Cultivating a design culture. How can you nurture an inspiring design… | by Robert Stribley | Feb, 2024


I’ve been thinking about the importance of cultivating a genuine design culture within an organization, which both educates and inspires but also supports UX designers, ensuring they don’t merely feel siloed into their project work, heads-down on deliverables all the time. I’d like to articulate some of those characteristics of a good internal design culture here. I’m sure you have your own thoughts, too: I’d love to see them in the comments. Worth noting, I’m sure these points apply to disciplines outside of user experience design and the broader design community, too. I’m just speaking from my own experience.

So. Here’s a few best practices I’ve come to believe in.

Enable Time for Collaboration & Communication

First, management has to allow and even encourage time for collaboration and communication, which isn’t purely project related. People shouldn’t feel like they have to slink guiltily away from their desks to join meetings, which simply exist to cultivate an internal design culture of collaboration and sharing. Ideally, upper management actively encourages for this time and verbalizes the need for it.

Empower Your Employees to Grow the Culture, Independently

Employees have to feel empowered to participate in developing the culture. At Razorfish, for example, when my colleague and friend Rachel Lovinger and I started Razorflix, our regular meetup to screen design-related(ish) films and documentaries, we weren’t only encouraged to do it, we felt we were already allowed to do it. We didn’t need a command or a special dispensation from above to bring it to life. And upper management (see above!) loudly expressed their approval of our taking this initiative.

If you’re a design leader, you may need to actively voice to your colleagues that they are empowered to self-organize in ways that prove helpful to them. Otherwise, nobody may ever start that UX book club (a quick salute to Jesse Nover at Publicis Sapient) or that usability focus group or [that thing you may have a great idea for here].


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