Design Rituals at Atomic


At Atomic, we currently have 4 designers. Our small (but mighty) team is working to continually evolve and improve our team practices and rituals. We’re in the process of evaluating and possibly revamping some of our design rituals, in fact. As of right now, we have a few things that we’re practicing:

Show n’ Tell

Once a week we reserve an hour to share work. This can be used for formal critique, but is also a time to simply share what we’ve been working on. An hour normally gives us time to review 2-3 pieces of work, depending on how complicated the work is. Previously, this time block was used purely as critique, but we altered the time to be more of a come share with the team time.

Ad Hoc Critique

Within teams, and within the design team, we hold critiques ad hoc. These critiques can be quick, at someone’s desk, or more formal, with prototypes or print offs ready to be presented as a whole.


Designer Days

This is a newer ritual, one that we’ve only successfully executed once. One of our designers, Bryan, is in Ann Arbor. In an effort to have more collaboration as a whole design team, we are trying to find one day each quarter to all work from one office to share projects, critique work, and get out of the office at the end of the day for a beer or dinner.

Open Communication

We are using HipChat and a Google+ group to share and catalog inspiration, articles, and project work.

As a design team, it can be very easy to overlook or dismiss these events when client work becomes more pressing or stressful. Critiques and other activities become important but not urgent, while client projects are both important and urgent.

To combat this, we try to make critique a priority despite what is happening in project work, because we know the value in sharing and getting feedback on work. However, it still doesn’t always work out.

What regular team rituals do other teams keep up with? What have you found that works, and what doesn’t?