Be nice. Or else.
VP of Design Education at InVision Joined 12 months ago
I agree without just need to hire more designers. Developing your own pattern library/design system can help your current designers work more efficiently.
Writing about your research process and findings are a great way to show your skills. If you can, write about how your research affected the product and use experience.
I'll be writing and speaking about design best practices that'll help teams do better work and help companies use design to grow. I'll run workshops for some of our customers, I'll continue to speak at conferences around the world, and I'll publish plenty of articles to guide designers. It's not content marketing, I'm not trying to sell InVision. I wan to help our industry see the value of design.
I don't have a grand vision of what design will look like in the future, but I do see a challenge we face. Agile development is the common wisdom of our time, helping us move faster, but it's a very developer-centric process. Designers often struggle to find their place in the process and can feel like an add-on rather than an equal. We'll need to find a way for design to fit into the process as a peer if we want to continue to do satisfying work.
JTBD is a very helpful process to focus design work. We used the process extensively at MailChimp. I haven't written anything about Jobs myself, but this video provides a good primer. This article provides a solid guide to conducting JTBD interviews with your customers.
Although I've certainly been in situations where team members disagree on an approach to a design, it always gets sorted out through discussion. Chances are there's a decider who can make the final call. If you're trying to figure out what to prioritize in your roadmap, consider create a RICE score.
Working with a client along the way shortens the feedback loop and can help you get closer to the right design solution faster.
Design reviews are very important. Definitely don't stop. All designers need feedback. It's a great way to raise the skills of the entire team as they will learn from peers and get in the habit of talking about their work.
However, if you're the only one providing feedback, there's a problem. Design reviews are an opportunity for all to contribute. Set some guidelines for critique then step back and let your team do the talking. Teach them to help each other instead of always relying on you.
If you want your designers to be independent thinkers you need to give them the freedom to solve problems on their own.
Make it easy for people to view your work. Right now all of your work is wrapped in detailed articles. Your asking a lot of people by making them read multiple articles to see what you can do. Show more than tell.
Julie Zhou at Facebook has recently written some great articles about managing design teams.
Before you start to build your team, take some time to identify the core values that will guide you. Here's an example of a team values doc. This will help you hire the right folks and guide your team. Hiring will be the most important thing you do. Make sure you put in the time to find the right people and don't hire in a hurry. It's easy to hire, hard to fire.
Design requests from other departments should flow through the team lead to protect the productivity of the team and make communication efficient. Be realistic about what your team can deliver. It's okay to tell colleagues you can't get to a project right now. If it's important they'll get back in touch later. If it's not the project will disappear.
Agile is tough if your teams are mostly part-time, but it's not impossible. You can structure a lot of the work to be remote if schedules are hard to align. You'll need to make sure teams can find time for regular stand-ups to talk about what they've completed and what they'll be working on next. These don't have to be daily, but the intervals should be regular. They should schedule design reviews in-person if possible. There are so many good tools that make remote collaboration easy: google Hangouts, Basecamp, Slack, InVision.
Choose clients that are committed to being available to students and providing the feedback they'll need to succeed. Choose clients that have meaningful problems to solve (non-profits, interesting new businesses, etc) to help students build a good portfolio. Choose clients that will give students access to the end user where possible so students get the opportunity to research the problem before designing.