How to Build a Strong Design Team

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How to Build a Strong Design Team

A strong design team is a combination of the right specialists, sensible management, a safe work environment, constant communication, a well-organized design process, and many other small details. And all those aspects are equally important when you want to build a perfect design team


In this article, we are going to discuss all the above-mentioned components that help you create the team of your dreams. And to start with, let’s figure out what design professionals you may need for this purpose.  


Roles and responsibilities in a design team 


Usually, projects start from UI/UX design, as it serves as a basis for further product development. Therefore, the main goal of a design team is to create a layout that is both aesthetically pleasant, and usable and then hand it over to developers so that they can turn this layout into real app/website/software.

 

UI/UX team may consist of:

  • UX designer who is primarily concerned with how the product interacts with the user.

  • UI designer who cares about how a product looks.

  • UX researcher who knows all about the needs of users.

  • Design lead who mentors, supports, and supervises other designers.

  • UX writer who creates appropriate copy for each screen.


The above five roles do not necessarily have to be performed by five different people. In most cases, one specialist owns several (or all) the needed skills. Moreover, having five designers doesn’t mean they are a team. It takes effort to turn them into a team. And to start growing you have to make efforts systematized.


Inalienable components of an effective design team


Management


Sometimes, people who just start building their team think that being a manager is a position in which you do nothing, but give orders while your team does everything for you. Indeed, managing creative people includes setting tasks, monitoring their implementation and deadlines, motivation, mentoring, constant support, and much more.


As soon as you realize it you will learn how to lead a team. Without the right motivation, creativity most often does not work. To achieve good results a person responsible for managing designers should constantly cooperate, communicate with colleagues, ideate, and test the ideas together.


Design process (tools, deliverables)


To be able to effectively perform all tasks and deliver each piece of design in time, you need to organize the workflow of the whole team and make it consistent. Clearly defined steps of the design process, design tools, and deliverables will help you keep everyone aligned with the same goal.


There are no ideal processes. And in order to avoid deadlocks, we need to pay more attention to the rules that we bring to projects. 


Think out:


  • A unified project management process from research to delivery - from the first glance at the client's problems to the optimal solution to their needs. 

  • Methods of communication with each other. At our design agency, we found Slack to be the most convenient tool and solve all work issues exclusively there. As well, we consider email inconvenient, but we still communicate with clients there in order to avoid disruption of agreements on their part. So, find means of communication that would be the most suitable for you and your team members.

  • Tools. Decide what tools are better to use for your purposes (ideation, brainstorming, wireframing, sketching, prototyping, etc.). For example, previously, everyone would use Adobe XD, later designers began to actively use Sketch, now it’s time for Figma’s popularity. As you can see, design tools tend to lose their relevance with time, so don’t forget to regularly review and revise your tool selection process.

  • Research. Clearly define the order of the processes during your research phase: the study of stakeholders, user research, competitor analysis, market review, and so on.

  • The procedure for working with files. Create a knowledge base where you will clearly describe everything related to grids, typography, UI kits, design systems. Maintaining this database is a rather complicated process. But if you develop a habit in your team to regularly use the database, replenishing it, and updating it, then in the end you will not be able to live without it.


Knowledge base and mentoring


Creating a knowledge base in your company serves as a:


1. Way to keep everything in one place. If we have a new team member, sharing a document that contains all the important information on your design process and corporate rules allows you to quickly introduce newbies to the community and make their onboarding not that stressful.

2. Mentoring program. I am sure, each of your employees has unique knowledge that they are ready and willing to share - this will help you to grow within the team.

Planing 


Without planning, the team cannot work properly. To have a common understanding of what you are doing and why in order to achieve a final goal, we recommend holding regular meetings:


  • Weekly meeting. For example, every Monday, try to hold a one-hour meeting where you discuss what happened in the previous week, what each designer has learned, what are your plans for the next week, and present reports by areas of responsibility.

  • Monthly Retrospective & Planning. Once a month you can get together for an hour, discuss what successes and failures you have had over the past month. On the basis of this information, you can create a plan for the next month.

  • Quarterly Retrospective & Planning has the same purpose, but you hold it once every three months.


Communication


It may seem that when you work in one office together, you already quite actively communicate with the team. You know what successes, problems, and pains someone has, but to see a full picture try to have one on one communication with your employees as well. It turns out to be quite useful and promotes better teamwork. 


Some people may be too shy to talk about their problems in regular meetings. By implementing regular personal communication in your duties, you will receive positive feedback. Such meetings help to cope with psychological problems within the team, keep a safe work environment and prevent employees turnover.


To sum up


To successfully promote a product, it is important for a leader to develop their team, facilitate the exchange of knowledge and help maintain a safe work environment. When your workers are happy, they are able to create better design solutions. And defining clear stages of product design processes and tools you use for different purposes make it easier for your team to prosper and scale.

Published by Marianna Snitko

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