Episode 50

Veethika Mishra of GitLab on designers and barriers to open source


September 12th, 2023

36 mins 12 secs

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Special Guest

About this Episode


Veethika Mishra


Richard Littauer | Django Skorupa | Victory Brown

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain Open Source Design! The podcast where we talk about sustaining open source with design. Learn how we, as designers, interface with open source in a sustainable way, how we integrate into different communities, and how we as coders, work with other designers. In today’s episode, we are joined by guest, Veethika Mishra, a Senior Product Designer at GitLab, who shares her career path, emphasizing her move from closed to open source design work. She shares valuable insights into the design process at GitLab, which involves continuous interaction between designers and product managers and active participation of the user community. We discuss the power of open source contributions, the importance of community engagement, and the challenges faced in integrating external designers. Go ahead and download this episode now to hear more!

[00:02:37] Veethika discusses her career path and transition from a secretive and proprietary organization to open source companies like Red Hat and GitLab.

[00:04:25] At Red Hat, Veethika was part of the team that worked on the landing page for the developer console of OpenShift, which she greatly enjoyed. However, she wanted more engagement with the open source community, leading her to GitLab.

[00:06:10] Richard asks Veethika about any potential advantages of design in a closed source environment, and she responds that she doesn’t miss anything from her time in such an environment and considers some practices within these companies as absurd.

[00:08:03] Django asks Veethika to talk about her research experiences, and she explains that research in an open environment provides a more accessible and authentic dataset, which benefits the product design process.

[00:11:15] We hear about Veethika’s GitLab’s experience and the continuous learning process to ensure valuable community contributions.

[00:13:29] Richard asks about the user base and the number of designers at GitLab, which Veethika reveals they have 30 million+ users, four designers in the CI/CD UX, and possible over 30 designers across the company.

[00:14:05] Discussing the integration of designer input within developer teams at GitLab, Veethika describes GitLab’s publicly documented product development flow.

[00:16:19] Victory questions the collaboration between volunteer and employed designers at GitLab, and Veethika explains that while most designers working on different problems are GitLab employees, there are contribution guidelines for UX. She also mentions GitLab’s Pajamas Design System as a more accessible and familiar space for designers to make contributions.

[00:20:12] Richard asks about handling the potential backlash from unpopular design decisions. Veethika responds that there’s no guaranteed way to mitigate such reactions but mentions that engaging with the community has made her a better communicator and designer.

[00:21:03] We hear about the types of design contributions GitLab encourages from the community as Veethika explains the flexibility in contributions to Pajamas, and she details the process of making contributions via the Web IDE on the Pajamas website.

[00:22:46] Richard asks about the barriers to open source design roles and how to overcome them. Veethika shares her opinion that the main barrier is the lack of open source ethos within many organizations.

[00:25:19] Django asks if the scenario has changed over the years regarding open source design roles and Veethika notes an improvement in designer participation in open source.

[00:26:45] Veethika tells us her views on Penpot Fest.

[00:27:32] Veethika shares her hopes for the future of open source design, emphasizing the need for a deeper understanding of the socio-political impact of technological decisions and the diversification of the open source community.

[00:29:21] Find out where you can follow Veethika and her work on the web.


[00:10:17] “When you combine open and when you make it more visible and discoverable for others to see, these two things combined make a lot of impact.”

[00:23:06] “If an organization isn’t practicing open source development methods, then they have no reason having a designer that really cares for open source.”

[00:23:16] “It’s only when they live this ethos of openness when they realize the scale of impact this can bring to their business, not just to the community.”

[00:24:51] “We can keep pointing fingers at others and not realize that it’s also us who have a certain obligation towards the society and it’s larger good, and open source is the only way to make it happen at this point.”

[00:27:04] “Penpot Fest was really different!”

[00:28:39] “We need to diversify the community that’s behind open source projects.”


  • [00:30:07] Django’s spotlight is Rory Colgan.
  • [00:32:09] Victory’s spotlight is CHAOSS Africa.
  • [00:33:17] Richard’s spotlight is LEUCHTTURM 1917 Journals.
  • [00:33:53] Veethika’s spotlight is Creative Commons.