A few lessons learnt from my first year in a design team

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A couple of months ago, I wrote a post on the Pusher blog about a few lessons that I learned after 6 months of working in a startup. This is a follow up post, but with more of a focus on what it's like working in a design team.

The old Pusher office

1) Learning how to give feedback is important, but so is learning to take it

This is something that I was hesitant to put in, as it's something that's totally personal.

Everyone has an opinion. But be careful who’s you take it and how you apply them. ‘Opinion’ is simply someone's personal views on something. It doesn't mean it's right, nor does it mean it's wrong. User testing wins over opinion.

2) Stay relevant

This isn't just a case of staying up to date with trends, but it’s about always forming your opinion and thoughts on design. It’s one of the things that you’ll hear over and over again: ‘Don’t let your opinion influence your design’. But learn to form your own thinking.

At Pusher for example, even though we pretty much sit next to each other, as a team we like to take some time out to share our thoughts and build up a discussion every now and again. Besides also being a way of blowing off some steam on a Friday afternoon, it’s also a great way to hear someone else’s perspective through a medium other than Twitter.

We have a weekly 'Inspire, Create, Debate' session, where we set aside 20-to-30 minutes, and take it in turns to choose a topic to discuss. It could be a new trend, a cool site that we've seen, or just a topic. These are a few past ones:

  • Debate: Should designers lead companies?
  • Inspire: Bloomberg and brutalism
  • Debate: Where does design end?

3) In this industry, done doesn't exist

Whatever you’re working on will never be complete. Business goals, the market, user needs, whatever, something will change. And with that, so will your design. So don’t worry that you didn’t get to try another 5 shades of blue on that call to action. Ship it. review it, and improve it later. Iterate in production.

4) Process is everything

No matter how many times on your CV it says ‘team-player’, working in a team is hard. Whether it being managing expectations or working within someone else’s timeframe, actually getting shit built can sometimes be a slog.

So take the time to work out how you can streamline your process. And this doesn’t just mean your design process, but your entire work process. How are you getting feedback? How are your tasks prioritised? What does your code review look like?

Our process if far from refined. In fact we deviate from it on pretty much every project that we work on.