Octopus-branded security badge with text that says Jessica Ross, Director of User Experience and Design, above the silhouette of a red-headed woman wearing glasses.

At the helm with Jessica Ross

Jessica Ross

This post is the next in our series, chatting to people at Octopus about their role, what they’re working on to improve the product for our customers, and more.

Here we talk to Jessica Ross, Director of User Experience and Design.

User Experience and Design could cover many things at Octopus - what does your team focus on?

Our designers are embedded in the marketing and R&D teams and they're aligned with each team's mission.

The product designers work with product managers and engineers. The designers look at the problems we're solving through the user experience (UX) lens to deliver solutions that meet our customers' needs.

We also make sure our designers spend time with our customers to understand their pain points, so they can provide the best possible experience.

How do you know if the design and user experience work is successful?

Measuring the success of our user experience and design work is new to us. Our goal for 2022 is to experiment and find out what metrics matter most.

Every team determines how they measure their own success, and UX metrics form part of the overall measurement. So if the ultimate goal is to increase activation rates, our team will try to reduce the number of decisions users need to make and the time users spend on tasks.

We encourage our designers and their teams to avoid creating experiences based on what they think they know. Instead, they spend time researching, co-designing, and testing solutions early. That way they can deliver features feeling confident the solution will succeed.

What’s the most exciting project your team is working on this year?

It's so hard to narrow down to one project! I'm really excited to see dedicated teams for improving the onboarding experience, improving the holistic user experience and our design system, and defining the user experience for scale.

We've had some new users say things can be hard to find and that some concepts are difficult to understand. This year, we're doing research to better understand those problems. We'll be experimenting with incremental changes to help all our users, new and established, find what they're looking for faster and understand how Octopus works for them.

What’s your long-term vision for UX and design at Octopus?

We've always tried to make Octopus an easy-to-use deployment tool that handles the complexity our customers need. We want our users to feel confident Octopus can guide them through setting up and maintaining complex deployment scenarios with an intuitive product, so they can progress their business with the latest DevOps technologies.

We'll continue doing this with exceptional designers focused on the quality of the UX and design experiences to help users complete their tasks as efficiently as possible.

Internally, design is really valuable and contributes to the success of the features and improvements that we ship to our customers.

We plan to continually invest in design at Octopus by:

  • Building a UX and design platform that can underpin the success of a world-class user experience
  • Including product designers in our product teams
  • Making sure the structure of our team allows for career progression
  • Evolving our brand and design standards

What advice do you have for designers wanting to join Octopus?

Octopus has a great remote culture where everyone feels supported. To be successful as a designer at Octopus, you need to work well in a cross-functional team with marketers, product managers, and engineers. You need to be able to build consensus, have opinions about the user experience based on user research and testing, but hold those opinions loosely, and raise the bar on the quality of UX.

Most designers wouldn't be aware of Octopus or DevOps before starting with us. Designers at Octopus need to accept a level of ambiguity and be ok relying on subject matter experts to understand the product and translate that into a successful experience.

If you're a Product Designer who's worked to simplify and translate complexity before, Octopus Deploy may be a good fit for you.

What’s your favorite part of being Director of User Experience and Design?

Octopus created my role when I wanted to level up and expand the design function in R&D. My focus over the last 12 months has been growing the team, maturing the design function, and setting the team up to deliver world-class UX.

I love establishing rituals for the team and seeing the designers collaborate. Even though we're a decentralized team, we encourage the designers to get feedback from each other and have channels and rituals in place to help foster that.

As Octopus grows and the design function matures, I've loved working with some brilliant designers to set up processes that work for us while challenging some existing ways of working.

My most memorable moment with the team was our Q2 design week this year. (Design week happens every quarter.) In June, our team came together and collaborated with some of the marketers, product managers, and engineers. We workshopped the future of the brand, UX for enterprise, and reimagined the navigation and information architecture for the product.