Not saying it for the sake of saying, but it truly feels like yesterday.
I still remember the sheer nervousness when I first started designing professionally and coming to this day when I have completed one year as a product designer, all I can say is it has been one hell of a ride.
Going to almost 7 cities in the first six months for user research and on top of that, the sheer scale of the product is something worth cherishing for.
And for that, a heartfelt thanks to Udaan for giving me the first break in the design industry.
Moving ahead, the main agenda of this whole piece is to share and document my key learnings in the first year.
Let’s get started:
• The one great skill to acquire as a designer
No, it’s not one of those fancy design terms.
You ask me, what’s that one thing you would trade all your money for as a designer, I would say, “ Ability to deal with ambiguity ”
I remember, once I had interviewed Karthi Subbaraman, & she told me that “A Designer is someone who provides clarity in chaos” and now it makes so much sense to me.
I still have no sure shot answer to how we can inculcate this kind of thinking but maybe “First Principles” is the answer to that. Again, it’s easier said than done.
Another thing that I have seen that helps is to ask questions which helps you define the objective or the answers you are seeking for.
• Over communication is always better than no communication
When working with a cross functional team, you should always keep everyone on the same page, even if that means that you have to over communicate things.
Also, one thing that certainly helps is the ability to communicate your things in clear and crisp manner.
Avoiding talking abstract will make no difference and overcomplicate things.
This helps a lot in meetings, here are a few things that have helped me.
- When someone is talking in a very abstract manner, rearticulate what they are trying to say in a question form. This helps establish and reconfirm the point the other person is trying to make.
- After the meeting, share the main points or conclusion in a common forum so as to reassure that your understanding is spot on.
• Business is the highest form of design
I borrowed this hack from a colleague of mine. So, whenever a new problem comes, after having an initial round of discussion, I jot down what are the business goals as well as user goals that need to be achieved.
Because as a designer, you have the responsibility to cater to both of these spectrums.
• Document them all
I have a thing for writing & the reason which I tell to everybody is that it gives clarity.
Let me tell you how?
Whenever you write your thoughts down, your mind processes those thoughts and something tangible comes up.
Your thoughts take a definite shape and gives you clarity on the matter at hand.
& This has proved to be one of my biggest strengths in the one year tenure as a product designer.
I recently had a chance to have a one on one session with @Hardik Pandya from Google and he also said the same thing. Always have your note keeping app open.
• Side Projects
So far, I have worked on two side projects, one of them is called “alldesignevents.co” & another one was a really fun Figma Plugin called “Imagif”.
& the learning that I had while building these things is that they tell you the nuances of scaling a product because you gotta do it all. Design, Development & Marketing.
• You can design everything
This is more on a philosophical note but I had this realisation that design is everywhere and you can design everything like your career, the way you live your life.
I may be wrong but that’s what my current understanding is.
And now here I will talk about stuff that I feel I still lag:
- UI design is something that I need to get better at. Form is also a function and you can’t make an excuse for that.
- Better time management.
- Planning around sharing design content because they say, if you can teach in simple terms, you know the subject well.
& most importantly here are few mentions for those who helped me in my quest.
- Ashish for being there in the Initial phase.
- Sankalp for being an amazing mentor.
- Aishwarya, Sunny, Puja, Shylendar & Selvin for being an amazing team.
- Abhishek for being the guiding light.
- Shubham, Mridul & Family for being there to Listen.
- Special mentions, Deep, ABNUX & Arun for teaching me new lessons.
Sorry if I missed someone.
In case, if you have any thoughts, here are my social handles.