By Caleb Freeman on hotpaperlantern.com, August 25, 2018.
I love a good podcast, and DesignBetter.co is one of the best out there. Put on by the genius folks at InVision, DesignBetter.co is (surprise!) all about interviewing leaders in the design field.
Even so, I’ve found that each episode is packed with wisdom I can take back to any of my colleagues – which I do. In fact, after listening to the recent episode featuring Margaret Stewart, VP of Product Design at Facebook, I felt so inspired that I typed up a long email recap for my team.
Here’s what I told them.
Always remember the “why” behind numbers.
Data is like a gateway drug. It opens so many opportunities for content creation, design work, and product development, but it’s really only half the equation. Combining quantitative measurements with qualitative research and observations transforms data into insight. It’s the qualitative work we do that brings out the “why” behind the “what, how, where, how much, how long, etc.” our data is tracking.
Data is also a luxury. Marketers are under a tremendous amount of pressure to provide hard data that proves ROI, but guess what? That isn’t always possible. Does that mean we halt all efforts with only qualitative proof points? If we did, we’d miss out on a lot of value.
Create experiences for actual people.
It’s easy to get in “production mode” and lose sight of the audience. Yes, it’s our job as design professionals to make experiences cool enough to pay attention to, but we have to remember who they’re for. We aren’t producing experiences for ourselves, we’re creating them for our users/customers/clients.
With that in mind, we constantly need to remind ourselves of the population, audience segments, and niche targets who use the experiences we create. As you perform your daily tasks, a simple yet powerful tip is to think about the end user and the value each person would find in what you are creating. Performing little mental exercises like this will help you create empathetic content and creative concepts that connect with your audience(s).
Build the foundation of success by telling a story.
A story should be at the heart of every dialogue, whether you’re pitching a new idea to your team or a prospective client, designing an interface, or writing a blog.
Human beings crave the cognitive and emotional responses that stories give us. Just as books and movies flow through an expected cadence of setting the stage, building character profiles, illustrating the conflict, growing the energy to a climatic pivot and providing a brief but paced resolution – this flow is critical in communicating with intention and conviction. As the communicator, this flow also helps you invoke passion and confidence into your delivery, further solidifying the validity and strength of your ideas.
Adopt a mission and value-based orientation.
Being mission-oriented drives focus, and in turn, success. Our mission is the connective tissue that weaves together everything we do. Leveraging the words of our mission statement in meetings shows a defining strength and understanding of our collective intention and attention toward our future. Margaret suggests asking directly, “how does what we are doing help facilitate (our) mission?”
It would be best if you had the same conversation about your values. At HPL, we value being bold, fearless, collaborative, respectful, and passionate. To stay true to ourselves and our clients, we constantly need to check in on how these values are represented in our day-to-day.
Look for inspiration and learning everywhere you go.
When we think of developing as professionals, we tend to focus on hard skills – technology, process, best practices, rules, norms, etc. that support our daily outputs. In fact, your professional evolution relies on building soft skills. Who you are around your technical capabilities – namely, how you interact and communicate with others – will determine if and how you grow into a leader.
You can work on your soft skills all the time, in everything you do. A great way to challenge yourself is to get out of your comfort zone. Margaret talks about how Facebook offers woodworking classes so that people who only deal with non-physical, digital products can see the effects of creating something “real.” She explains that there is power and inspiration in creating something real with your hands and that this process brings people together and triggers new ideas.
I loved this tip in particular because it emphasizes something I have long believed. If you work with a team, it’s important to grow as a team. Success comes to teams who not only work together but genuinely enjoy being around one another and show interest in each other’s lives outside of work.
Lots of good stuff, right? I didn’t get into the design intel, but if you’re interested in those tips, you can stream the episode on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher, or directly from the DesignBetter.co website.