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The Rise of Design in a Tech Company


The Beginning

Coveo was founded in 2005 by a team spun off from Copernic, a search software company, to focus specifically on the enterprise search market. In the past, Coveo had a graphic/web designer but nobody to work with the developers on the product itself. The real interface design journey began in 2011, when they needed help from someone with those skills on a project for a client. Because I had worked with a Coveo employee the year before on a personal business project, he mentioned my name and they called me.

People at Coveo love trying new things, but they had never worked with an interface designer. We gave it a try with a contract to redesign Coveo Faceted Navigation. In conjunction with the product managers, we tried a lot of new approaches and designs. They found the value of having someone to do wireframes, mockups, and prototypes. Luckily for me, I was hired full time!

Evolution of the faceted navigation through the years

The Growth

Over the last three years, the company has grown very fast. Coveo needed to hire new people in every team of the enterprise (and we still need more people). They hired Eric Bouchard, a former member of Copernic, as VP of UX and Design to work alongside me. Eric was asked to consolidate the vision of the product and the website. After Eric came onboard, we built a new team to manage the website. We hired a web designer, Alexandre Drouin, that sometimes worked with me.

After some time, it seemed impossible for me to work on every design project for the product. Working with Eric, we began looking for another interface designer. We work a lot with developers, and we needed a geek (I am one myself!) who was interested in knowing how things work behind the interface because simplifying the Coveo product for users is quite a challenge. After meeting a few candidates, we found Benoit Chabert, who brought with him some skills in motion design. After he joined, we had a little more time to work on some projects initiated by the team.

Infographic by Alexandre Drouin

The Present

Time has passed, and we have refined the way our team works with R&D developers, professional services agents, and product managers. We adapt our workflow to best meet these people’s own jobs so we can deliver the best possible design for them. More technically, we have also been refining our tools and trying out various new design software, such as Sketch 3. It is in Coveo’s interest that its employees work with good tools that they enjoy, so we are free to test and try new ones.

As we have accrued more credibility within the company, we have had the freedom to create our own projects and use our own ideas to improve the products in original ways. Interface design at Coveo is a team effort, and everyone has a chance to contribute. As we create designs, we share them openly with the team (mainly R&D), try them and test them. This allows us to iterate on the designs and improve them.

The Future

Over time, the majority of Coveo’s teams and projects have become design-aware. The Professional Services team rapidly took over Benoit’s time and he works with them to integrate the product in clients’ environments. I am fully occupied by the cloud version of our product. In 2015, we want to put more effort into mobility and other cool projects that we need a designer to work on.

Because we still need more people to work with us to make Coveo a better product, we are currently looking for a new member for the UX team. We are also interested in hiring resourceful interns who want to work in interface design. We worked on a project with students from the Multimedia Design master’s degree program at Laval University in the past, and we would love to work on a project like that again.