3 Fundamentals of Successful Product Design Teams

Establish Opportunities to Connect

Tips:

  • Prepare — Create agendas to set expectations and prep attendees with the type of feedback you’re looking for that will help focus conversation. Not every team is fortunate enough to have a project manager at every meeting, so delegate someone to own this process for every meeting.
  • Iterate — Establishing recurring meetings is important to set cadence and to hold each other accountable. Adjust frequency and timing as needed, but try to keep those touchpoints instead of cancelling due to busy schedules.
  • Customize — If daily status meetings (“Stand-ups”) can’t take place in person, try a “Slack-up”, where everyone posts at the same time (you guessed it) on Slack. Create a separate channel to ensure it doesn’t get overlooked by general conversation.
“Slack-ups” are short daily lists on Slack, highlighting yesterday’s progress and what you’re aiming to do today.

Promote Transparency and Awareness

Tips:

  • Democratize prioritization — Workshopping together with stakeholders gets everyone in the same room and clear on what matters. Using a method like a prioritization matrix, fill post-its with all known priorities and organize them on a grid according to variables that matter to your team.
Prioritization grids can compare different variables like User Value, Effort Required, Business Value, Risk, etc.
  • Roadmaps can help to visualize priorities, but they don’t have to be time-based. It can be as simple as categories like “Now, Next, Later” or “Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4” so there’s room for fluctuation.
  • Capture and manage priorities — Teams typically use Kanban tools like Jira, Trello, or Asana (among others) to easily organize tasks into columns of: To Do, Doing, Done, and Backlog. This is where important details, links, and status information about tasks are tracked and catalogued.

Develop a Common Language

Tips:

  • Feature documentation — As designers, we document as many functional and interactive details as possible when we deliver a feature. This process helps to inform not only the architects and developers who are responsible for the build, but also for teammates picking up work in the future. For a recent team, we delivered an interactive cover sheet in Zeplin that is linkable to subsequent screens.
A cover sheet detail and bird’s-eye view of a deliverable using Sketch’s Prototyping feature to link to screens in Zeplin.
  • Visual QA (quality assurance testing) — Most development teams have functional QA built into their process, but visual QA is an important step to ensure the design and interactions have been built as originally intended and approved. Non-gating issues can be prioritized so that developers know what to pick up first in their downtime.
  • Build in time for visual QA testing before or even after a release.
  • Using Airtable, document the current and expected state of bugs, visual inconsistencies, and usability issues and assign priorities.
Airtable is a great tool to organize feedback, compare various content types, store image assets, assign priority and collaborate with teammates.

Conclusion

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