Digital design plays a crucial role in how we interact with technology and each other online. But, it’s hard to get right. In our experience we’ve found that the right team, flexible technology and effective processes make the difference.

Creating a successful digital product design dynamic in your team

Digital design plays a crucial role in how we interact with technology and each other online. But, it’s hard to get right. In our experience we’ve found that the right team, flexible technology and effective processes make the difference.

Chris Lewis
Head of Design, Co-Founder
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Team harmony

A team with empathy, comfortable with change and good communication are fundamental to the design process.
Inclusive and honest design feedback
Digital design is very process driven and complex, which can make it overwhelming to understand how to feedback on design.

We strongly believe in having the right mindset and attitude across the team is the first step in enabling a more collaborative environment. This environment is maintained by the people rigorously practising a collaborative culture where the work is objective, based in evidence and where strong egos are unwelcome. Starting from the top, we must care for the people on our team, and be inclusive of each level. The right people are optimistic with a healthy dose of cynicism.
Embracing change
Change is scary, and not for everyone. Some people may resist new design concepts, technologies or processes. They may prefer sticking with what they know or fear change. As we learn user behaviour, as consumers change their patterns and as technology updates, change really is a constant and as individual contributors we must be mentally prepared for it. 

As team members, we should resolve each other's concerns and communicate the benefits of the changes. Some effective strategies are to involve users in the design process, frequently provide clear explanations and demonstrations of the value of the work. Additionally, empower people by offering training or tutorials. This will make them feel more comfortable with change and encourage adoption.
Clear communication
It’s obvious but true. Poor communication between designers, stakeholders and engineers can lead to misunderstandings and design that doesn't meet the intended goals or requirements. 

Establish clear channels of communication. Such as regular team meetings or project management tools. Encourage open and honest dialogue. Provide design documentation, wireframes and prototypes to help ensure that everyone is on the same page. Additionally, implementing a user-centred design approach can help foster empathy and collaboration among team members.
Personal bias
It’s one of the hardest things to do but not removing personal bias can influence design decisions and lead to designs that are not user-friendly or accessible. Self-awareness and empathy are vital traits to overcome this. 

To overcome this, prioritise user research and testing. This can involve gathering feedback from a diverse group of users throughout the design process. Additionally, adopt accessibility guidelines to help ensure that products are inclusive and accessible to all. Encourage a culture of diversity and inclusion within the design team to mitigate personal bias and promote a more collaborative and empathetic design approach. 

Finally, reflect on your personal biases and seek out diverse perspectives to help you identify and address your potential biases in design decisions.
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Expensive, inflexible and tech-led solutions can often make creating and enhancing user experiences difficult.
Strategic alignment
Sometimes it can feel like being held hostage when trying to create and evolve new experiences. We have found that when all teams are invested in the businesses long-term goals and understand customer value we get the best results. Each person treats the business goals and budgets as if they were their own.

Defining the vision and strategy together and putting the right communication and prioritisation processes in place help both teams align. Constantly co-designing with development teams, designers and product managers helps keep features on budget and resolve scope issues effectively.
Change is constant in maintaining, creating and evolving new experiences. Budgets change, we learn about customer behaviour or business strategy changes. It’s vitally important that the teams and solutions are flexible and forward focussed. It’s equally important to maintain a controlled development process but that should not limit how your development partner or team works with you to resolve problems.
Thinking ahead
You may have to make big, expensive and time-consuming tech-stack swaps when you choose your technical solution before you have considered the holistic user experience and captured the necessary requirements.

Make sure to create a vision for the experience layer based on customer insights. Use this experience to work in technology architecture. Finally, unpack that vision into a logical release roadmap.
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A good process ensures that each team member is accountable, the work is driven by user and business impact and it puts experiences in front of customers asap.
Share and own problems
Without clear accountability, team members won't take ownership of their tasks. Causing delays or incomplete work. Additionally, team members less-likely to communicate, share progress, and identify and resolve issues. Without accountability, team members are not invested in the project's success resulting in a lack of motivation. This leads to a breakdown in teamwork and collaboration. Resulting in a product that does not achieve its objectives.

Fostering an accountable culture helps to resolve accountability issues. Make everyone aware of how success is measured. Make sure that when starting any project or sprint that everyone involved in the process has a clear expectation of who is responsible, accountable, consulted and informed. 
User testing
Without testing, we may not understand the needs of our target audience. This can lead to a product that doesn't meet users' expectations. This can result in low adoption rates, decreased customer satisfaction, and lost revenue. We could miss issues that users may encounter with the product. Such as usability problems or bugs - leading to a poor user experience.

Test often and iterate. Make sure that there is a clear research strategy in place. But, don’t just test for testing sake.
Actionable insights
Conducting research without defining how the resulting information can be acted on is a waste of effort. Having too much information to analyse can also lead to confusion and a loss of momentum. It makes it easy to miss the right signals. 

Define a well thought through research strategy that outlines a clear purpose, methodology and target audience before starting. When synthesising your data, make sure to apply UX best practice on keeping your summaries clear and concise with scannable titles. Think about how each layer of information is unpacked at the correct altitude.
Business needs over customer needs
Making decisions solely based on business goals and objectives can lead to a product that doesn't meet user needs. This can result in low adoption rates, lost revenue and low customer satisfaction.

When evaluating your priorities, always make sure that you are identifying both the customer impact and the business impact your decision will have. Review your overall strategy and weigh up the ‘cost’ of making the business decision.
These are only some of the things we’ve picked up over the many projects we’ve delivered over the years.

It’s not exhaustive and there are far too many things to get across in one article. The point is, good design doesn’t have to be difficult if you look after your team, implement flexible technology and work the process.
If you’d like to know more about how we work, please get in touch.