Julia Elman

Julia Elman

Ad Hoc

Designing APIs for Humans: Leveraging UX Methods For Develop Human Centered APIs


Julia Elman is a Senior UX Designer at Ad Hoc and is the UX Lead for VA Lighthouse (a public facing API program at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs). She has 14 years of experience in design and technology. Known as a leader in her field, her most recent work includes the Zapier Visual Identity, the U.S. Web Design System project, Pulse and developing the project scoping and evaluation process for 18F Experience Design.

Prior to Ad Hoc, Julia grew the fully remote Zapier Design Team staff, workflows and processes to help meet the needs of a quickly growing company. She established an effective, repeatable hiring process to streamline the hiring cadence of Product Designers and UX Researchers. Julia also led the completion of the first Zapier Visual Identity to establish a cohesive, uniform brand.

Earlier on in her career, Julia published a book called Lightweight Django with O’Reilly Media. She also wrote curriculum and tutorials about design and development as the Front end Engineering Instructor at the Iron Yard Academy. She has also worked with clients such as Mozilla, the Python Software Foundation, University of Chicago, Hallmark Cards and Product(RED).

In 2012, Julia co-founded Girl Develop It RDU, a non-profit organization that provides affordable programs for women interested in learning web and software development in a judgment-free environment. The organization has grown to over 2,200 members and has taught over 100 classes within the Triangle area.

Julia lives in “the sticks” in Durham, North Carolina with her partner, two kids, and a fluffy mutt named Digby. She enjoys hiking and camping and enjoys being in nature as much as possible. Her ideal day would be on top of a mountain somewhere with a picnic lunch.

Talk description

Application programming interfaces (APIs) are a way modern websites and applications share data with users. From sharing user profile data between services to displaying relevant information from one service to another, APIs enable us to develop a single platform of shared data. In other words… it’s about people.

This talk will walk through how to leverage the practice of human centered design to create robust and meaningful APIs that help meet users needs. We’ll touch on topics such as:

  • How and why to involve a cross disciplinary on an API team into the HCD process (Engineering, UX, Product)
  • What HCD methods and techniques to use in order to create a healthy API ecosystem