Run it as a hybrid workshop that included more than just the design team. Having a product or engineering presence would have brought new perspectives and valuable insight.