An ADPList group session took place on Mar 30, 2022, with over 300 RSVPs. Eva Li, a former UX designer, turned Product Manager and now running her startup, ImmiSearch, shared her lessons and things she wishes she had known before she started in design & product.
This is a special group session in which all attendees co-created the design guide to share their insights with fellow designers and product folks. Credits to those who contributed to the Figma jam board: Victoria Kim, Hsu Ka An (Robert), Kh Rakib Ul Islam, Victory Aghazie, Lhurve Davies, Daniel, Devanshi Ray, Scott Pessoa, Stephanie Le, Flora Jin, Marisa Black, Sam Smith, Kelly Wong, Ryan Chiu, Aaron Newman, Angelique Kim, Kate Drummond, Abrar Fahim Rahman, Arun Kumaar Sreenivasan, Lauren Pruitt Eugene, Carolina Torres Arzamendi, Nishar Multani, Tanya Garg, Polly Yang, Gonzalo Alfaro, Victor Molina, Selina Li, Nicole Gao, Xinxiu Zhong, Ginny Hung, Larissa Tang, Amish Gadhia, Aftab Qureshi, Clarissa Hyun, Kristen, Michelle Kang, Keva Hosozawa, Zabrina Margono, Gabrella Priska Assa, Jessica Keatting, Manuel Ogomigo, Yvonne Weng, Yatong Wang, Anthony Cao, Sneha Lakshman, Clay Hoover, Lavanya Seshadri, MJ Chen, Victoria Cheng, Amber, Bebe Barberson, Kimberley Kadila and more!
“If you try to make everyone happy, no one is happy.”
Stakeholders often have conflicting interests and opinions. I used to think managing stakeholders meant pleasing them. I prioritized features based on votes in a lot of meetings. I ask for stakeholder feedback and get them to vote on ideas. However, the idea that gets the most votes is not always the best choice as you are likely to be the only designer in the meeting. This means you have the least number of votes, to begin with, and are less likely to “win.” Don’t let stakeholders dictate your design decisions, or let the loudest voices swag your design thinking.
“Treat stakeholders as a source of data and a way to get feedback.” — Eva.
Other juicy insights from other designers:
The second mistake I made was not having a design voice or not having a product voice. I felt insecure, especially when other stakeholders are the domain experts in the industry and have worked in the company a lot longer than I. In most product teams, you are likely to be the only designer for your feature or product. If you are not advocating for users, it is easy for the team to overlook the importance of usability. Sharing your design voice is not about being right or wrong. By voicing your design opinion, you’re educating your team.
You are not hired as a prototyping technician and shouldn’t only do what is told. What differentiates a junior designer from a senior designer is how well they articulate and stand by their design voice. More experienced designers know how to navigate design conversations and know when to push.
Insights from other designers:
It still surprises me that schools don’t teach designers how to work in an agile environment and collaborate with developers, product managers, etc.
Why is it important to learn about agile and how to work in a team? Unless you know how to work in a group, the end-users will never get to enjoy the great design ideas you have, even if you’re a super designer because those solutions never get implemented.
What is agile? Agile software development is the iterative approach that helps teams deliver value to their customers faster.
Examples of agile manifestos
Scrum is a lightweight framework used to organize teams to work together to deliver value quickly. This framework works closely with agile manifestos. If you are not familiar with the term, I recommend reading more about it before starting your design job.
What other designers have to say about working in a team:
When I got my first job, I didn’t give much thought to the industry or the type of company. I took the job because I liked the team. Despite the importance of the team’s culture, I wish I had known that my first job would significantly impact my future opportunities.
Why? The companies want to hire people who have experience in the field. When you have experience working in a fintech company, you have more transferrable skills and knowledge for another fintech company. While it is not a hard requirement to work in the industry before joining the company, you can see how a candidate would stand out if they did.
B2C vs B2B?
Here are some very general differences between the two. You should take this information with a grain of salt because every company is different.
Insights from other designers:
What is a champion? Usually, this is called a customer champion. In the B2B sector, you need to work with a customer to implement a solution. This person is usually profoundly invested in your product and is willing to advocate it in their own company. For example, if you want the whole design team to use Figjam and are the contact talking to Figjam on how to roll it out for your team, you are Figjam’s champion!
Similarly, we need an internal champion. Ideally, this person is your product manager because the product manager interacts with many stakeholders and can help you build relationships much quicker. You want to have a champion to bounce ideas off, get introduced to other stakeholders and recruit customers for interviews.
How to find this champion, especially if you are starting? Grab a coffee with your team members and get to know them as people. At the end of the day, we want to work with people we enjoy working with.
Thank you to all attendees for the great energy and contribution to the blog. The full session recording can be found here.
What about you? What are some of the things you wish you had known?
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