Hi folks. When I've searched out new gigs in the past I have always had a sense of what I'm looking for in a design team — things that are a must in helping me decide whether or not to join that team.
What are things that drew you to your current team or, if you're currently searching, the things that you want from a new team? I'd love to hear from you.
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When I joined my previous team as their second designer they were very early on in developing a design process. It was great experience working to shape the process through trial and error, but in any future teams I'm not sure if I would want to go through it again. I'd want to make sure they at least have a moderate level of maturity, and a commitment to improving.
Sure. Some context: the team was mostly dev lead working on web apps. There was a PM and scrum master. They were super into agile/scrum and were based around 2 week sprints. Devs were full stack but specialized in back end. Designers all knew HTML/CSS, but no JS frameworks.
A lot of the early days were spent trying to get the team to think design first instead of dev first. Thankfully they were on board with the idea so there wasn't much trouble here.
Next prob was trying to figure out the timing of each step. Initially we tried modifying the design of a feature and getting it developed in the same sprint. It was fine for small things but very quickly this was no longer feasible. We eventually got to the point where we were designing a feature in one sprint, then having it implemented the next. Next real turning point was when we got even further ahead and broke the tie between design/dev. We designed features/components independently of a developer's need. It gave us some breathing room to focus on our design system docs too.
Another prob was how to break up a request into multiple tasks. Initially we went from "fixing" features to redesigning features. As requests for new functionality came in, the position transitioned to typical product designer work. A lot of research, exploring solutions, speaking with stakeholders/PMs, etc. So tasks went from just "design x" to "research x", "wireframe x", "create x component for x feature", "document x", and "qa x".
Biggest thing I think was still unresolved when I left was our development flow. All our designers knew HTML/CSS which was a weakness for our devs. So we built a lot of our UI prototypes in code. We would then hand off our code to a dev for them to implement in their code. Main problem was we were essentially duplicating the same work twice, just in different languages. This lead to a lot of bugs or back and forth cause someone would miss something. I would have liked to have transitioned our code to a shared language so we could collaborate and share stuff easier, but I left before I could accomplish that.
Post is getting long but one last thing I'll mention is documentation. Super important to get the knowledge in people's heads written down. A year down the road everyone will forget everything, or the members of the team will change. Writing down the intent behind decisions is the biggest thing.
In hindsight a lot of this stuff might seem obvious, but it's one thing to join a team that has this stuff figured out and another to experience working through it yourself. You get a real appreciation for why things are the way they are.