Don’t Miss the Point, It Is About People

A short (and personal) guide to becoming a better product designer.

Who the hell am I to tell you anything about being a good product designer? I am not a personal trainer, a Human Resources specialist, a Guru or any type of Evangelist. I just try to do my best in every sphere of my work, enjoy every process and learn as much as I can on the journey. A big part of my work is about building better experiences and enriching the relationship between a product and the people who use it, and with this article I just want to share something that I have learnt during my career, something I believe, it is very healthy to remember every day:

“I don’t want to be a High-Performing product designer, I want to be a good one.”

Get the job done

Know your product, know your users, know the competitors, ask many questions in order to answer them, learn to read and to analyse data, monitor everything, identify possible pain points and opportunities. Be aware of the resources you count with, stay sharp and up to date with new tools, methodologies, tech trends, the geopolitical situation. Be clear about the goals, objectives, deadlines and changes in the market that could affect the product, try new apps, be active in Social Media, read as many books and articles as you can, write some of them, collaborate with Product Managers and Developers,…

The list of things that you can do to be a high-performing Product Designer could go on and go on, and it is true that you, as a professional need to know all of these things (among others), as long and complex as this list could seem, these are things that you naturally enjoy and you can make part of your day when you truly love your profession and your product. This is good, and it is important, you must know how to get the job done, but don’t miss the point.

Be a good person

If there is something I find valuable in any professional’s profile is his interpersonal skills. You don’t need to master them, but you definitely need to count with them at least on a very basic level. I like to work with people with big ideas and small egos, who look at you when you talk to them and who are able to smile, give you some communication input or at least blink.

“I like to work with people with big ideas and small egos”

You might know everything about the numbers, the nature and details of your product but you will never be a good product designer if you don’t take people into consideration. At the end of the day, you are working with people to build a product for people. If you are missing this relevant point, you might still be a high-performing designer, but never a good one.

At the end of the day, you are working with people to build a product for people. If you are missing this relevant point, you might still be a high-performing designer, but never a good one.

How can you do this?

If your team is looking for new faces, give this point more weight during a hiring process, you need to create a healthy team with people who get the job done but at the same time, who have fun working and are willing to learn from others. It might take weeks to learn how to read and analyse certain data or a new tool, but it could take a life for some people to learn about empathy, humility and to become a productive team player. Give little importance to this point or ignore it at all and you might end up dismissing good candidates, and what is worse, hiring the wrong people. In long terms, what you can get with a team of only high-performing profiles is a battle of egos which leads to wrong decision making and to a mediocre product.

“Create a healthy team with people who get the job done but at the same time, who have fun working..”

Know your team, you don’t need to become a close friend with everyone, but know about them, and let them know about you. What are their hobbies, musical preferences, sports they practice, what they find interesting, etc. Learn about their personal stories and cultural background. You might surprise yourself finding out that Aron, the serious Polish developer is taking Swing classes every day after work, or that Mary, the product manager, plays the ukulele and is a really good surfer. To sum up, build relationships with people, not with their job titles. This is not only something to be done for the sake of your social life, but for the sake of your team, and your product.

In conclusion, keep working hard, enjoy what you do, but please, don’t miss the point. Be a good person, be a good designer.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” – Michael Jordan

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This article was originally published on Carlos’s Medium Page.

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Product designer | Illustrator | Traveller in love with the mountains and the sea | Ukulele player | Photographer | Avid reader | Say hi on Twitter.

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