Design team

Design Brief Example: How It Should Look Like and What It Should Contain


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Usually, to find such common ground, design agencies ask a client to write down the requirements for the project. This document is called a design brief.

At Eleken we used to follow this model, so we know quite a lot about it. In this article, we will explain what brief is and how to write a design brief with examples and templates that you can use. We will also answer the question “Is it possible to work without a design brief?” Spoiler: yes!

But first, let's define the concept and see what to include in your project design brief.

What is a design brief and why do you need it?

Generally speaking, a brief is a document with a list of questions regarding the implementation of a specific task. In design, this document is a set of requirements that helps designers to understand what the client wants and also helps to define the direction of design.

Usually, a good design brief increases the certainty that a result will be fully satisfying as it reduces the risk of misunderstandings between the client and the design team. The design brief sets the direction for future design and is a base for designers to start work.

A design brief is an input from the client as it should reflect their vision and expectations for the project. But we shouldn’t forget that creating a brief is, first of all, the teamwork of the designer and the customer. You don’t need to worry about forgetting to mention some important information in your brief. If the designer you've chosen is a professional they will never leave you alone with this task.

How do you write a design brief?

We have put together a list of questions typical for a design brief that will help you understand the concept and prepare for hiring a UI/UX designer. When you answer them, you can assume that 90% of the brief is done! The remaining 10 percent you will gain when discussing it with your designer. Ready? Let's start! 

  1. What does your company do?

    Even if it seems clear, it’s best to not assume that the designer already knows everything about your company. The deeper the designer understands your business, the more opportunities for creativity he or she has.

    Write clearly and concisely:

    - What your organization does?
    - What background your company has?
    - What are your goals?

    Let designers deeply understand your big goals by sharing your product vision or mission. 

  2. What tasks should the design solve? Describe the deliverables.

    This is probably the most crucial question to ask yourself when ordering design from an agency. Explain what you are trying to communicate with the help of design and why. Clearly state the scope of the project and desired outcome and objective deliverables that you expect, and describe what pain points your product solves for users and how design can help in this regard.

  3. What is your target audience?

    When writing about your target audience don't forget to mention the age of your users, their education, occupation, income, etc. Explain to the designer who these people are, what issues they want to solve, how they are expected to interact with your product.

  4. Who are the competitors and what differentiates your product from them?

    Knowing the main competitors and the unique value proposition of your product is also very useful. The design should reflect the unique advantages of the brand in order to stand out among rivals.

  5. What copy and images will this project include?

    The text and images used in the project are important parts of the design. It doesn’t mean you have to have all materials before starting the design process. However, it’s worth drafting a plan for visuals and text so that designer can correlate their work with your direction. 

  6. Do you have references?

    Find some examples/references to the good design or style you like and would want to have for your solution. If you are already on the market, share existing brand visuals like corporate colors, fonts or images that will help the design team to get a feel of your product and analyze it more carefully.

    Show examples that you think would suit the most, even if it is the design of your main competitors. By doing so, you set the bar for your expectations.

    Show the designer what you DO NOT like. This will give them a general idea of your tastes and preferences and prevent you from getting frustrated with their work.

  7. What are the timeline and budget?

    Determine your budget in advance. This way a designer will be able to optimize the time and resources spent. Determining the budget also allows the designer to decide whether they want to perform this task.

    Give the designer a timeline and set a realistic final deadline. You have to take into account the different stages of the design work such as consultation, concept development, execution, production, and delivery.

    Sometimes it is simply necessary to complete the work in a short time. In such cases, just honestly inform the designer in advance.

It is necessary to discuss all the above questions with the designer before you start working. You may think that some of them are trivial and the answers are obvious. Still, the quality of the design depends on the knowledge of all these details.

Now as we know what information is important and why it's time to look at some design brief templates.

Design brief examples and templates

The above questions are fundamental, but they don't always look exactly like this. The following templates contain the main points you should discuss with your designer before starting the design process. Based on them you can outline the questions in your design brief.

Let’s check out some design brief examples.

Design brief template above is quite detailed, all questions are divided into blocks and spelled out in detail which makes it clear and very convenient to fill.

Image source: Spigot design

This creative design brief example is well-structured and sets clear business goals for design and, at the same time, is very laconic. Works well for website design requests. 

When it comes to app design, a brief template has to be more specific in terms of UX requirements and include some relevant references.

A basic product design brief exampleImage source: Ossmium

The simple template above gathers information about the company and problem to solve, the client’s product, budget and timeline, and desired deliverables. It is a good design brief example that can be a great start. However, let’s not forget that designing products is a complex and sometimes long-lasting process.

Product design challenges classic design brief

Clear goals and requirements definitely help in the design process. Designers always appreciate it when clients share a brief that can become a North Star in the design process. However, there are some problems that can occur with design briefs.

For example, young startups might not have a product manager in the team, so writing a design brief often falls on the founder’s shoulders. For them, writing and submitting effective design requirements can be a very complex task, as founders might not have the right expertise for it. Even though that’s absolutely fine, designers might wait for ages to get the desired brief. 

Another common case is that discussion with the design team often inspires the product owner and changes perspective regarding the initial design requirements. Then clients' ideas about the desired format and concept of the product may change in the process, too. In that case, there’s a need to update a brief and the you may feel your time was wasted on writing the brief.

To write a good design brief you need to collect and structure a big volume of information on the product in one short document. Without prior experience of creating a design brief can be difficult. This is especially true for product design.

Brief is the most effective when you want to order a design project (landing page, website redesign) from a design agency. However, when you are building a product from scratch, a short brief is just not enough to cover all requirements for a new product design.

Do you really need to prepare a design brief to start working with a designer?

Eleken is a UI/UX design agency. And considering all mentioned above, we do not insist on a design brief.

To save our clients` time and offer a more flexible quick call format. Our Head of Design, Maks, who has years of experience in product design, has a meeting with a client. We call it a kick-off meeting. During the call, the client shares their vision for the product, goals and objectives, ideas about design, details about the existing stage, and desired outcome. Maks has a trained ear so he listens carefully and picks up the most important details that he professionally translates into design requirements for our team. We fully trust Maks, and so should you, because he’s a real pro.

,Sometimes the clients come with references and ideas, other times we suggest how the product can be designed. In Eleken we are big adepts of the idea that good products are not created in a vacuum blindly following requirements. Great products are the result of ongoing team collaboration. And we have a whole bunch of them in our portfolio.

You have a product to design and want to see us in action? Book a call to get in touch with our team.

Have you ever ordered a design project? If yes, then you probably know that the successful execution depends on mutual understanding between the designer and the customer.

Mariia Kasym


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Design team
min read

How to Implement Product Design OKRs for Your Team [With Examples]

Managing design work has never been easy. Managers speak the language of metrics and deadlines, while designers speak the language of… well, design. Therefore, creative tasks are harder to fit in classical systems of project management.

Establishing clear indicators for design team is not as clear as it is for sales team, for instance. However, it doesn’t mean that the OKR system doesn’t work for them. 

As a UI/UX design agency, we can say that creative team needs a special approach. Defining clear metrics for design efficiency measurement is of personal interest for us. It’s evident that some management methods that work for developers will not work well for designers. However, few methods have proven to be quite universal and thus can be successfully applied to different team within the company. One of them is OKRs (Objectives and Key Results).

product design okrs

This system works for both big companies and small startups. As it is quite simple, there is little barrier to trying it. To make things easier for you, we made this guide on implementing OKRs in product design, including some design OKR examples.

So, what is OKR?

It seems like a pretty basic formula, but to get why it became so paramount, you have to understand how revolutionary it was in the 70s. It was defying the centuries-long tradition of the hierarchical system of goal setting.

I will (Objective) As measured by (KeyResults 1_2_3)

In the OKR framework, it is not the top manager who decides what everybody else does and what the objectives and KPIs are. All team members are involved in the process of setting OKRs. Such an approach enables one to avoid a single-perspective view of the objectives.

MBO system: Top-down, Annual, Linked to compensation. OKR system: horizontal, quarterly, not linked to compensation

The system of OKRs was invented in the 70s by Andy Grove, the CEO of Intel. John Doerr, who used to work with Grove, became a true evangelist of OKRs and spread the wisdom all over the world. Since then, lots of top companies, including Google and Spotify, use the system.

John Doerr is such a fan of OKRs that he applied them even to his family life, trying to get home by 6 PM 20 nights a month to have dinner with the family (key results) in order to have a happy family (objective).

What's more, in 2018, he wrote a whole book about OKRs management methodology called "Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs", which received positive reviews from Bill Gates, Sheryl Sandberg, and Larry Page. You can read our article for a fast grasp and then decide whether you would like to go deeper with the book.

Where to start?

As John Doerr says, the OKRs should start with WHY. Why are you doing what you are doing? What is the main purpose of the company? Until you understand that purpose you can hardly create real objectives.

After that, define objectives. Objectives should be aligned with the purpose, but also be more specific and focused on current events. There are three tips that can help you with that.

Make objectives simple and clear

The objective of OKR should be short and easy to remember. Leave the SMART goals system aside, as OKRs can be a bit abstract and idealistic. Just pick something that speaks to you, without formalities. If it is "provide damn good user experience", it's fine.

Be ambitious with goals

Making feasible goals is good, but managers of Google recommend that you make some of the OKRs a bit more ambitious. They call it moon shooting. Overall, the goals are not expected to be met at 100%. Most successful companies consider 70% a good result — remember that you’ll still land among the stars.

Don’t carve it in stone

Remember that objectives can be changed along the way if you realize that they don’t work well or that the situation has changed and they lost sense. OKRs methodology is made for the fast-changing modern business environment, so flexibility is a must.

Setting key results

Once the objective is set, it is time to move to key results. The results should be aligned with the objective and measurable. You can check our list of design metrics to give you an idea of how design results can be measured. However, before picking some of them to insert in OKRs, think of how you will collect the data.

Before setting key results, think of whether you can establish a system of measurement and track all of them. If you don't have any experience with design metrics, maybe your first OKR can be about establishing such a system?

Here are some tips on how to make a good set of key results:

  • Don’t make too many. Three to five is a good number. Having too many will disperse your focus.
  • Make them specific and measurable.
  • Make key results realistic (even if the objective is shooting the moon)

The question that you should ask when setting key results is:

What are the main things that have to happen in a given time period to make the objective come true?

Golden rules of OKRs

You know that when the idea looks simple, the devil is in the details. You can’t just copy-paste your existing goals and KPIs into the formula and make it work. OKRs are the system and there is a set of rules that make it so efficient.

Limit the number of OKRs

Once you get into OKRs, you may start setting a dozen of them to cover all the aspects of the product design process. However, having too many will play against you. One of the main jobs of OKRs is to make a clear focus on current priorities. Fifteen objectives can not be prioritized equally, so start slow and keep the focus on what is really important.

Don’t tie them to rewards

Unlike KPIs, OKRs should never define the size of compensation. If team members know that their salaries and bonuses depend on OKRs, they will end up setting less ambitious but more “secure” objectives and results. The system is there to help the employees, not to create additional pressure.

Set the right time period

Different companies set OKRs from one week to a year. There is no general rule, however, quarterly periods are probably the most common. Also, there can be different cycles of OKR in one company. Just make sure there are no ten different deadlines.

Separate tactic and strategic objectives

Strategic OKRs are set at the company level and typically have longer cycles. Tactic OKRs are set at the team level and can have shorter cycles. A good idea is to set these two in a way that they would coincide regularly: for example, 3-monthly and 2-monthly OKRs would meet every six months, while 4-month and 5-month would only meet once every two years.

Product design OKRs examples

Objective: Integrate UX research into standard work process

Key Results:

— Run a brainstorming session to define the most relevant UX research methods and metrics

— Have weekly team meetings on UX research to adjust the strategy

— Recruit ten users for testing

— Develop UX research strategy and plan for the following six months

Objective: Make users addicted to the product

Key results:

— user engagement score increased by 30%

— average session time increased by 20%

— churn rate decreased by 15%

Objective: Create a distinct visual style of the product

Key results:

— Develop 3 versions of visual style

— Run A/B testing to choose the best one

— Create stylebook

— Create a UI library

Tools for tracking OKRs

In the beginning, it is best to use something that you are familiar with. Just creating a new G-Suite sheet, a page in Notion, or adding a new poster to the pinboard can be a good start on the OKRs way.

If you feel that these options lack functionality or you prefer using different management software, there are some that are tailored to the OKRs framework.

One of them is Tability, a product that allows you to track OKRs regularly, get reminders, visualize the progress, add tasks, and communicate with your colleagues about objectives and results. Here is how OKRs look in Tability.

product design okrs Tability
Image credit: Tability

The alternative OKR tools are Koan, Weekdone, and Perdoo. Weekdone claims that it can replace weekly stand-ups as the app would document all the team progress.

product design okrs Weekdone
Image credit: Weekdone

Some planning software like Asana have a built-in feature that facilitates tracking OKRs and aligning them with smaller tasks. Check if your favorite work management tool offers a solution that streamlines OKRs tracking, and if they do, look no further.

product design okrs Asana
Image credit: Asana

If you are starting with OKRs and are looking for a free tool with guidelines, check this starter kit from "Measure What Matters" by John Doerr.

Final thoughts

Hopefully this article convinced you that OKRs are suitable for both design team and the company as a whole. Even when key results are hard to define, there are ways to establish effective goals. As a design agency, we know that UX design KPIs and usability metrics are real. Therefore, OKRs would work for design team as well as they do for sales, customer success, and others.

If you plan to introduce new methods like OKRs to increase your team’s efficiency, you might also find interesting our article How to Manage a Design Team: 5 Tips Based on True Stories.

Design team
min read

Managing a Design Team: Interview With Seasoned Design Leaders

The design team is an essential part of any organization's workforce, whether they are in-house employees or an external team. Mainly because their responsibility is to create new concepts or empower existing ones in order to accurately portray a certain product or the company's brand to the general audience.

But having been providing UI/UX design services, for more than seven years without any project manager on board gave us an understanding that admitting the importance of design and managing a design team is not the same and may cause many difficulties and insecurities (and yes, at Eleken we don’t have project managers on our side as we believe our clients and designers should talk to each other directly).

To help those who are about to lead a team of designers for the first time, we talked with experts in the design field who had solid experience in team management, and asked them the following four questions:

  • What do you think is the main responsibility of a design lead?
  • What do you find the most challenging about managing designers?
  • What can you advise those who’ve just started their way as design managers?
  • How does managing a design team compare to being a designer?

Further on, you’ll find tips and insights that will help you discover how to manage a fantastic design team and produce your finest work together.

Marian Fusek, Career & Leadership Coach, Leadership & Design Consultant

After working over 10 years in the design field, Marian took over leadership of the Design Team at STRV. Within two years, he got further promoted to lead the whole Design & Engineering department of 130 people and 13 team managers. Today, he’s a certified Life, Career & Leadership Coach, Leadership & Design Consultant and Design Mentor.

What do you think is the main responsibility of a design lead?

Leaders need to serve the people they lead. It all starts there. Just by mentioning design as a discipline, there may already be a sorting mechanism within ourselves, defining what that specific demographic is and what its needs are. But serving designers is not much different than serving any other profession. So, if the first thing you think about is pushing through that polished design process of yours - well, okay, but no!

For me, the main responsibility of a design lead is a simple understanding that there's a unique individual in every single designer, with their passion for the craft, their ways of learning, getting feedback, working in a team, with a client, and so on. Then it comes down to working, managing and leading them in sync with their ways.

Ask a lot of questions, be curious, create an environment full of energy, potential and mutual respect - the results will be there. Make sure the team is working together. You just have to give them freedom to try.

What do you find the most challenging about managing designers?

While this process can be a truly challenging matter by itself, the other thing that pops in my head is providing the type of design opportunities that make your team fulfilled as the days, months, years go by. The preferences of each individual differ, designers profile their services into specific niches. Saying that, can your company ensure a great project for every designer all the time to really keep them fully engaged?

There are many challenges the leader has to face just because we all constantly change and evolve. As long as you work with the resources you have, provide the best setup for your team, you are set for success. But don't be disappointed with a designer leaving your team every now and then because, simply put, you cannot satisfy everyone at every stage of their lives and careers.

What can you advise those who’ve just started their way as design managers?

Sit, lie down, or go for a walk and think of yourself when you were a regular designer. Ask yourself: if your leader really (and I mean really-really) knew you, how you work, what you love, what gets you going, what brings you energy, what really helps you at times of struggle - how would you work, how would you grow as a designer, how likely would you do something extra, make less mistakes, be excited about every Monday?

You now have people in your team that are just like you from the past. They represent your team every day, they represent you. Do you know them? And I mean, really really know them?

Get to know your team members, get to know yourself and find where the two parties vibe. Teams that vibe will have it easy when getting a product to the next level, staying sane through post-launch madness and covering your back in tough times (you should see my confidence writing this, hehe).

How does managing a design team compare to being a designer?

It goes back to categorizing designers and thinking we are all the same. But Tom is passionate about interactions, Maya about design systems, others about visuals, UX, typography...

I always knew I am a people person. Working with humans is easy for me, I vibe with it (wink). I've been asked many times whether I miss designing more, if I now keep losing track of the newest trends, and the like. Luckily for me, leadership is still design - the design of my team members’ best experience in my team. Designing the right education plan made just for Tom and designing the perfect project setup for Maya… the list goes on.

The purpose of design is to give answers. Make “it” easier for humans to engage with things and each other. So while Tom played with interaction design, I played with team design. Also, stay obsessed with providing the best conditions for your designers and they will share so much with you that you’ll never lose track of the craft or any trends, even if you wanted to.

Richard Strother, Technology and Clarity Coach

​​Richard is about three things: psychology, technology, and human connection. With extensive experience in design, production and technical side in the graphics and print industries, Richard has managed full projects and small teams for other companies as well as for his own agency. His focus has always centered on making information more clear and relatable.

What do you think is the main responsibility of a design lead?

Make sure that everybody is playing the same game. 

Any sport has positions. But why do we need them? Because everybody has got their strengths, and all of us are good at something. As a leader, you’re allowed to switch your team members around, and let them try other things, make mistakes, and develop new skills. This way leaders make sure everybody’s playing the right sport in the right position. And that’s the greatest purpose of a manager/leader: you have to be the one to bring everybody together on that one vision.

You should be like “I trust you guys to do the job, but if you need anything - let me know, and don’t be afraid to come to me. I don’t care if it’s just a joke you want to tell, or there’s some difficulty you face - I’m here for you!”

You know, there are people who are given the leadership title, but they are terrible at managing. On the contrary, there are people in teams (I call them sparks), who have no authority but everybody goes to them. Why? Because they are the leaders. They are the ones who have their fingers on the pulse and know everybody in a team. These people keep the right spirit, the team’s morale. If you happen to have both the title and the spark - oh, wow, your team is going to do some incredible things.

So, make sure everybody in the team is on the same page, working together rather than in silos. You, as a manager, don’t have to just split tasks. Your team members are all experts in what they do, and what you as a manager want to see at the outcome requires the skills they all have. The more they learn from each other, the more you get new ideas and innovations. And you don’t have to pay more for that, you just have to give them the freedom to try. 

What do you find the most challenging about managing designers?

Scheduling is tricky. 

Designers tend to be artistic folk, and designers tend to be big personalities, especially when we’re talking about timetables and scheduling. And that can get very tricky because, as a design manager, I need to know at what point in their work my team members are and I need my designers to keep me in the loop. I’m like “I have no problem if you are a day behind schedule, just tell me where you’re at, so I can move to the next stage”. And some of the designers are terrible at it. Absolutely terrible. They are just like students that wait until it’s the last minute before an exam. 

You need to make sure the designer you’re accountable for is good at communicating. You don’t want to chase your designer, right? You have to build this relationship on trust. You need your team to understand you’re not just a guy who gives them a contract, you’re in this together. It’s really about keeping in touch: “I’m not going to tell you how to do your job or check your every step, but don’t leave me in silence.”

Money can be tricky too. That’s why I need to be very clear about my expectations. I don’t pay for designers’ hours, I’m paying for a result, so I need it good and I need it on time. Am I willing to flex a little? Am I willing to adapt to the designer’s style? Yes. So, to resolve the money issue, you have to have a really good work agreement, with clear expectations. In that case, designers will understand what needs to be done, and you’ll understand what you’re paying for.

What can you advise those who’ve just started their way as design managers?

  1. Make sure that you’re organized, well-centered and know your role. You should know what your designers have to do and should be always focused on the outcome. Our entrepreneurs have a terrible habit of “I have to do everything myself”, while the best skill the design lead has to get good at to survive and thrive is delegating. They have to learn to say “I can do that, but out of the six tasks I have here, there are two that only I can do, because it requires the information that only I know, and so on.”

Imagine an office where one person tries to be a receptionist, a boss, and a worker. It doesn’t work. You hire the receptionist because they can take the phone calls, and filter them down to the messages the worker has to deal with. The worker, from their side, goes to the boss for the one or two things on that list that only the boss can cope with. That way everybody has a respective amount of work and you’re not trying to do everything yourself.

  1. Learn to communicate what result you expect to see and stay objective-focused. You should have impeccable communication skills because you need to be able to tell your designers what it is that they’re going to do, and what you expect from them in return. And you really have to be focused on what the outcome is. You shouldn’t care how your designers got to that outcome, with Photoshop or whatever. You just need to be specific about what you need as a final result and bring that one vision to the whole team.
  2. Say “thank you” to your designers. Simple phrases like “thank you for your work”, “I love how you handle this”, or “have a good evening”- such little interactions can go a long, long way. The team will be ready to make that extra step for you when they know they are appreciated. Let your people know they matter and that will make a huge difference.
  3. Don’t become best friends with designers. Don’t get me wrong. Have good relationships, but the problem with friendship is that it may become a manipulation point. I don’t want to make people feel bad, but if you screw the contract, I’ll have to tell you about it: business is business, and friendship is friendship. So if you are about to work with a friend, make sure to sign a contract which says what you expect, what is to be delivered, when, how much (full stop). No exceptions.
  4. Treat your designers well. Working with designers, you’re not curing cancer or solving world hunger, like, you’re not solving the great problems of our time. That doesn’t mean your work isn’t relevant, to you and your client - it is, but if a designer turns to you and says “look man, something happened in my family, I’m going to be a few days late with my tasks” or “I need help”  - that’s not a problem. I have no problem calling a client and saying that due to certain circumstances we ran into some delays, and this is how I foresee the timeline changing. Remember that a missed deadline isn’t the end of the world, so stay human to your teammates.

How does managing a design team compare to being a designer?

Being a good designer doesn’t make you a good manager. Management is its own skill. Well, a good designer with the right skills makes a good manager, but good designers usually want to do everything themselves. And being a design manager means that you’re no longer a designer, you trust others to do the job, and you’re in charge of making sure that they perform well and work towards the same goal.

Imagine you’ve got the best accountant, and you put them in charge of other accountants. They no longer perform the accounting job and, most probably, they’re going to fall into one of two traps:

  1. They will be like “Never mind, I’ll do it all myself because I know how to do it.”
  2. They’re just going to do the job and then get caught in the middle between whoever is about them and the team where they are not actually managing anyone.

Your job as a manager is to protect your team and make sure your designers have everything they need, I mean not only the resources, but also the healthy environment, to make their lives easier and their work pleasant.

Finally, here is also a statement about the difference between managers and leaders: managers ask you to do work, and leaders ask you to give them results.

Maksym Chervynskyi, head of design at Eleken

Maksym has more than 8 years of experience in UI/UX and graphic design. In 2018 he started his career in Eleken as a UI/UX designer and was promoted to senior user experience designer and then to lead user experience designer within 2 years. Now Maksym’s responsibilities include leading a team of user experience designers, participating in hiring and evaluation processes, supporting and mentoring junior designers, as well as sharing knowledge and expertise with the whole team.

By the way, there’s a separate article in which Maksym shares his experience of being a product design manager.

What do you think is the main responsibility of a design lead?

The main responsibility of a design lead is to do everything in your power to provide your designers with the most suitable and comfortable work conditions that would allow them to deliver high-quality results. 

I mean, you have to create a safe environment that will foster professional and self-growth. This includes giving your team access to relevant knowledge, teaching them to find actionable design solutions on their own, helping them master new skills, and giving them a sense of support, no matter what challenges they face.

What do you find the most challenging about managing designers?

The most challenging is to learn to trust your team and their ability to create cool things. It’s quite complicated to stop giving your designers ready-made answers every time they face some difficulty, but to let them search for a solution on their own. 

If you watch each of your designer’s steps and think you know better how to create a great user interface, you don’t give your team members a chance to improve and develop their own design style.

So, every time you want to “slightly” modify your designer’s idea - get over yourself, stop micromanaging, and let the team unleash their creativity and feel the responsibility for their work. Be ready that their solutions may differ from what you expected to see, but that doesn’t make them poorly made. 

What can you advise those who’ve just started their way as design managers?

Trust your team and let them know you’re available to help at any time. That means, on the one hand, the conditions you create should give your designers freedom of action, but on the other hand, your team should understand that you serve as their lifeline and that they are never left alone with their problems.

You should be the epitome of stability for your people, someone who is always on their side ready to lend a helping hand. They make independent professional decisions, but know that they can turn to their design manager, if necessary.

How does managing a design team compare to being a designer?

Being a designer means that you have your individual daily tasks to complete: you’re the one to make decisions and choose methods you like to come up with the solution. Being a design manager means that you have to delegate all the responsibilities to your team.

And again, it’s all about trust. Your role is to clearly communicate what you expect to receive, but believe that your designers’ individual decisions will result in a great outcome without your constant involvement (in fact, the result may happen to be much better than you expect). And it shouldn’t matter to you what path they chose to deliver that outcome.

Of course, you can teach junior designers your own methods of work, but in the end, each team member will have their own unique approach. And that’s what stands behind the professional development of an individual employee, a team, and consequently, the whole company. Diversity of design talents doesn’t let your business stand still and allows you to create truly innovative products. 

To sum up

All the interviewed experts gave us a lot of food for thought (kudos to Marian Fusek, Richart Strother, and Maksym Chervynskyi). Even though all of them have their unique experience in managing design teams, we can see some common thoughts that repeat throughout the whole text no matter who comments on the topic. This way we can distinguish the three pillars of a successful design team management and they are trust, freedom of action, and taking care of each individual designer.

  • Trust your designers as the experts that know how to do the job.
  • Give them enough freedom to create, experiment, make mistakes and consequently bring more innovation to your company.
  • Remember that all your designers are individuals with their own strengths, weaknesses, problems, and desires, and treat them accordingly. Create a safe environment for each worker and watch your team grow and thrive.

And if you are looking for a trustworthy and dedicated team of designers for your SaaS product, extend your team with Eleken.

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