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Creating moments of connection

Alia Fite, Editor, Figma

On October 15, we’ll be releasing recordings of all the breakout sessions from Config Europe. Today we’re sharing the closing keynote from Halli Thorleifsson.

It has been exactly three weeks since Config Europe, Figma’s first virtual user conference, and a time for the community to learn, contribute, and connect. Presenters told stories and shared best practices while attendees met at virtual networking sessions, discussed sessions in an online chat, and assembled groups as part of the recently-launched Friends of Figma program.

As we reflect on the many takeaways from the conference, more than anything, we’re reminded how design has the power to bring us together. We’ve curated some of our favorite snippets on creating moments of connection—through the work you do, the products you build, or the way you show up in the community.

More than an app

Posti Group has been responsible for delivering mail and parcels across Finland since 1638. As invoices and letters become increasingly digital, the team has had to reckon with revisiting the customer experience to keep up with ever-evolving needs. So, when the team went about digitizing the entire user journey, they wanted to make sure it wasn’t just about creating a new app, but finding a way to modernize an organization that goes back hundreds of years.

To make sweeping changes, they had to adjust their approach as a company. That meant coming from a place of principles, with design at the center. They landed on a framework: grow (keep up with users as they evolve); delight (turn disappointments into something positive); reduce (provide reliable services); listen (find ways for customers to surface their needs). Design System Lead Angelos Arnis says that it was a guide for the organization on "what great means.” Instead of focusing on one deliverable or digital touchpoint, they thought about the entire user journey, holistically.

While a postal service is the epitome of function and efficient operations, Angelos reminds us that it’s not just about the service, but what it powers: “When we talk about Posti, we talk about 400 years of emotions,” he says. Whether it’s a love letter, taxes, or a social security card for a newborn baby, these changes will help Posti Group continue to manage people’s most important communications.

Character vs. skill

ConvertKit's Charli Marie Prangley, Marketing Design Lead, shares how building a brand and reputation in the design community isn’t just about whether you can create a high-performing landing page or design a beautiful logo. Rather, your brand comes down to both skills “you have as a designer” and, more importantly, character—”who you are as a person.”

Whether you’re looking to win clients, land a great job, or build your reputation, Charli Marie urges everyone to ask themselves: “How do you want people to describe you?” Creative? Kind? Fun? It’s not just about skill, craft, and function—it’s personality, connection, and humanity. By defining these characteristics, she says, as you create more and share more in the community, you’ll be able to evaluate whether your online presence is an accurate reflection of your values. When in doubt, “Do what’s authentic to you,” she says. “There’s someone out there who’s really going to value your perspective.”

Function and feeling

While skill, craft, and function are all core to design as a discipline, Halli Thorleifsson, founder and Design Director at Ueno, urges everyone—whatever it is you’re building or designing—to do work that has meaning. It’s never “just a website” or “just an app,” he says. Similarly, it’s not just about finding a tool or design system that works for your team; rather it’s about the work and connection that those tools enable. “What we build with our tools—and why—is ultimately all that matters,” he says.

Especially as so many of us continue to work remotely, it’s more important than ever to stay connected to each other. As Halli says, technology can unite us: “I believe it can connect us. I believe it can help us belong.”

Knowing that nearly 10,000 of you from over 150 countries came together at Config Europe, we certainly feel that way too. And while many of us came away with learnings that can help us do better work and build better products, above all, we hope that connections you made—with each other, as part of this community—are what really stick. As Halli closed out the conference, “Ultimately master your craft, but don’t forget to work on mastering your humanity.”

You can watch Halli's talk and take a look at the keynote from Figma CEO Dylan Field. We’ll be sharing more next week when we release all 22 breakout sessions on Figma’s YouTube channel.

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