What Is Design Evangelism?
The developer world has seen a recent upsurge in roles and titles such as Developer Advocate or Developer Evangelist. The vagueness of these titles has prompted questions such as “What does a developer evangelist/advocate do?” and “What in the world is a developer evangelist?” Champions of this advocacy movement have rushed to provide an answer to these burning questions, even going as far as writing The Developer Evangelist Handbook.
Yet on the design side of this spectrum, things have been remarkably quiet. While Design Operations — DesignOps for short — has enjoyed a spot in the limelight for some time now, it’s not a true design counterpart to this developer evangelist movement. Design evangelism remains relatively underexplored and underexplained. So it still begs the question:
What in the world is Design Evangelism?
The title of Design Evangelist might sound like one of those startup-only titles that don’t really describe anything about this role and still leave us wondering what these people actually do. Even for those who might be familiar or have met someone with the title of Developer or Designer Evangelist, it might still be hard to truly understand what someone who calls themselves an evangelist actually does.
To clear up the confusion around the concept of Design Evangelism, let’s start from the bottom — the foundations of what evangelism means in tech — and work our way up to evangelism in the context of design.
Chris Heilmann, writer of the aforementioned Developer Evangelist Handbook, describes the concept of an evangelist as follows:
A developer evangelist is a spokesperson, mediator, and translator between a company and both its technical staff and outside developers.
While Heilmann specifically refers to developer evangelists, I’d argue this definition stretches beyond the confines of developer roles and could apply to any evangelist. What that means is that an evangelist, regardless of their trade, is a spokesperson, mediator, translator, and advocate for their respective division. They champion the cause of their discipline to both the internal…