I'm a firm believer in sharing knowledge and allowing others to learn from our mistakes - and successes. We will advance very slowly if we just let everyone keep trying the same things over and over again.
We should focus on elevating the playing field and opening doors to new generations of designers by being transparent about what we've learned.
There's way too much out there about how to use tools, how to create color palettes, and how to create a pixel-perfect icon. The truth is - techniques are fairly easy to learn.
The focus on creative education should be on how to foster collaboration, encourage wild ideas, and how to clearly measure outcomes.
I analyzed over 15,000 lines of feedback from students and mentors talking about the platform, learning gaps, typos, mistakes, and what things worked better or worse for them.
There are many online bootcamps out there nowadays, and many courses. I analyzed what the market current offers, and how Designlab can differentiate itself from others by providing a better experience to students and mentors.
High Level Strategy
Based on the research conducted, I provided a set of recommendations into how the platform could evolve to better suit the customers' needs. This included product updates, new content types, a new writing strategy (style and depth of the content), and a new scaffolded instructional design.
Detailed Course Outlines
Designlab is a small company, so even though I didn't write content myself, I did provide with detailed outlines and briefs to the writers I worked with. This outlines consisted on both a break down of units, learning goals, and specific details for each content type and content piece.
Operations and Metrics
Metrics are essential to understand whether the solutions provided are working or not. I implemented a metrics system for both Curriculum and Mentorship, links to the NPS, and specific team metrics to evaluate performance.
Although not the part that I enjoy the most, I put a Project Manager hat on to get projects done. This included setting up new processes, launching new product initiatives and, of course, execute on content updates and creation.
Scalable Performance Management
On a growing company, scalable processes are a must. With a growing network of 400 mentors, having insights on who was performing really well and who needed coaching was extremely important. I set up a scalable performance management process that started being manual, but had a roadmap to become automated in the near future to better serve the company's growth.
Scalability, metrics, and processes are necessary. But human contact is, too. I put an emphasis on providing space for mentors to meet and learn from each other. I also made sure they were better included on updates of courses and the product, as well as better supported on student operations.
What is the right team structure?
Every organization and team is different. The needs of an agency are not the same as those of a startup, and they are very different from those of a corporation. The way teams interact with others, the company culture, and the type of design determines how a team should be, and how it should work.
How do we hire the best talent?
There are many design wannabes out there: those who can talk really well about design, but not really able to walk the talk. A solid, thorough, and clear hiring process is absolutely necessary to bring the right talent onboard.
Metrics for designers? Is there such a thing?
There is! Metrics for designers are not as straight-forward as they are for other roles that are more number-driven. They should be tied to your product or services goals, to scalability efforts, and to personal goals.
What can we do to keep designers motivated?
The first step is to not treat designers as production artists. Are you giving them space to create? Or are you just asking them to get something done? Do they have time to research and test? On top of all that: do your designers know how a career path looks like? Do they know what lateral skills they could acquire to be of best benefit to the company? Without a clear direction, designers - and any creative employee - tend to lose motivation quickly.
I don't think design is scalable, is it?Most people think that design is as scalable as the designer. This is simply not true. Non-scalable design happens when there's no clear direction or principles to guide the design. It happens when we focus in deliverables only.
A Design System is a great start, but it needs to be complemented with strong processes and tools that can help multiple designers stay in sync and deliver creative, yet consistent, solutions.
Isn't a Design System just a style guide?
Nooo! A Design System is much more than your usual style guide. A Design System defines principles, not just pieces of UI. It's as much about direction and consistency as it is about design execution. It's about keeping the team aligned, but ensuring creative freedom too. Not easy, but oh, so worth it.