Love me Love. How can a designer and a product work better together?

Hello! I Vanya Solovyov, design director at SberHealth. Three years ago, I talked about how a designer can make friends with a product to create strong solutions together. In product companies, this topic is still relevant today, so I decided to update the article, taking into account the experience gained.

It will help designers and products to understand whether everything is good in their work with each other. And if this is not the case, he will tell you how to set up the process.

Why is it so important?

In no case should you underestimate the contribution of UX researchers, copywriters, system analysts and other team members. But the well-coordinated work of the designer and the product, to a greater extent, is the key to creating a strong solution. If there is no well-coordinated work and mutual understanding at their level, then work with other participants will be based on the same principle.

When cooperation fails

Imagine a product comes to a designer not with a problem, but with a ready-made solution. He holds out the interface prototype drawn in Miro and says: “Here’s an idea, draw.” It will be great if he talks about the task, and does not throw a link to the protocol. And this is repeated over and over again. With this approach, the product sees in the designer only the final executor of his ideas.

How does this affect the designer?

  • Motivation weakens. It does not directly affect the product, but implements other people’s ideas.

  • Problems with self-realization. In his work, he uses a couple of basic skills and that’s it, because. does not use all his strengths and skills.

  • Communication skills deteriorate. Not ready to defend his decisions, even if they are better than those proposed by the product.

  • Weak involvement in the product. He is connected in the middle of the process, and he does not see the whole task.

How does this affect the company

  • Decisions are created out of context. They do not always turn out to be optimal and rarely achieve the set metrics and goals.

  • Communication problems. When something goes wrong, the product team floods the designer with edits without clear explanations.

  • There is no common understanding of solutions. After a certain number of tasks, the interface begins to “fall apart”, as the products rarely monitor the integrity of the entire product.

  • surface solutions. The product often has little time to think through the solution well, so the interface can be built literally on his hunches.

Often, such a product does not have a goal to do the task well. He tends to close one task and move on to the next. This “habit” passes to the designer and the process closes: the product gives its own solution to the problem → the designer draws without thinking → the task goes into development. Further, everything can be dispensed with, or maybe not: the user will receive an uncomfortable interface, business – a drop in key metrics.

Designers, if you recognize yourself, think about what will happen to you after a year of work at this pace. How far will you progress in your development?

What to do?

First, decide if this style of work brings you satisfaction. After all, not every designer needs constant development; you can be content with the role of a performer. If you decide that this does not suit you, but you like the company, it’s time to improve processes. Here are some tips that have helped our

  • Nothing will change in the moment. Change takes time and it’s best to be prepared for it. In three months it is quite possible to see positive changes.

  • Try to “show”, not “prove”. Do not prove to the product that he is wrong. Show that there are other ways to solve the problem. For example, conduct an interview and show your accounting interface, share your observations with it. Remember that you both want to make the best decision and it is worth directing your energy towards finding this solution, and not empty talk.

  • Together is strength. Wanted to work on the task together with the product from the very beginning, but he is against it? Show that you are driven by a common goal – to improve the usability of the product. The user will complete their tasks faster, the grandmother will be able to use the interface, etc. And, most importantly, together you are more likely to do it.

  • Connect logic. Argument your decisions logically and ask the product to do the same. This will help weed out controversial “I like it better” decisions. It is good practice to rely on research results: “I looked at competitors, and there it is like this” or “showed a prototype to users, and they said this and that.”

When cooperation is fruitful

What happens when the product listens to the opinion of the designer and sees a partner in him? He realizes that a product that is useful for the user and valuable for the business needs to be done together, and begins to delegate part of the work. Because he trusts. And he comes to the designer not with a solution, but with a raw problem. Together they begin to think about possible solutions. At this level of relationship, the real work begins.

With such a product, the designer quickly acquires new skills and immediately puts them into practice. He begins to look wider and see the task not in isolation, but in the context of the entire product.

How does this affect the designer?

  • Increases motivation. The designer directly influences the product and user experience.

  • Self-realization is not a problem. In his work, he uses versatile skills, developing them along the way.

  • Soft skills are pumped. The designer learns to conduct research, test prototypes on users, and also acquires the useful qualities of a product.

  • High involvement in the product. In each task, he strives to show all his knowledge and skills.

How does this affect the company

  • Reduced iterations. The designer understands what and why he is doing, can offer the best solutions, and therefore the number of edits is reduced.

  • Improving the quality of projects. By delegating some of the tasks to the designer, the product spends more time on working out the solution itself.

  • Expanding responsibility. The designer is worried not only about the beauty of the interface, but also about its results “in battle”. The growth of metrics pleases both the designer and the company more than beautiful buttons.

Instead of totals

Unfortunately, in 2022, not all products understand the benefits of this principle of working with designers. The former are conservative – it is difficult for them to adopt such an approach. The latter seem to want to, but they cannot, because it is difficult to introduce new processes in the company. And still others work at their own comfortable pace and simply close tasks.

The starting point for change can be the understanding that both the product and the designer want to make the best product on the market. To achieve this, they need to use all their strengths, which are revealed only in teamwork.

Love me Love. Product fire, night and day.

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