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What's a challenge you've faced as a product designer within your organization?

September 18, 2019 at 3:42pm

What's a challenge you've faced as a product designer within your organization?

September 18, 2019 at 3:42pm
Speaking from experience, it took me a while to understand the significant difference between design for designs-sake and design for other goals. When I was younger, I thought of even product design as a form of art and could therefore entirely trust my intuition to guide me. Boy was that naïve!
As Matt Ström wrote about recently (https://matthewstrom.com/writing/intuition/), we should be willing to trust our intuitions. I believe that he and I both agree that those intuitions only become accurate after years of seeing real users perform tasks within predictable environments. They shouldn't be driven by naïve gut instinct.
So, how about you? Have you faced anti-design bias? Has engineering culture diminished your contributions?

September 18, 2019 at 7:49pm
I've seen this pattern play out multiple times in my career:
  • Gets hired as a designer on a team of engineers
  • Designs big, wholistic, UX with a few cool features
  • Everyone gives feedback and helps shape it
  • Everybody gets excited
  • Start sprint on initial chunk
  • Months go by...
  • Get bogged down in details
  • 20% of features sorta work
  • 3 extra random features were added bc of user requests
  • App looks nothing like the initial designs
  • Everybody's burnt out
  • Moves to a new startup
I think this is a problem everyone has – from initial big idea, there's almost always a ton (UX, simplicity, UI polish, excitement, etc) that gets lost implementing over time. The correlation I've made is that the bigger the team, the more filters/interpretations, and the longer and less polished the outcome...
If at all possible, keep your teams small, and make sure somebody really cares, and verifies, everything that gets pushed to prod.
Edited
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I've seen this pattern play out multiple times in my career:
  • Gets hired as a designer on a team of engineers
  • Designs big, wholistic, UX with a few cool features
  • Everyone gives feedback and helps shape it
  • Everybody gets excited
  • Start sprint on initial chunk
  • Months go by...
  • Get bogged down in details
  • 20% of features sorta work
  • 3 extra random features were added bc of user requests
  • App looks nothing like the initial designs
  • Everybody's burnt out
  • Moves to a new startup
I think this is a problem everyone has – from initial big idea, there's almost always a ton (UX, simplicity, UI polish, excitement, etc) that gets lost implementing over time. The correlation I've made is that the bigger the team, the more filters/interpretations, and the longer and less polished the outcome...
If at all possible, keep your teams small, and make sure somebody really cares, and verifies, everything that gets pushed to prod.
A thousand times, yes.
I think a big chunk of that problem is with multiple stakeholders seeing design prototypes as "the thing". Earlier in my career, I would have a lot of pride in designing flat screens with fake content on one screen size. I could point to the work I controlled and feel like I'd done my job. But of course, that's just an artifact, it doesn't help a user directly, just indirectly if it ends up being implemented correctly.
All stakeholders need to recognize that only the product is the real thing. We should be way more relentless and focused on polish in the product than we are on design artifacts. Unfortunately, that's rarely the case.
I've had some modest success by making this point consistently and by making sure I'm slotted in as a design QA resource as part of the build pipeline. This requires everyone to budget our time appropriately and include that as a responsibility. The reality is that many designers are best positioned to see not only which visual designs are a bit off, but which features need to be implemented in order to fulfill the larger product strategy.
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