UX strategy in practice. Part 2 - Product Designer
In the first part of the article about UX-strategy, I talked about a mature approach to design in the modern world. And he proposed three levels of its development. Each of these levels has its own challenges, problems, tasks and limitations. And this set is changing as the organization becomes more mature. We need strong UX leaders with a clear vision of the changes and internal strength to implement them, so that the company's design culture grows and does not break into the many limitations of the real world. But without a strong and smart design team, nothing will come of it - one leader is not enough.
- Operational - the designer as the ultimate performer. Provides the performance of tasks to create design artifacts.
- Tactical - designer as part of the product team. Closely integrates design work with other product tasks.
- Strategic - designer as a visionary and product manager. Affects strategic decision making on product development.
Who is needed for such a team? In recent years, the rather broad term “product designer” has been established, which characterizes such a specialist well. I will try to describe our experience in the development of such people. As well as a general understanding of where the industry is heading.
Article written for UXMatters magazine .
The need for speed
Most complex design tasks are at the intersection of roles and specialties. It is not enough to draw a spectacular article page in a magazine style without adjusting the editorial process and CMS - you won’t get any content for this design. It is impossible to make the design of a service modern if its advertising network is bad, and existing agreements with advertisers do not allow changing it. And if the product represents the conflicting interests of several departments at once, you cannot make any serious changes without agreement with them.
Such situations in the company at least medium-sized enough. And as organizations grow, their number and complexity grows at every point. This means that the designer and the UX researcher cannot stay in their cozy little world and deal only with the visual part. Yes, and any other specialist, too. He must understand what is happening in related fields and, if necessary, intervene in related processes and influence their change. This is the current reality of more or less mature food companies.
Obviously, such problems have always existed and this did not prevent the technology from developing. But the speed of launching new products on the market and their development is growing. As well as their total number - in almost every market niche there is no crowding, so product teams have to keep pace.
In addition to speed, the amount of knowledge that a modern specialist should possess is growing. In addition to this, the essence of the work is becoming more complicated - there are more and more technological, interface and business aspects, we are solving more and more high-level tasks and problems every year. Previously, it was enough to go through the list of ten recommendations by Jacob Nielsen and the level of design of your product noticeably came off the competition. Now almost everyone has acquired the basic level of “interface hygiene” and we need to do more subtle work — involving the user, building cross-channel interaction, designing the entire service chain, and complex behavioral analytics.
The volume of required knowledge has always led to a strong specialization of the product team members - this is the only way to get all the necessary competencies at a fairly deep level. But market demands for speed are much more important - in an extremely peppy competitive environment, you need to deliver the product as quickly as possible and spend as little resources as possible. And to ensure this speed, the team must be brisk and well-coordinated, which is easiest to achieve with its compactness.
In order to make the team more dynamic, you need to get rid of unnecessary highly specialized roles. Those. remove unnecessary links in the chain from the product idea to implementation. There is always some overlap between them - a dedicated designer, product manager or designer can design an interface; prepare layout - a specialized coder, sensible designer or developer. If we choose the option with a dedicated specialist, then the quality of this work will be higher. But there are a lot of problems:
- Communication becomes more complicated and details are lost. All meetings and discussions are attended by more people so that they are aware of what is happening and everyone is sure that they equally understand what they are doing within the framework of a common vision.
- The production chain is lengthening. More stages of work, more time spent in total.
- Product liability is eroded. Everyone makes a small isolated piece, and then - the care of the next in the chain.
In short, this approach has high transaction costs. For design studios and other outsourcers, predictability is more important - they sell to the client a guaranteed result that can be achieved with strong formalization. But for a food company, speed is critical, so the process is built around it. And small startups also cannot afford to hire too many people. I wrote about this at the beginning of the year . Therefore, in many situations it is reasonable to combine several roles at once in one specialist.
Requirements for a Modern Designer
Who is needed in this new world? I'll try to make out the versatile qualities and responsibilities of a product designer.
It is important to reduce the transaction costs of the production process - the constant transition of project artifacts back and forth. They eat a lot of time and energy, forcing them to do a routine instead of an interesting job. You need to forget about the pipelined approach and move on to dynamic interaction. To do this, each member of the product team must be responsible for him and for the part that he contributes to it. This is possible only in a relatively compact team - otherwise the powers will intersect.
As a result, the main skill of a product designer is not so much the ability to work in a graphic editor, understand the code or analyze research data. The main skill is the desire and ability to take responsibility for the product. And with what exactly you can help this or that product team - this is already a question of its specificity. And in order to fit in well with it, to get the authority you need within it, you need to be flexible in terms of knowledge and not sour in one area.
A product designer does not live with stamps, mantras and professional templates. The structure of the site may correspond to best practices, but not fit into the real patterns of using the product. Common sense is a good guideline, but users often behave illogically, so a solution convenient for a specific audience of a particular product may run counter to generally accepted design logic. An ideal development of a function with unusual approaches to interaction may be unnecessary if a small percentage of users use it, and even then only occasionally.
The modern designer does not call developers lazy ghouls, sales - not far-fetched crumbs, and managers - narrow-minded tyrants. He understands their pain and tasks, combines several sources of requirements at once, draws conclusions and makes design decisions soberly and with an understanding of limitations. And it definitely has eggs to defend complex design decisions. You do meaningless work not when developers and managers change your design against your will, but when you don’t even try to influence it.
Modern digital products come largely from technology. When the web appeared, the developers themselves arranged the elements on the page and gave them some kind of style - someone should do it.
Amazon and Yahoo !, 1995
One of the main theorists of design and UX Donald Norman says that innovative breakthroughs occur primarily due to technology . And only then the design helps to adapt them for comfortable use.
Over time, as in other professions, a long and interesting path began to specialize and highlight roles - including connecting designers and researchers. And the composition of the project team, which included or attracted such a specialist, became mandatory. But with the increasing complexity of products and the development of technology, design specialization also began. About 7-10 years ago, companies needed a specialist who could communicate with users, design an interface, work out its visual design, including accompanying graphics like icons, and even participate in its layout. Over time, everyone realized that it was almost impossible to find a strong person in all these areas and began to hire a researcher, designer, designer and layout designer separately.
Yahoo !, one of the best designs of 2013 according to Apple
But now the pendulum has again swung in the opposite direction - food companies need a holistic designer. He will be very good in one of the key design competencies and not bad enough to cover the rest. And gradually pump them to become more and more useful. At most stages of the workflow, this will be enough, and if not, you can always bring in an expert on research, interfaces, visuals, or layout who can help you move forward. At the same time, at the level of a small company, it is quite normal to have one specialist of all trades. And as you grow, do a reasonable specialization around a certain group of skills - user research, interface design, visual design, front-end activity. The level of complexity of modern products is not weak, and here concretizing prefixes just appear.
Another interface classic, Jared Spool, launched the UX Unicorn Institute initiative on Kickstarter last year . He just needs to educate the multifaceted designers in demand in the grocery environment.
The word "design", unfortunately, is sometimes limited to the meaning of "design". Product design leads it to its original meaning - it is a specialist in determining what the product will be. Whether it is a researcher, designer, analyst, designer or even an engineer who defines the architecture of a system. Disputes about who is more important in this regard are quite meaningless. You either take responsibility for the product and solve its problems and business problems with the design. You either remain the page designer in Photoshop or the gray rectangles in Axure. You do not wait until they ask you - you propose changes yourself, recommend solutions, initiate processes.
There are problems
Of course, in such an active approach there are a lot of limitations and you will have to face them - the design itself will take less time, you will have to compromise. And if you approach the launches responsibly - a decent amount of time passes from design to release. It will not be easy from an emotional point of view. Taking responsibility for your design decisions and actively defending them, you are strongly attached to them. And it can be very sad and bitter if, as a result of disputes with managers and developers, you still have to redo them.
On the other hand, Christina Wodtke correctly observes that if a product fails, you run the risk of gaining mostly negative experiences. While the product manager can be completely fired.
But if you learn to work with it, you can turn mountains. Although for this it is important to understand the business and begin to speak the same language with it. Why does the company make these or those decisions, why do some people find it more important than others, what challenges does the business face, which areas will allow you to move forward, and which ones will be a bad job?
Knowing this, you can build your relationship in such a way as to be heard and understood. And have the authority to a much wider range of actions than just determining the nuances of interaction and visual style. It is important to solve business problems - then you will be on the same wavelength with it and you will be able to implement such profound changes in your design that you had never dreamed of before. By the way, it will also become easier to approve specific design solutions - I wrote about all this in the first part of the article.
Product designers began to be called active two or three years ago . We at Mail.Ru Group have come to roughly the same conclusions. About five years ago, the attitude to design in the company became serious and changes began. Unwind the flywheel - to update products, change processes, assemble and work out a team, change values and worldview - it takes some time for a company of this magnitude.
In the process of hiring a team and integrating it into the product work process, it became clear that people who are able to take responsibility and act as authority in their profession, given the objective reality (managers strive to influence design, do not give enough time, there are intersections of several projects in work schedule, etc.) - not so much. Many people can beautifully talk, draw well, and offer interesting visual and interactive concepts. But to act as a leader who will bring his decision to implementation despite the external environment - few are capable of this. The environment is generally very demanding at most successful technology companies.
Why it happens? There are not so many food companies in Russia, so the main source of specialists is agencies. And this is a completely different reality, in which there is rarely responsibility for design decisions to show themselves well at a distance. And only a part of designers communicate with the client directly, without managers. Not to mention access to users. More recently, the boom of startups has begun, which just should increase the number of product designers. But so far there are not so many successful stories among them, and this is the main criterion for the accumulation of the necessary experience. In the US and Europe, the market is more mature in all respects, but even here the explosion of a systematic approach to design on a massive scale has been taking place relatively recently.
But if the right specialists cannot be hired, they can be trained. The main thing here is the base - good design abilities and a desire to grow professionally. Three main aspects of professionalism can be distinguished:
- Attitude to business . A general approach to working on a product and participating in a product team. Landmark - increased involvement and responsibility.
- Skills . General and narrow professional abilities. The requirements for their width and depth are constantly growing, you need to match the time.
- Toolkit . Owning it is an opportunity to survive in the conditions of growing professional requirements. Landmark - automation of their work.
I will describe in detail each of the three components.
There are several important rules for organizing the work process, due to which there is an increase in involvement and general professionalism:
I already wrote about this above, but I’ll duplicate it more than once - this is a key moment for a product designer. To paraphrase the famous words of Steve Ballmer: responsibility, responsibility, responsibility!
In discussions, the implementation process and the future life of the product - a reaction to criticism of users, the study of how it works in practice. Moreover, the designer should not only be an outside observer, outlining the decisions made by others - he should have his own opinion, uphold or correct it. It is important not only to draw a design, but also to bring it to life.
Julie Zhuo says that leadership begins with responsibility for the problem , the ability of the designer to bring its solution to the desired result. Active participation allows you to educate local leaders.
Close link between designer and product manager
The densest of all within the team - they together determine what the product will be. In the early stages, the product manager cannot give exact specifications - how and what exactly needs to be done. He has only general, incomplete requirements, a hypothesis that needs to be worked out and jointly turned into final product solutions. And this requires many iterations, trial and error. If this communication goes through the task-tracker, and not personal interaction, the transaction costs go through the roof, turning everything into a worthless ping-pong.
So this approach is effective - thanks to constant interaction and communication, the vicious practice of “I was given the task, I drew” is minimized. In addition, the product manager is often overwhelmed with a bunch of administrative and other work not related to the definition of the product, so help is useful to him. It is important to show empathy not only to users, but also to colleagues in the team - the manager often receives from all sides.
Jeff Lash compares the role of product manager with president. He also has advisers on various aspects (design, back-end, front-end, marketing, etc.), who, with the help of answers to private questions “how the product should work”, help to solve the main problem in a certain aspect - “what and for whom should the product be made. " The interface is what the end user works with and what he often understands by the product (this is typical for consumer services, and more recently, more often for internal corporate systems). A good designer and researcher knows a lot about users and the manager needs this knowledge to successfully launch.
Jeff Lash has another excellent presentation, showing the overlap of the functions of the product manager and front-end specialists:
Transition to team model, pair work
Several designers work on the same task from different angles, communicate closely and thereby look at it from different points of view, doubly carefully, with different skills. Moreover, such pairs are formed situationally, based on the task and the set of skills necessary to solve it. In today's world, it is becoming increasingly difficult to have highly specialized employees in all areas. Just as you will never guess what combination of skills will be required tomorrow. Such situational working groups just allow you to get a rare combination of skills due to the close work of several designers. This enriches not only the product, but also the team itself - the skills are being tightened for everyone.
In situational working groups there are no hierarchical models and subordination. Rather, there are tacit leaders in areas instead of bosses - one is strong in promotional design, the second coordinates the guidelines better, the third is the Android master. And in every situation they turn to him for advice.
An interesting point with this approach is that it can be difficult to single out who the author of a particular design is, because the collaboration was so close. But there is always a responsible one - who exactly collected all the ideas, proposals, analytics and developments together, formed the final solution on their basis and brought it to mind. Therefore, the meaning of authorship design in food companies is different.
Pairing is also important for other specialists - a bunch of a designer with a UX researcher, front-end developer, etc. It is important to reduce the transaction costs of the conveyor process - the constant transition of design back and forth. It is they who eat a lot of time and energy, forcing them to engage in routine instead of interesting work.
Get rid of artifacts
Specifications, prototypes, design layouts, and other design artifacts are a way to convey an understanding of what a product should be. And that means transaction costs too. The best product specification is a working product. And it is better to spend time polishing the product itself than on aesthetic accompanying documents. Therefore, the product designer seeks to minimize the creation of collateral artifacts.
If you can not draw a layout, and dig deeper with the developer, it will save time and effort, and the changes will get into the product faster. Transferring ideas on a secondary screen in the form of a sketch or a quick sketch in digital form is much easier than licking out its layout in detail. Artifacts very quickly become obsolete and it takes a lot of time and effort to keep them up to date. Do you want to be an archivist or is it better to solve more interesting problems? Do not build your career around a tool or documentation format like wireframes, move on and wider.
It is important not only to process incoming requests, but to understand why and why they come, who forms them and how you can influence them. And even better - to think about what will need to be done in a week, month, year. Not to draw new patterns every time, but to systematize the developments and use them repeatedly - for the comfort of users, the speed of development and reducing manual work for yourself. Try to automate part of the work.
Do not try to solve all problems in one jerk - in a complex product it will be too large and smeared. It is better to build an ongoing process for implementing change and improvement. First, it is important to turn hell into adequate. From adequat - to do something modern and trendy. And after that, you can already think about how to set trends yourself. You can skip steps, but at a distance systematicity beats heroism. Especially paired with hard work and perseverance.
We are also expected to have a certain level of professional erudition, a deep knowledge of our subject area - what is in demand now will be relevant in the near future, and even better - and how we have historically come to modern interfaces. And it would seem that gaining this whole level of knowledge is not so simple, but maintaining and developing it looks even more expensive.
New platforms are constantly being added for which we are creating interfaces - you need to understand both the features of each of them and the construction of user interaction with several devices at once. Well, the depth of knowledge in the main subject area is growing continuously - products and solutions are becoming more complex and multifactorial. You need to spend enough time reading books and articles, participating in professional communities, studying and collecting patterns, writing your own publications and presentations. This is the only way to keep up with the speed of changes in the industry and increase the overall level of competence.
What gives such an attitude to knowledge?
- Quick and in-depth exploration of new market niches when work needs come. You already have a ready-made selection of patterns, studies, successes and failures - this gives an excellent head start.
- Quick response to market changes . Android Wear and Apple Watch have only shown, and you have been following competitors for a couple of years and know how you can build interaction with such devices. The same applies to more pragmatic things - the new version of Android, approaches to solving interface problems in specific market niches.
- Increased credibility within the company and the industry as a whole . You can answer many questions much earlier and deeper than the rest. Which means it is more often in demand by colleagues who trust you as a professional.
All this makes you a stronger specialist and more valuable employee. So the investment of time pays off with professional and career growth. Of course, erudition does not eliminate the need to produce a practical result - few people need a walking encyclopedia with a mediocre exhaust. But in combination, the sleekness and deep knowledge give an explosive result.
Ability to negotiate
The product designer does not stand in a pose and does not say "only this way or nothing." It balances between the limitations of time, technology, priorities, current resources. He seeks to do his job perfectly, but is ready to compromise if, for example, it is important to release a product as early as possible, despite some problems in the current implementation of the design. At the same time, it is insisted that improvements be made immediately after launch. The balance between the interests of business and the user is important - in the real world it will never be possible to observe them 100%.
The first impression after the release is important, but this is only the beginning of a long journey, during which the product will often be refined and improved. Perfectionism is a good quality if it does not dominate common sense. Many young designers are ready to break into a cake in order to achieve a certain ideal state of the product for launch. Although it is at this moment that a lot of data about real use comes, which lead to numerous changes regarding this ideal image! Cameron Tonkinwise great describes this problem .
And, most importantly, the product designer is integrated into the team. Together with her, she solves problems, and does not work as a free artist who does tasks on demand and tries to distance herself from the process. Only in a tight connection and communication on a personal level can you escape from the problems of the conveyor. According to Khoi Vinh, the most critical time for a designer to participate in grocery work is all the time . Although the most important period is on the eve of launch, when the bulk of the implementation problems come out and the first data on the actual use of the product appears. So the initial interface solutions change a lot and often.
The modern lean UX concept perfectly solves all these problems. Another thing is that large companies are not so easy to apply it in its pure form. Although the desire for absolute purity of methods is often more religious, rather than practical. But this is another excellent example of the modern format of the work of the designer - you need to focus on him.
One of the interesting lean UX formats is a product designer who acts as a self-agency. In different contexts of the product’s life, the team addresses it with its problems, and it - according to the situation, decides what it is best to help it right now. It is necessary to abandon rigidly defined processes and collect them along the way. NForm is pretty good at describing a variant of this approach .
Work on the product, not at work
The product you're working on is used by thousands and millions of people. It is incredibly nice when you are thanked for it - and just on the Internet, and maybe personally friends and acquaintances. Better yet, if all of this is also commercially successful - a dead company is of no use to anyone. This is much cooler than likes on Behance and Dribbble. So the main focus and attention should be paid to solving the problems of users and business, and the portfolio will attach by itself to the successful product. Tools and artifacts, methods and practices, workflow - all these are only ways to solve these problems. It is important to know about all the latest in the industry and be prepared to apply them, but not to put them at the forefront.
I described the requirements for a modern designer quite broadly. But what exactly should he be able to? I’ll try to make out the whole set of skills that are potentially useful in the product team. I will not talk about specific methods, but rather about key tasks:
- Analytical and Creative Thinking
- Facilitation of meetings, brain storms, criticism
- Communication and teamwork
- Understanding Domain and Market
- Identify and track front-end and product metrics
- Building and testing product hypotheses
- Statistics, analysis and visualization of large volumes of data
User research and analytics
- Understanding and description of users (characters, scenarios, customer journey map, etc.)
- Search for insights and needs
- Design Check
Information architecture and interface design
- Structure and Navigation Design
- Проектирование экранов интерфейса и их интерактивных прототипов
- Проектирование взаимодействия вне интерфейса (сервис-дизайн)
- Описание принципов работы интерфейса и паттернов
- Базовые навыки: композиция и сетки, типографика, цветоведение
- Иконографика и иллюстрации
- Анимация интерфейса и моушен-дизайн
- Создание гайдлайнов
- Визуализация данных
- Айдентика и брендинг
- Шрифтовой дизайн
- Работа с источниками данных
- Настройка рабочего окружения для тестирования и запуска сервисов
- Оптимизация (производительности, отображения в разных браузерах и т.п.)
Контент-стратегия и копирайтинг
- Построение контент-стратегии и планирование
- Экспертная оценка
- Формализованное тестирование качества
Маркетинг и PR
- Публикации и презентации
- Продвижение мобильных приложений
Project and Product Management
- Design work planning
- Team organization
- Building a UX Strategy
It is clear that one person will never combine all this at a sufficiently deep level. However, a modern designer is required at least to be aware of all the items on this list, with a focus on some of them. Such designers are usually called T-shaped , with the difference that the width of the letter is becoming larger.
Nathaniel Davis offers an excellent vertical technique to describe the right specialist and his strengths. My set is a little different, but everyone always has a little their own vision of a professional landscape. For each of the sets, I see four levels:
- Осведомленность — понимание того, как работает специалист в этой области. Какие задачи выполняет, каков рабочий процесс и инструментарий, методы и практики, какие особенности и ограничения накладываются на него.
- Умение — способность решать базовые задачи в области. Доделать не очень важный кусок работ за ведущим специалистом, собрать макет или прототип на основе чужих наработок, внести осмысленные доработки в существующий документ и т.п.
- Экспертиза — выполнение большинства задач в области знаний. От начала до конца и, зачастую, самостоятельно. Способность разобраться в нетипичной ситуации.
- Лидерство — способность передать экспертизу другим участникам команды. Помощь в обучении и профессиональном росте коллег, развитии инструментария и методов работы, повышении общей дизайн-культуры. Возможность указать на проблемную ситуацию в проекте или процессе и помочь в ее решении.
Awareness should be across all skill groups. And the further the market develops, the closer we are to the fact that the second level, skill, must be mandatory. But expertise, as well as leadership, will always require focus in certain areas.
It is important to remember the difference between a role and a specific specialist. Depending on the project, one person can fill several roles at once, or vice versa, for a certain role, several people will have to be involved. Once an engineer performs the role of a designer if the team does not have the right person now. And the designer can replace the product manager in certain areas, if he is overloaded. There is a role, and on top of it should be layered expertise, authority, responsibility - how much a competent and independent specialist is needed to fill it.
One of the most prominent management theorists, Yitzhak Adizes, offers the PAEI model to characterize managers. He says that for successful company management, you need to pump all four components - production (production), administration (administration), entrepreneurship (entrepreneurship) and integration (integration). However, a specific manager in itself is inclined only to some of them, so it cannot effectively close all the needs of the organization. And we need a bunch of several managers in order for the company to live and grow harmoniously.
A similar model is needed to describe the composition of a strong design team. Jacob Harris makes a good attempt to get her out - He suggests focusing on the complexity of the subject area and the product itself. I will offer my vision of this model in one of the following parts on team building.
The knowledge requirements and workload are daunting - without modern tools it is extremely difficult to meet them. And now everything is fine with them - templates, programs, plugins, scripts and web services for automating everything and everything appear in huge quantities. Once upon a time, for designing an interface, you had to run training-intensive things like Visio or Omnigraffle. Now any manager can jot down their ideas in Balsamiq , Moqups or Pop . Of course, an experienced designer will use a specialized tool, but if you just need to quickly convey your idea, a low threshold for entry is just that. The same story in many other areas:
Interactive Mobile App Prototypes
InVision , Flinto , Marvel , Proto.io and a dozen more services - it's easy to put together a live demo, and with animation too. Someone immediately goes to Xcode, Android Studio or MS Expression Blend - it’s even easier to understand the development possibilities and get closer to it.
Animation on the web and mobile
You can build a one-page promotion site with all the animation in Adobe Edge Animate - the output will be a curve, but HTML. A bunch of Quartz Composer and Origami binding for it from Facebook designers allows you to create powerful animations for mobile, and the output will be the exact formulas for developers. This niche is one of the fastest growing - of the most interesting and promising, you can also mention Pixate , Noodl , Form .
Templates and Stencils
Sites like Pixeden , designers on Dribbble and commands like Teehan + Lax (oops! The eve of publication of the article, they closed the site in connection with the sale of Facebook) issue any templates with great frequency. Recently, Photoshop plugins have become popular, which make it even easier to use ready-made elements - for example, DevRocket . And in Sketch, these kinds of things are generally heaps.
Publishing and native content
Making single-page, long-reads and good design articles is becoming easier and cheaper - ReadyMag , Medium , Tilda , Squarespace , Webflow and other services on the web give an effective adaptive result cheaply. WordPress was once an achievement, but we have come a long way. Although it still remains a steep foundation for interesting solutions like Aesop and Qards .
Web classic Jeffrey Zeldman says that the need for moving web standards has been decreasing recently - browsers have become sane, and coding is available to everyone.
Transferring Design to Developers
Previously, they constantly debated who should cut mobile design - a designer or a developer. But now there are a lot of plugins like PNG Express , Cut & Slice Me or Resonator . And the software manufacturers themselves began to embed it - Sketch does the cutting out of the box, Adobe released the Generator for Photoshop CC. Along with this, completely new approaches appear, such as Zeplin and Markly , which are revising the interaction between designers and developers.
The barrier to entry for services like Google Analytics has always been minimal, but thanks to a lot of useful publications from people like Avinash Kaushik, you can use them to get data more interesting than a simple bounce rate. It is unlikely that you can independently launch A / B tests in the working environment of a complex service, but to conduct them on a small or personal project - just spit using Content Experiments in the same Google Analytics.
There are dozens of tools for conducting surveys and remote usability testing, which also provide a user base - UserZoom , Usabilla , UserTesting , SurveyMonkey and a huge long tail, more or less popular. They are not fully accessible for all markets (the interface is localized, but not in the respondent base), but it’s great to help out with these caveats.
Knowledge Base and Collaboration
Someone collects small notes in Evernote , and the MailChimp UX team was able to build on it an impressive knowledge base . Many teams have mastered Pinterest to collect patterns and mudboards, which is great thanks to the secret collections. Even more dynamic knowledge sharing is provided by services like Slack and promises Facebook at Work . All this is cheap and cheerful.
An unrealistic amount of training materials, articles, communities, online courses, etc. also helps. - easy to understand and get help in absolutely any issue. Moreover, even the narrowest niches are full of these materials - as Product Hunt Steven Sinofsky mentor says , even those who are fond of crocheting are interested in fresh and relevant content on their subject.
In general, do it yourself. No need to dream about, “if I had a development team” - a lot is done with our own hands. The idea of visual programming, which has long attracted leading experts like Bret Taylor, is getting closer to reality. You need to go beyond the boundaries of drawing layouts and remove part of the routine from yourself in order to devote free time to development and more interesting things. Automating your workflow in order to do more with less is a guideline for a modern designer.
This is already done by guys like Teehan + Lax with templates, Meng To with training for Xcode for designers , Facebook with their Origami , my colleagues with a plugin for automatic slicing Resonator and many others. A completely crazy examples like AprilZero from Anand Sharmashow that everything is possible - the designer went through the entire cycle from thinking through, designing and visual design to the implementation and launch of the personal information service! A lot of designers write their own scripts and plugins, and many go further and make their own tools - 2014 was generally the year of their crazy boom. The success of Sketch, which pushed monstrous Photoshop from the awesome scale of Adobe, has inspired many.
In order for the UX strategy to work, we need to work systematically at all levels - from a shared vision to the values of a particular member of the product team. Therefore, in my series of publications I will cover all key aspects of the design process. And I wanted to start with the designer in the broad sense, including the researcher and others influencing the final interface. It is this fighter who helps the product happen and is the foundation of everything.
Modern design is not just trends - flat, animation orchestration, smart watches, etc. Or mastery of the latest tools and best practices. This is a modern understanding of the role of design in the world. We know a lot about how the user works with the product and this knowledge makes us extremely valuable for managers and customers. And design thinking, applied to organizational processes, allows you to go beyond the screens of the interface and influence how the company as a whole works.
Together with specific skills, they give a significantly greater exhaust. So it's time to actively develop in a broad sense, not limited to the narrow niche of the main skills. And there, you look, other stages of career development will open - leadership by a design team, product management, designer-founder of the company (Airbnb, Mailbox, Tumblr and others) or even the CEO of a large corporation (as happened with Lexus and Kia). This is possible if you learn to take responsibility and the risks associated with it. Only then you stop being the engine of pixels or gray squares and begin to solve the real problems of business and users.