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Design team

How to Build Your Perfect Design Team: Strategy for Product Owners

8

mins to read

Many product owners find it challenging to hire new team members, let alone build a whole design team. But with the proper knowledge, it's not impossible. 

Eleken is a team of product designers (with emphasis on the word "team") with experience working on projects of different scales and complexity. That's why we understand that having a reliable, dedicated, and well-structured team determines half of the project's success.

So, how do you go about building a design team?

Roles in a design team

A design team is a group of designers with different responsibilities whose main objective is to complete a design project (such as developing a website, web page, or mobile app) using certain design tools and methods. 

To accomplish any design project, someone should be responsible for UI design (creating aesthetically pleasing screens), UX design (building intuitive and logical user flows, wireframes, and prototypes), and UX research (conducting user testing to validate ideas, creating buyer personas, tracking customer feedback, and so on). And it should not necessarily be three different people.

Here is the list of specialists who deal with the above duties and can be a part of your crew:

  • UX designer. Their role is to provide a consistent and intuitive user experience across all products.
  • Product designer. The duties of product designers are quite similar to UX designers, but except for user experience, product designers also make the great focus on the company’s business goals. 
  • Visual (UI) designers develop visual concepts based on the creative brief and turn them into layouts (choosing and ordering images, colors, typography, and so on) for design projects.
  • UX researcher. This specialist must identify users' needs and design objectives, create a plan to reach them, conduct research (user interviews, usability testing, A/B testing), and analyze the results.
  • Copywriter/UX copywriter. The goal of a copywriter here is, with the help of their writing skills, to help the user easily reach their goal, find a solution to their issue, and quickly navigate through the app.
  • UX lead. The UX lead mentors other designers, communicates with the whole team, presents their thoughts and ideas to the company's leaders, and ensures the project moves in the right direction.

Though there are numerous job positions in the design industry, very often one person combines several design team responsibilities and that’s where you start hesitating about the number of employees you need to hire.

Strategy for building a design team

Creating a professional design team is a complex process that requires hiring good specialists, correctly distributing their responsibilities, choosing the right tools and methods, and building a consistent product design process.

Here are some pieces of advice that would help you move in the right direction when building your design team: 

Define your needs and what you expect each team member to do

To get the product design team structure right, you must understand what tasks and deliverables you expect them to deliver.

Think about the product or service you are developing and the skills needed to successfully build the product. Create a list of needs and prioritize them. By doing this, it becomes clear what kind of help you require to solve some specific issues. 

The result can be the following: 

Must-haves

  • building user flows, wireframes, and prototypes
  • creating UI kits
  • conducting user interviews
  • conducting user testing

Nice-to-have

  • creating content strategy

As you can see, we don't mention job titles here. Try to focus on the skills and personalities your team needs to successfully cope with tasks.

Once you have distributed all responsibilities among your employees, they will need a clear step-by-step plan for how (and with the help of what tools) to design a product/service.

Think of an effective product design process

An established and well-organized design process will help designers move faster toward delivering the final design solution. It eliminates misunderstandings or miscommunications both within the internal team and when communicating with you (the product owner). With a defined design process, the designers know what to do, when to do it, and what you expect to see as the outcome.

At our organization, the product design process looks something like that:

The design process at Eleken when developing a product from scratch

The design process at Eleken when developing a product from scratch

Facilitate professional growth

growing a design team
Image credit: goodera.com

Think out the directions for each worker in your team's professional growth. Otherwise, your team members may decide that they have reached the company's limit of growth and that it is time for them to move forward.

The best way to learn something new is to observe the best in their field, work alongside them, and get feedback. A mentor helps your employee develop a clear development plan and define tasks for practicing and improving skills. A mentor can be a middle designer, art director, or employee with more practical experience in some specific area.

A good leader's job is to think about beneficial growth for both the business and the individual.

Leave space for diversity and freedom of actions

diversity in the design team

Diverse designers are the strength of any organization. Each designer you hire is, first of all, a personality with its strengths, weaknesses, and wishes. They are creators, and they should be able to create cool things (and cool projects). 

Therefore everyone has their own preferences. Some of your employees will prefer some "creative" tasks, others would rather delve into technical aspects of a product. That’s why, it is necessary to give the designer freedom of action, to allow them to make their own decisions or work on different projects to avoid burning out. At the same time, let your designers know that they can always turn to other team members for help.

Ask for feedback often

Over time your company and your team will scale and evolve. With this growth, you will have to make changes in the methods you use or even the work culture you’ve established. To keep track of those changes and be able to make adjustments in time, talk to your employees and ask for their feedback. 

FAQ

There are some questions you might still have.

How big should my team be?

UX design team structure varies depending on the company and type of project. Large corporations have dozens of designers, each in their own product team. There are also UX design agencies with ten people who can perfectly cope with their duties. Many startups have only one designer but an expert in their field. 

The number of designers in most cases only affects the project's length. The quality of the final result depends on the designer's skills, not the quantity.

For that reason, in case you have a great scope of work or need to complete the project fitting deadlines, it's better to hire more employees.

How to choose a design team structure?

How to choose a design team structure?
The variety of design team structures across different organizations.

Choosing the right design team structure is essential for project success. Options range from hierarchical setups for clear communication and accountability to flat structures that foster autonomy and creativity. Specialized teams offer deep expertise but risk siloed workflows, while cross-functional teams promote collaboration but require effective coordination. Ultimately, the ideal structure should align with your organization's goals and project requirements, prioritizing clarity, collaboration, and flexibility.

Do I necessarily need a project manager? 

The need of the project manager depends mostly on the scale of the project. Of course, if there are 10 designers working on the project, it is necessary to have someone who will manage them. In case there is one specialist on staff, he or she will easily cope with all tasks without an additional manager’s help.

Different companies choose different approaches. For example, in Wix, they have 2 managers for the designer. The first is the design guild manager who cares about the designer’s personal development (helps to grow professionally and understand in which direction to move). The second is the project manager - this person looks at how the designer works on a specific project and distributes tasks.

In contrast, at Eleken, we don’t have project managers at all. We believe that having direct communication between designers and the client leaves no misunderstanding and leads to better final results.

What is the best design team?

There is no definite answer to the question of how to form a design team, and who should be part of it. For example, at first, Genius didn't have a designer at all. And at Pocket, the designer was the second most important employee, and designers played an important role in the development of the product from the very beginning. Someone is hiring very experienced designers with ten years of experience at worldwide-known companies. Others prefer to hire designers with a wide variety of backgrounds. Airbnb's design team includes a former librarian, mechanic, therapist, and dancer.

It's easy to manage designers - the main thing is to find cool guys and let them create. Good professionals love their job and make a sincere thrill from tasks, making the world a better place. 

Therefore, create nice work conditions for your team members, make sure they have your support, listen to their opinion, and together you will create beautiful, effective, and valuable products.

We hope that the article helped you make up your mind on what you need to build a killer design team and:

Now it’s time to create a job posting, prepare solid designer interview questions, and get ready to search for a designer that will become a part of your dream team.
To make this process shorter and more pleasant, you can just contact Eleken and get your reliable SaaS design team in the shortest time, making little effort.

A strategy for those who don’t like waiting

Everything we’ve discussed above works great, but such a strategy is suitable for those who are ready to patiently and steadily adhere to a long-term plan. But what if you have a limited time frame or it’s not profitable for you to hire an in-house team and train them?

In such a situation, think of an alternative like hiring a design agency with strictly selected personnel, no overheads, and no worries about employee turnover.

Eleken UX design company specializes in designing SaaS products for different industries and company types.

Our company culture is geared to creating a work environment that allows our employees to develop their ideas and fulfill their passion for creating great products. We work hand in hand with product managers and lead developers throughout the whole product design process. We help each other, look at each other’s work, get each other’s feedback, and have thorough discussions to deliver the best design solution.

Opting for Eleken you:

  • won’t have to take care of the hiring process, as we’ve already got the best talents in our team
  • will be able to change the number of designers when needed
  • will communicate directly with designers without paying additionally for the manager’s hours
  • Won’t have to pay sick leaves, insurance, and so on.

Contact us today to see how it works!

Kateryna Mayka

Author

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How to Build Your Perfect Design Team: Strategy for Product Owners

8

min to read

Table of contents
Share

Many product owners find it challenging to hire new team members, let alone build a whole design team. But with the proper knowledge, it's not impossible. 

Eleken is a team of product designers (with emphasis on the word "team") with experience working on projects of different scales and complexity. That's why we understand that having a reliable, dedicated, and well-structured team determines half of the project's success.

So, how do you go about building a design team?

Roles in a design team

A design team is a group of designers with different responsibilities whose main objective is to complete a design project (such as developing a website, web page, or mobile app) using certain design tools and methods. 

To accomplish any design project, someone should be responsible for UI design (creating aesthetically pleasing screens), UX design (building intuitive and logical user flows, wireframes, and prototypes), and UX research (conducting user testing to validate ideas, creating buyer personas, tracking customer feedback, and so on). And it should not necessarily be three different people.

Here is the list of specialists who deal with the above duties and can be a part of your crew:

  • UX designer. Their role is to provide a consistent and intuitive user experience across all products.
  • Product designer. The duties of product designers are quite similar to UX designers, but except for user experience, product designers also make the great focus on the company’s business goals. 
  • Visual (UI) designers develop visual concepts based on the creative brief and turn them into layouts (choosing and ordering images, colors, typography, and so on) for design projects.
  • UX researcher. This specialist must identify users' needs and design objectives, create a plan to reach them, conduct research (user interviews, usability testing, A/B testing), and analyze the results.
  • Copywriter/UX copywriter. The goal of a copywriter here is, with the help of their writing skills, to help the user easily reach their goal, find a solution to their issue, and quickly navigate through the app.
  • UX lead. The UX lead mentors other designers, communicates with the whole team, presents their thoughts and ideas to the company's leaders, and ensures the project moves in the right direction.

Though there are numerous job positions in the design industry, very often one person combines several design team responsibilities and that’s where you start hesitating about the number of employees you need to hire.

Strategy for building a design team

Creating a professional design team is a complex process that requires hiring good specialists, correctly distributing their responsibilities, choosing the right tools and methods, and building a consistent product design process.

Here are some pieces of advice that would help you move in the right direction when building your design team: 

Define your needs and what you expect each team member to do

To get the product design team structure right, you must understand what tasks and deliverables you expect them to deliver.

Think about the product or service you are developing and the skills needed to successfully build the product. Create a list of needs and prioritize them. By doing this, it becomes clear what kind of help you require to solve some specific issues. 

The result can be the following: 

Must-haves

  • building user flows, wireframes, and prototypes
  • creating UI kits
  • conducting user interviews
  • conducting user testing

Nice-to-have

  • creating content strategy

As you can see, we don't mention job titles here. Try to focus on the skills and personalities your team needs to successfully cope with tasks.

Once you have distributed all responsibilities among your employees, they will need a clear step-by-step plan for how (and with the help of what tools) to design a product/service.

Think of an effective product design process

An established and well-organized design process will help designers move faster toward delivering the final design solution. It eliminates misunderstandings or miscommunications both within the internal team and when communicating with you (the product owner). With a defined design process, the designers know what to do, when to do it, and what you expect to see as the outcome.

At our organization, the product design process looks something like that:

The design process at Eleken when developing a product from scratch

The design process at Eleken when developing a product from scratch

Facilitate professional growth

growing a design team
Image credit: goodera.com

Think out the directions for each worker in your team's professional growth. Otherwise, your team members may decide that they have reached the company's limit of growth and that it is time for them to move forward.

The best way to learn something new is to observe the best in their field, work alongside them, and get feedback. A mentor helps your employee develop a clear development plan and define tasks for practicing and improving skills. A mentor can be a middle designer, art director, or employee with more practical experience in some specific area.

A good leader's job is to think about beneficial growth for both the business and the individual.

Leave space for diversity and freedom of actions

diversity in the design team

Diverse designers are the strength of any organization. Each designer you hire is, first of all, a personality with its strengths, weaknesses, and wishes. They are creators, and they should be able to create cool things (and cool projects). 

Therefore everyone has their own preferences. Some of your employees will prefer some "creative" tasks, others would rather delve into technical aspects of a product. That’s why, it is necessary to give the designer freedom of action, to allow them to make their own decisions or work on different projects to avoid burning out. At the same time, let your designers know that they can always turn to other team members for help.

Ask for feedback often

Over time your company and your team will scale and evolve. With this growth, you will have to make changes in the methods you use or even the work culture you’ve established. To keep track of those changes and be able to make adjustments in time, talk to your employees and ask for their feedback. 

FAQ

There are some questions you might still have.

How big should my team be?

UX design team structure varies depending on the company and type of project. Large corporations have dozens of designers, each in their own product team. There are also UX design agencies with ten people who can perfectly cope with their duties. Many startups have only one designer but an expert in their field. 

The number of designers in most cases only affects the project's length. The quality of the final result depends on the designer's skills, not the quantity.

For that reason, in case you have a great scope of work or need to complete the project fitting deadlines, it's better to hire more employees.

How to choose a design team structure?

How to choose a design team structure?
The variety of design team structures across different organizations.

Choosing the right design team structure is essential for project success. Options range from hierarchical setups for clear communication and accountability to flat structures that foster autonomy and creativity. Specialized teams offer deep expertise but risk siloed workflows, while cross-functional teams promote collaboration but require effective coordination. Ultimately, the ideal structure should align with your organization's goals and project requirements, prioritizing clarity, collaboration, and flexibility.

Do I necessarily need a project manager? 

The need of the project manager depends mostly on the scale of the project. Of course, if there are 10 designers working on the project, it is necessary to have someone who will manage them. In case there is one specialist on staff, he or she will easily cope with all tasks without an additional manager’s help.

Different companies choose different approaches. For example, in Wix, they have 2 managers for the designer. The first is the design guild manager who cares about the designer’s personal development (helps to grow professionally and understand in which direction to move). The second is the project manager - this person looks at how the designer works on a specific project and distributes tasks.

In contrast, at Eleken, we don’t have project managers at all. We believe that having direct communication between designers and the client leaves no misunderstanding and leads to better final results.

What is the best design team?

There is no definite answer to the question of how to form a design team, and who should be part of it. For example, at first, Genius didn't have a designer at all. And at Pocket, the designer was the second most important employee, and designers played an important role in the development of the product from the very beginning. Someone is hiring very experienced designers with ten years of experience at worldwide-known companies. Others prefer to hire designers with a wide variety of backgrounds. Airbnb's design team includes a former librarian, mechanic, therapist, and dancer.

It's easy to manage designers - the main thing is to find cool guys and let them create. Good professionals love their job and make a sincere thrill from tasks, making the world a better place. 

Therefore, create nice work conditions for your team members, make sure they have your support, listen to their opinion, and together you will create beautiful, effective, and valuable products.

We hope that the article helped you make up your mind on what you need to build a killer design team and:

Now it’s time to create a job posting, prepare solid designer interview questions, and get ready to search for a designer that will become a part of your dream team.
To make this process shorter and more pleasant, you can just contact Eleken and get your reliable SaaS design team in the shortest time, making little effort.

A strategy for those who don’t like waiting

Everything we’ve discussed above works great, but such a strategy is suitable for those who are ready to patiently and steadily adhere to a long-term plan. But what if you have a limited time frame or it’s not profitable for you to hire an in-house team and train them?

In such a situation, think of an alternative like hiring a design agency with strictly selected personnel, no overheads, and no worries about employee turnover.

Eleken UX design company specializes in designing SaaS products for different industries and company types.

Our company culture is geared to creating a work environment that allows our employees to develop their ideas and fulfill their passion for creating great products. We work hand in hand with product managers and lead developers throughout the whole product design process. We help each other, look at each other’s work, get each other’s feedback, and have thorough discussions to deliver the best design solution.

Opting for Eleken you:

  • won’t have to take care of the hiring process, as we’ve already got the best talents in our team
  • will be able to change the number of designers when needed
  • will communicate directly with designers without paying additionally for the manager’s hours
  • Won’t have to pay sick leaves, insurance, and so on.

Contact us today to see how it works!

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