There is something with the designer role that makes it one of the toughest roles in the business; and that is rooted in the core definition of being a designer, which is to create things from scratch. A designer deals with a good deal of uncertainty and needs to make decisions that directly influence the direction of the business. I see a designer much as a mother who gives birth to her child and helps them walk through life.
Not long ago I joined a team to work on an ambitious product. We aimed to leverage iBeacon technology to revolutionize hotel industry. Although the start was promising, it went downhill quickly and I left the team.
I have been designing digital products for about four years now. I started working on a friend’s master thesis project. After I did freelancing for a while. Then I started working as a unicorn designer in the startup scene.
First I got contacted to join the team was in the middle of January. After two-rounds of talks within a week, I agreed to join. It happens too fast too quickly but it felt good.
Right after I joined, we had to prepare for an event due in a month. I was involved in four different battlefields: brand identity, print, iOS and web apps. The results were not satisfying. The concepts were not baked enough. The execution could be better. Everything felt half-way. After the event, I had a talk with my founders and they weren’t happy with the direction. We had a long discussion and at the end we decided to stop working together.
All of this came to me as a shocking yet worthy experience. And I would like to share some of it with you.
A startup team is a small familly.
One of the main reasons that I like startups is the sense of family. You join a small team and work days and nights to achieve a goal. Like members of a family, the team supports each other up moving forward.
Although the amount of works considering the time was unjustifiable, I agreed to do them because I thought we were a team and we would back each other up. It wasn’t the case.
Be mindful when things happening too quickly.
It’s been renowned that the desirable form of love is the love at a first sight. What I started to believe more and more is what I call the gradual love, the one that starts slowly and then becomes serious along the way.
Although this should be the case, sometimes you have to take your chances. Because after all, we live in an uncertain world and one cannot say no to an opportunity because it is too good to be true or happening too fast.
What I would have done differently in my case is to put more time at the beginning and make sure that both sides are on the same page regarding product development process, teamwork, and shared responsibilities.
Product development is not a blame game.
Nothing comes out perfect from the first iteration. Perfection demands frequent iteration, commitment to solving a problem and patience. Perfection demands dealing with insecurity and uncertainty that comes along the way. Everybody in the team should be on-board with that because the time will come that no good news comes from the other side of the window: feedbacks are not good and results can be better. The easiest thing to do is to play the blame game. The right thing would be to stand with each other and move forward knowing that we are on a great mission reaching a meaningful goal.
Build a solid MVP first then get out of the doors.
One thing that I could have done better is to say no more often. One thing I would have said no is the direction that was chosen. We head out of the door at the beginning before figuring out what we want to do with our product. Getting out of the doors too quickly would cause stress and anxiety. You receive many ideas for the direction of the product before figuring it out first within your team. As the product designer, I should have stood up to this but I didn’t.
A failed experience is like a wound in one’s soul. It heals slowly but it helps you to grow. I Hope there was something for you among these words. Please let me know what you think; I am interested to hear your opinion. I’m reachable via Twitter or Email.