How to stop moving pixels and start adding value to your business
As designers, we have an incredible opportunity to influence the product and the business as a whole. One decision we make can change the business model, generate profits for the company, and make the lives of millions easier.
Often we forget about this and become someone between a perfectionist artist and a lazy one, although our work is determined not by the quantity and quality of the made layouts, but by the performance of the product.
A turning point in the career of a Designer
Six months ago, I realized that some of my work was going to the trash. And it doesn’t matter how well I prepared layouts and prototypes. All the same, the product was different.
I tried to figure out what was going on: I peeped at the developers’ monitors from behind, eavesdropped on their conversations and did not learn anything suspicious. In the end, I decided to go directly to the developers and try to figure out what was going on. My goal was not to find the culprit, but to understand how to set up communications in such a way that the product turns out the way we intended it from the very beginning.
The developers took this idea perfectly, because now they did not need to ask the project manager to explain the designer’s decision. Now they can ask this directly. We increased the interaction, and after the completion of each module of the system, we carried out a check and, only after that, we went further. As a result, the relationship between design and development has improved and even more. When communication with the development is established, you do not have to “draw” the same type of layout, but you can explain in words how it should work with the use of ready-made components.
In addition, in this situation, the designer becomes a leader, as he establishes communication between departments and makes intermediate decisions from which the final product is obtained.
The new responsibilities of a Product Manager affected my work in two ways. On the one hand, we iteratively refined a product that not only corresponded to the terms of reference, but also met all design requirements. On the other hand, I had to constantly communicate with developers and be distracted from solving design problems.
In this regard, I have developed several rules:
- Do not come up with a question, but write in Slack. This rule helped make developers more independent in solving small problems. Realizing that they will not always be able to get an instant answer, they had to think about solving the problem on their own. And these decisions turned out to be correct in most cases.
- I started arriving earlier than anyone else, turning off applications and closing myself in the meeting room, working 2-4 hours on the most important task. In the period from 9 to 11 the office is full and it interferes with concentration. Someone needs to be greeted, someone asks how you are doing, and as a result, you cannot focus on the task.
- Give developers not just a layout, but also an interactive prototype. This eliminates most of the in-app navigation issues. For this we use InVision. In addition, the Inspector tool appeared there, which will soon replace Zeplin in our company.
- Asking developers questions is very helpful. I often ask, “How do you think it can be done better?” or “What do you think about this?” As a result, the person stops coding and starts developing the product.
It is very important and pleasant to see the interest of colleagues. When they do not just transfer layouts into the code, but also try to do it efficiently and technically beautifully. Close communication with the development made it possible to achieve this. Thanks to this, the growth and interest of employees is accelerated and the designer is pleased that they take seriously the implementation of his thoughts 🙂
More than a Designer
Good design is invisible and intuitive. This proves once again that the main result of a designer’s work is not layouts, but a working, convenient and profitable product.