What It’s Really Like to Be a Product Designer at Atlassian
Your name: Rylee Frazier
Your title: Senior Product Designer
How long have you been at your company? 4 years
Tell us about your career journey: How did you end up working as a product designer?
I took a very non-traditional, winding path. I was passionate about art and design early on in my career but was interested in other fields, too. I studied human behavior and psychology, and then went on a journey of exploring different industries, from hospitality and entertainment to finance and then art education. The common theme between these experiences revolves around crafting engaging and valuable experiences for people, which meant I had to listen and pay close attention to people’s needs and motivations in order to know how to unlock value for them.
Unexpectedly, I was led back to design while working with an after-school project-based learning group. I was in awe of how the kiddos were using technology to do meaningful work and knew in my gut that I needed to go explore the tech industry. While it was bittersweet to leave the classroom, I was fueled by a dream to get back to design and figure out a way to impact education in the future.
So I jumped feet to the fire into learning native mobile app design and eventually evolved from agency and freelance work into product design. I was driven to understand the impact of an experience on people over time, not just the one-off projects. My path deeply influences how I approach product design, and I’m grateful for it.
What attracted you to work at Atlassian? How did you know it would be a good fit?
It was a series of falling in love through unplanned happenings. I first gained exposure to the Atlassian products through my freelance work and saw firsthand how it helped teammates share info and collaborate. That’s when I became a fan of their Confluence product.
Some time later, my partner started working at Atlassian and I got an inside peek into the culture and how they treated their people. The company moved us to Sydney for his role and took such thoughtful care of us (we were expecting a baby at the time). From the little details to the bigger ways of working, my love for the company was born.
Eventually, I was ready for my next adventure. I researched Atlassian to learn more about their mission of “helping unleash the potential of every team,” which deeply aligned to my personal values. That’s when I knew it was a perfect fit.
What are you responsible for as a product designer at Atlassian?
I help to design intuitive, useful, and beautiful experiences for our customers. That includes unpacking a problem, facilitating ideation, helping with research and testing, mapping concepts and interaction, polishing the final designs, and adding moments of delight.
The most important part of my role lies in understanding our users as well as our business goals to craft an experience that is meaningful and valuable to both.
I love that my role is so centered around the customer lens—breathing life into their stories to help inspire our team to explore and build things that best serve them.
What does a normal day in your job look like?
I design my time to maximize my brain’s energy as best as possible. I reserve the first half of the day for deep work. That means no emails. I’ll do a quick Slack glance for my immediate teams and customer feedback channels for any urgent needs, and then I dive right in to focusing on design. In the afternoons, I typically have meetings, including working sessions, syncs, and virtual or in-person catch-ups.
How is the product team structured?
Product teams have a triad, consisting of the project manager, engineer, and design team leads. Each team typically focuses on a specific domain or part of a product experience, what we call “verticals,” and we collaborate across them. There are regular leadership syncs to find blind spots and gain valuable feedback. All product teams report up to a head of product, design, and engineering.
Please describe the product development process at your company.
We’re an iterative company, which means our planning cadence and process changes to respond to evolving needs. Generally, we know what problem spaces we’ll be tackling, and there’s always communication happening between and across teams for transparency, feedback, and alignment.
We use a shared language for project phases across Atlassian, and we’re intentional about those phases as we plan roadmaps. Just because it’s on the roadmap doesn’t mean it’s what’s shipping to customers—we could simply be in an information gathering phase or a testing and iterating phase.
Planning is driven by our product triads, and they work to map out which problem spaces to tackle, to what extent, and why. Design plays a critical role in that planning as one of the triad members. We collaboratively evaluate all the inputs and build the plan together.
Teams are free to choose how they do their work. In my team, we currently do two-week sprints. We are focused on continuous improvement and use retros to iterate on our process. Our latest iteration includes leveraging Jira product discovery to enhance how we track and execute ideas over time.
What skills are essential to succeeding as a product designer at Atlassian?
Your actions should reflect care and respect for the craft. You should also have a foundation in different parts of the craft, but you don’t need to know everything. It’s essential to be open, reflective, curious, collaborative, and driven to make a positive impact on the customer experience, your teams, and the business.
What are you working on right now that excites or inspires you?
I’m very excited about evolving the native mobile experience to amplify value for our customers and serve their mobile use in a deeply meaningful way. This work also relates to shifting broader market perception to know that Confluence is for company-wide collaboration—acting as the heart, glue, and creative transformation of an organization.
What do you value most about Atlassian’s company culture?
That our values are truly lived and you’re treated like a human.
What advice do you have for product designers applying to jobs at Atlassian?
In your interviews and portfolio, beyond showcasing your amazing design work, be ready to demonstrate your love of collaboration as well as the impact of your designs. Be open about your learnings while also celebrating your wins. Silence the ego part of the brain—it won’t serve you at Atlassian, nor will it serve our customers. I’m looking forward to getting to collaborate with you one day!