Design Management For Startups & Tech Companies
For a cost-effective average startup, it could place a $4,309.00 burden every time design feedback is provided.
Throughout my career, I've witnessed multiple environments experience similar problems when design teams are underutilized. Below are a few instances that managers should be aware of to reduce design iteration and save companies considerable dollars.
Design Not Considered For Product
Product teams often make design decisions without consulting the design team. The product speaks about goals, solutions, and strategy - designers need these conversations to better represent the experience being created. At the very least, put designers in those meetings. Let them overhear the discussion and absorb it. You'll be surprised, even just being a fly on the wall helps any designer gather takeaways from the conversation to put into their own thought process.
"Let’s try it in green" or "Can we use a slider instead" are potentially hazardous forms of feedback considering marketable solutions don't come from the UI. This causes the designer to shuffle through hundreds of UI elements and burn valuable time.
A designer is paid ~$110k/y on average in San Francisco. Scratch figure of $43/hr. A great designer can change the UI elements on a Photoshop document in about an hour. You have a one-hour meeting to provide feedback. Three days to produce changes. Multiply that by how many team members involved in the meeting, days of rework, the opportunity cost of founders in the meeting, plus any other related daily burn of the Company. For a cost- effective average startup, that's around $4,309.00 (fairly precise napkin math from personal time records/experiences) every time you provide feedback.
So ask yourself, is a green button really going to quantify that spend? Maybe yes, maybe no. But you should be asking wider questions in meetings and letting the team members distill those into deliverables with good reasoning to return with.
It's crucial to incorporate team members in the design process. Work will inherit from design and additional eyes can help spot simply missed details. Though, this can be potentially hazardous to the wellness of the project if the process is posed improperly.
The worst is a potential directional-daze for the designer. This is when too many people give too finite of feedback without answering the critical question. Let the team or individual pose one single question and stick to that. For example, "Do you guys feel these are too many steps?"
Avoid elemental questions like, "What does everyone think about the slider?" Focus on the achievement of a singular goal before diving deeper into the details.
Work without challenges
Designers are problem solvers. If they are constantly being asked to take wireframes and add an aesthetic layer on top of them, you’re going to burn the creative spark out of the individual quickly.
Give them the freedom to create and see what happens. If you’re directing the flow of work toward the idea of crafting solutions from the proper goal setting process, you should get accurate and surprising results.
I was once asked to conceptualize a new way to digest Web content. This was fun and ultimately led to successful results that got implemented into the project I was working on. But if I was asked to "Make the layout wider" I might not have gotten the same result.
Designers are great at creating the empathetic details of the end customer experience. Your customers feel like your product relates more to their needs and in return makes them happier to use it.
Copy edited by Jennifer Beightol.
I'm a huge Criminal Minds fan, btw.
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