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Big Design Conference 2019

Written by Erick Olivares

I attended the Big Design Conference 2019 which was held at Gilley’s Dallas. The event brought hundreds of designers, researchers, and design thinkers together to explore building digital products. BDC offered keynotes and various tacks focusing on design in enterprise, user experience, research, and education.



The event kicked off with Andrea Sutton, VP of Design Technology at AT&T. She emphasized the importance of metrics when it came to validating her department’s role. Not too many people understand user experience and this includes upper management CEO, VPs, and stakeholders. Being able to see how UX impacts product on a periodical basis emphasizes the importance of her department’s role. Adrea provides data; numbers and metrics that allow upper management to see the raw impact.

Andrea also talked about the culture at business. Saying thank you and remaining humble is important to maintain a positive team environment.

Joe Meersman from IBM talked about agile design workflows. Building products in today’s world means remaining flexible and adaptable with new features and being able to iterate in sprints. Joe talked about building a prototype early and often in the design process. The quicker users, directors, and stakeholders can focus on what is valuable for the user.

Elisa Miller a designer who had to tackle managerial tasks spoke about DesignOps. Design Operations today have a vast quantity of roles to manage large design teams. DesignOps is one big umbrella who handles contracts, scheduling, governance, infrastructure, and budgets.

DesignOps, 3 columns of the primary roles of a DesignOps role

Susan Price from Firecat Studio spoke about design sprints. The process in product teams isn’t usually an effective one. Product managers are worried about finishing on time, designers ask for “too many” features, and developers cut down on features due to time constraints are just some of the pitfalls of the product cycle. Design Sprints 2.0  allow everyone to have a seat at the table from the very start of the process. Susan sits everyone down at the table with developers, designer, PM’s and stakeholders to ideate, conceptualize, to ultimately deliver a product on time, under budget, and with solid expectations across the board.

Diana Hubbard spoke about Accessibility. She emphasizes attention is a precious resource and that it should begin from the beginning. Instead of if being a gatekeeper of bad design, one should be a gardener of good design.


Beyond the lectures, the booths were filled with enterprise companies such as WalMart, AT&T, and Intuit. Among them, there were talent agencies, software companies promoting their tools and universities looking for potential students.

WalMart had a design challenge allowing designers to explore what they envision a working place in the year 2035. This might be due to the fact that WalMart is about to build a new campus in their headquarters based in Bentonville, Arkansas. Surveying the UX community is a great way to ideate and brainstorm ideas.

Big Design Conference was a great conference focused on design thinking. The future will enable leaders who are focused on customers and users. Major props to the organizers for putting on a great conference.

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