Product design is a process that requires deep creative work. But with endless feedback loops and office distractions, how do you safeguard your creative process while staying productive?
We sat down with two awesome product designers, Kelvin Tow, Product Designer at Pinterest, former UX Designer at LinkedIn and Jordan Kanarek, UX + Product Consultant extraordinaire, to find out. Here are their top tips for doing less meetings, and more design.
Gather Real World Insights
Product design always starts with landscape research, but most of the magic starts to happen once you get past that and start drawing inspiration from the real world outside. For a truly innovative approach, take your inspiration from a tangible idea or metaphor. For example, visiting a small boutique shop to get inspiration for an e-commerce app. It's these real world insights that help you build products people can relate to on a deeper level.
Go for Early Buy-In
Getting internal stakeholders to sign off on the big picture is no easy task. You need to take all your BIG ideas and boil them down in a way that makes sense to a diverse group of decision-makers. Forget the grand reveal and focus on nailing down the big conceptual decisions earlier in the process. You may have to do more presenting at the start of the process to make sure everyone's aligned on the concept, but in the long run it's way easier to handle the details when everyone's on the same page from day one.
Accelerate the Feedback Loop
Resist the urge to present all the the elements at once—people have a tendency to get hung up on the details more than you want them to, which can cause a ton of delays. Go ahead and inspire them with your awesome ideas, just make sure to throw in some caveats such as, "It's not totally thought through yet, but here's the idea so far." Let teams know there will be a follow up meeting to cover the next steps.
Kelvin uses a presentation template that clearly state the 2-3 main points he wants feedback on. For example, he'll say, "I'm looking at X. Don't look at the visuals for now." Jordan even sketches or takes notes on top of the design right there in front of the team so they can see that even though it's being presented, it's not final.
Getting that early buy-in earlier has a way of making everything else come more naturally, but there will still be plenty of meeting requests to dodge or minimize. Jordan uses CloudApp to share screen captures and animations of big progress updates. His teams can then share it with whoever needs to see it, which cuts out a lot of the back and forth involved with waiting for certain people to come back from vacation, etc. He also uses Notability to share updates that are tidier than a sketch, but not as complex and time-consuming as a wireframe.
Documentation is also big. Kelvin recommends keeping a simple document in a shared location (he uses Dropbox) to make it easier for PMs and engineers to find all your mocks, strategies, etc. in one central place, instead of having to chase you for it.
How do you escape the dreaded 'meetings about meetings'? Drop us a product design productivity tip in the comments below!