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Design practice area

The CivicActions design team works with our clients on projects and partners with our other internal practice areas. Our design area includes content designers, product designers, design educators, and service designers. We use the #just-design slack channel for our communications and the #design slack channel to communicate across other practice areas. We have regular All Creatives Calls (ACC) and post bi-monthly slack announcements.

Individual Contributor Levels

Designers are placed into IC levels when they begin at CivicActions and levels are revisited during our annual year review cycle. Our designers have access to these levels and the paths to advance levels throughout the year so they can identify key areas to target for level movement. Our current design levels are as follows:

IC-10: Associate. Entry-level professional with limited prior experience; learns to use professional concepts to resolve problems of limited scope and complexity; works on initially routine assignments, requiring limited judgment and decision-making. Employees at this level are expected to acquire the skills and knowledge to perform more advanced work following an agreed-upon time in position, through defined training and development planning.

IC-20/25: General. Professional who applies acquired job skills, policies, and procedures to complete substantive assignments, projects, and tasks of moderate scope and complexity; exercises judgment within defined guidelines and practices to determine appropriate action.

IC-30/35: Senior. Experienced professional who knows how to apply theory and put it into practice with an in-depth understanding of the professional field; independently performs the full range of responsibilities with the function; possesses broad job knowledge; analyzes problems and issues of diverse scope and determines solutions.

IC-40: Staff. Technical leader with a high degree of knowledge in the overall field and recognized expertise in specific areas; problem-solving frequently requires analysis of unique issues or problems without precedent and or structure. May manage programs that include formulating strategies and administering policies, processes, and resources; functions with a high degree of autonomy.

IC-45: Principal. Recognized organization-wide as an expert. Has significant impact and influence on organizational policy and program development. Regularly leads projects of critical importance to the organization; these projects carry substantial consequences of success or failure. Directs programs with organization-wide impact that include formulating strategies and administering policies, processes, and resources. Significant barriers to entry exist at this level.


We most often are contracted for government projects under the following broad design roles:

Content Designer: Applies user-centered design principles to improve the workflow, expand the functionality, and enhance the visual appeal of websites and mobile apps.

Product Designer: Designs, develops, and enhances new and existing products and product lines.

Design Educator: Designs and develops training programs, curricula, methods, and materials for various audiences, including employees, managers, customers, or other learners.

Service Designer: Collaborates effectively with stakeholders, designers, product managers, delivery managers, and software engineers to deliver working software products and websites.


We start with discovery, not solutions

  • We begin by listening
  • We make every effort to design proactively, not reactively
  • We believe in incremental experimentation through iteration
  • We explore solutions through research, best practices, and equitable, accessible design approaches

We approach our work with authentic empathy

  • We acknowledge each other's whole self
  • We can show care for others when we show care for ourselves
  • We acknowledge that we all work in different ways and we respect diversity in thought, approach, and execution

Good enough should not be our default

  • We strive to fix what is broken
  • We advocate for, and educate others, on design best practices
  • We seek to find solutions for all of humanity, not just a subset of users
  • We have a growth mindset that is open to constructive feedback

We achieve through imagination and iteration

  • We push ourselves and each other to go beyond what we think we're capable of
  • We know that success requires collaboration and teamwork
  • We use metrics to gauge impact and guide decisions

All creatives calls

We meet regularly on Zoom to discuss topics of common interest. Mostly we tackle design ops topics during these meetings: what are our design principles, what are our latest engagement scores, how to best promote yourself and your work, etc. However, we do occasionally use these meetings for team-building activities and design critiques. These meetings always include an agenda when they're scheduled and are recorded so you can best decide how to prioritize your time. This also makes sure you can still get the information from the meeting if you have to miss it. While the recordings are shared after each meeting, we encourage you to attend the meeting if possible. We add the agenda recap, slide decks, and recordings to our ACC Notes after each meeting.

Internal initiatives

Our design team spends most of our time on billable projects, but we recognize that, as designers, we often look for things we can create or enhance on our own. As designers, we often get asked to create deliverables for our marketing, project, and product teams here at CivicActions. We work on these internal projects when we have the time, remembering to prioritize our billable work first. Because our design work tends to ebb and flow, you may not finish an internal project you start on, and that's ok! We ask that you update the work with your progress and next steps so someone else can pick it up as they have time.

Professional development

We've included some possible professional development resources below. You have $1200 per year (after your 90-day intro period) to spend on professional development. Professional development conferences, courses, and webinars that align with your current or growth-level path can contribute to your yearly utilization targets, but you don't have to use your professional development for our practice area only.


A member of the design team can help you get access to the design tools we use at CivicActions and your project teams will get you project team access.

Have a design request?

One important use of the #design slack channel is for other practice areas to reach out to the CivicActions designers to ask for specific design requests. When asking for help, please include:

  • The context for the request, including the target audience
  • Your preferred delivery format (document, design, user flow, graphics, illustration, etc)
  • A description or visualization of the solution/suggestion
  • A timeline that includes enough lead time to iterate on the design before the deadline
  • The point of contact for the request and describe any timeline requirements

While we address all requests as soon as they come in, ensuring each request has the above information ensures a faster response time and an easier project start.

This page was last updated on April 4, 2024.