Designing the Future: Reflections on Two Years as a Product Designer
Hey everyone! I'm Hari, a product designer at Fyle.
Embarking on my design journey, I recently marked the significant milestone of completing two years as a product designer.
Over the past two years at Fyle, a fintech startup, I've gained invaluable insights into the nuances of product design by working on different aspects of the product. This involves delving into crucial modules such as credit card space, integrations, and app settings for different personas like spender (end-user) and admin by covering various platforms like web app, mobile, and extensions.
Working here offers a unique lens into the world of design within the context of a rapidly growing SaaS startup.
Reflecting on the challenges, victories, and invaluable lessons from these two years, I'm excited to share my learnings and knowledge in the design space.
Whether you're aspiring to explore product design or simply curious about the experiences of fellow designers, join me in this reflective journey.
Here, I aim to provide insights and tips acquired along the way, with the hope that you can resonate with and benefit from them as fellow design enthusiasts.
Enjoy the ride!
Here are some learnings that have helped me grow as a product designer for the past 2 years,
The Power of an Open and Iterative Mindset
This has been a game-changer in my career. It's about acknowledging that the design process is fluid and ever-evolving. I've learned to welcome feedback, iterate on designs, and view challenges as opportunities for improvement.
This mindset not only enhances collaboration but also fuels continuous innovation, enabling me to adapt and refine designs based on evolving needs and insights.
The power lies in the flexibility to iterate, learn, and grow throughout the design journey.
Use Your Fresh Eye to Question
This skill has been one of the valuable tools in my design toolkit. It reminds me of the importance of staying curious and leveraging the unique viewpoint that a fresh set of eyes can bring to the design process.
By stepping back and re-evaluating, I've discovered that questioning more with a curious and critical eye will lead to simple, innovative and user-centric solutions.
Have a Good Knowledge of the Product:
Cultivating a deep understanding of the product has proven instrumental in my growth as a product designer.
Creating a great product involves more than just understanding users. It's to find a balance between users, technology, and business. Before focusing on users, it's crucial to grasp the business side of things. In product, we work at the intersection of users, technology, and business.
User experience is influenced not only by users but also by how the product fits into the business and technology landscape. All stakeholders need to be on the same page, and understanding business and technology is as vital as empathy for users
Building Bridges with Other Teams:
Collaboration extends beyond design boundaries, involving seamless communication and understanding with developers, product managers, and other teams.
Understanding their perspectives, challenges, and constraints enriches the design process, leading to more holistic and effective solutions. Aligning goals and maintaining open communication channels across teams has not only improved the overall workflow but has also led to more innovative and successful product outcomes.
This learning underscores the importance of teamwork and highlights how collective efforts contribute to the overall success of a product.
Balancing Creativity and Functionality in UX Design
Finding the delicate balance between creativity and functionality in UX design has been crucial in Fyle. It's about injecting creativity into the user experience while ensuring that it aligns seamlessly with the product's functional aspects.
For example, creatively designing an intuitive and visually appealing interface, clear icons, and a user-friendly layout enhances the overall look and feel.
On the functional side, ensuring that users can effortlessly input and categorize expenses, attach receipts, and submit claims efficiently is equally important.
Striking the right balance involves innovative features for convenience while maintaining a straightforward process to ensure users can easily manage their expenses without unnecessary complications.
The lesson here is that a fine blend of creativity and functionality is key to creating designs that not only look good but also deliver a superior user experience.
It emphasises the importance of thoughtful design decisions that consider both the aesthetic and practical aspects of the user journey.
Opportunity to Speak and Express Your Thoughts
Working in Fyle, one valuable lesson is the importance of seizing opportunities to speak and express thoughts.
It's not just about creating designs; it's equally crucial to articulate ideas, share perspectives, and actively contribute to discussions.
At Fyle, we collaborate with almost every other team. In this setup, there's no strict hierarchy, and individuals from different teams can freely share their thoughts and contribute ideas for the overall growth of the product. I often collaborate with stakeholders and managers from other teams, including our founders. It's a place where all ideas are welcomed, and we can freely ask questions or share thoughts without any hesitation.
This learning emphasizes that as a product designer, the ability to effectively express thoughts and contribute to discussions is a powerful tool for influencing and shaping the design process, fostering a more inclusive and dynamic work environment.
Honest Feedback is a Big Part of the Work Ethic
Embracing constructive criticism has been crucial for improving my designs and personal growth. It's not just about getting praise; actively seeking and appreciating honest feedback is key.
This approach highlights the significance of a feedback-driven mindset, where open communication and a willingness to learn from critiques, contribute to continuous improvement.
It's a reminder that honest feedback is not only integral to the design process but also a cornerstone of a strong work ethic, fostering a culture of transparency and growth. Learning to accept others’ viewpoints and building on top of them became my greatest asset.
When providing feedback, I focus on being specific and using clear examples to make my points easy to understand and act upon. Also, balancing positive feedback with constructive suggestions creates a supportive vibe and receptive atmosphere. Additionally, I make it a point to be solution-oriented, suggesting possible ways to address challenges. This helps me to be invested in helping the person grow.
On the receiving end, I maintain an open mind, actively listening to understand perspectives fully. Regularly seeking feedback and asking clarifying questions contribute to continuous improvement. Always be thankful for feedback, whether it's positive or constructive as it helps to foster open communication.
Don’t Fall in Love with Your Designs
This mindset shift has allowed me to be more flexible and objective, ultimately leading to better outcomes.
The key takeaway is that design is a collaborative process, and letting go of personal attachments to designs enables growth and improvement.
When I started separating my designs from myself, that is when I grew as a designer. The quality of your design outputs correlates with your ability to abandon a design, understand what’s wrong, and start over.
Always Reflect on Yourself
One of the valuable lessons is to always take the time to reflect on myself. Regular self-reflection has helped me understand my strengths, areas for improvement, and how I can evolve as a designer and as a person.
At Fyle, we have a special week for self-reflection every three months. During this time, everyone writes about how their projects went, what they did to help, and more. We also get feedback from our managers on our reflections. It's like a personal check-in to see how we're doing and how we can improve.
This practice is a compass for personal and professional growth, guiding me in refining my skills, adapting to challenges, and continually enhancing my contribution.
The takeaway is that ongoing self-reflection is a powerful tool for becoming a more effective and insightful product designer. Also, every quarter everyone from Fyle set aside time for self-reflection for the work
Fostering Team Harmony
Guiding juniors and collaborating with the design team has been a rich learning experience. Guiding newer team members not only aids their growth but also deepens my understanding of design concepts. Collaborating within the design team enhances creativity and brings diverse perspectives to the table.
This dual experience of mentoring and collaborating emphasizes the importance of teamwork, communication, and the benefits of sharing knowledge within the team.
We follow a weekly stand-up call where our team members share their current initiatives, discuss progress, and address any roadblocks. It’s a valuable ritual that enhances communication and fosters a sense of unity as we work towards our collective goals.
We also gather for fun during our Designers’ Lounge calls, where we chat, play games, and enjoy random conversations. It’s a break from our work to relax and bond as a team, adding a touch of joy to our routine.
My two-year journey as a product designer has been an insightful expedition filled with challenges, victories, and invaluable lessons.
Reflecting on this period, I've shared key learnings that have shaped my growth as a product designer.
From embracing an open and iterative mindset to navigating the delicate balance between creativity and functionality, each lesson has contributed to a holistic understanding of the design process.
In essence, this journey underscores that successful product design goes beyond individual talent—it's a collaborative effort fueled by a willingness to learn, adapt, and grow.
Cheers to continuous learning, innovation, and the exciting challenges that lie ahead in the world of design. 💪✨