Design Director at Credit Karma
Demistifying financial progress as Director of Design at @creditkarma. Previously @evernote. Lover of startups and addicted to new ideas and projects.
The benefit of being the only designer on a team is that it forces you to get feedback from people that aren't designers. Lean into that. Talk to people that will use your work. Talk to engineers. Talk to people on the business side, or partners. You'll have a much more rounded perspective of the impact of your work and how design is guiding the outcome of the product. Still though, try to use your network to get feedback if it's at all possible.
As long as you're discreet, you can often find ways to get feedback from a few trusted people. There are a lot of designers that love giving this type of feedback. Take them up on it.
This helps you focus and helps you get good feedback from people that are busy.
You'll have to work harder though to be really clear about the problem you are trying to solve—but once you do, lot of non designers can offer really great feedback.
Engineers. Customer Support. Marketing. User Research. CEOs. Business Development. Sales. Anybody and everybody. Get out there to show your work and be ready to take the feedback.
You can always get your app in front of people for user testing. Do this and do it often.
All this extra feedback is great. But it's not gospel. Take all of it as extra data points that will help you make the right decision. Don't over emphasize any one piece of feedback—even if it's from the CEO
In my experience, working as the only designer is invigorating, but I'm always so afraid. So I work 3x harder to get it right. I put in extra hours. I try other variations. You just have to put extra effort.
Do it yourself first. This is a typical lead by example area IMHO. People are often hesitant because they aren't sure how it works. So show them. Show work that is early and clearly not done. Show them your thought process, especially when it's messy. Then, over time, they will open up. When they do, make sure to lead with the positive. Be encouraging.
Don't be afraid that you're the only one doing it. You may have to do this for a while before it catches on.
Right at that moment where you're pumped on the thing you're working on, share it. Pull people in and show them. This starts to get excitement going on the team and it eventually becomes contagious. And don't worry, if you end up not using your idea, it will only show how good you are at editing.... See more
When you're walking by and see something on their screen, don't be shy to say "That's super cool. What's that for?" It get's the conversation going.
Especially when you're starting to look at the work of other people, you kind of have to stroke their ego a bit. But this is a good rule always. We tend to look at what can be better but forget what's already working. Start with what's working. That's maybe most helpful early in the process anyway. It starts to build confidence—not only in the project, but in being able to show work early.... See more
There are a lot of reasons for writing a case study, so figuring out WHY you want to do it will completely change how you write it. This is how I've approached mine in the past, and what I like about my favorite case studies over the past few years.
Why are you writing this case study? To get a new job? To build your social profile? To educate others? If your goal is to get a job, write specifically to hiring managers. If you don't know what they want, find some hiring managers and ask them what they look for. If you are just trying to educate others, talk to people about what you did to see what resonates with them—focus on the work more than your personal contribution.... See more
You're a designer. Tell your story. Don't just show photos. Just know that a LOT of people won't read the details. But having a good story is important. But write it in a way that you yourself would want to read.
Who did you work with? What was your particular contribution? What were the guidelines you were given (or not given)? Why did this project matter? Who did it matter to? What impact did it have? How long did it take? All of these could probably be answered in a few words per question. These are just facts that add context to the project. What did you do that was so great? This is the hardest question for you to answer. Spend all your time here. If you need to, go talk to other people you worked with and ask them what they think was so successful. You could maybe talk about your process, but remember your audience and what you want them to take away. Unless you are trying to teach a prospective employer about design process, or you did something particularly unique, maybe leave out the process bit.... See more
I add a summary or tl;dr section to every one of my projects. This allows people to get a sense for the project in 2-3 sentences and decide if they want to read more. If you do this well, they can read the summaries of all your projects in about 5 minutes and have a great understanding of who you are as a designer.... See more
If you've done all that writing, add some structure to make it easy to scan. And provide headers that people can skim so they know where they want to dig in.
AFTER you've come up with your story, and the main things you want to call out, then and only then you can find imagery from your project that augment the story and helps keep things moving. Images are super important and many people will come in just to skim through the images. That's ok. If they support the main story and tie in with the structure, you're off to a great story. The truth is that the fancier your images, the better. Lots of people judge a book by its cover. Use that to your advantage. Last note: your story is almost never made better by adding pictures of all your sticky notes and you in front of a whiteboard. Seriously, it's not unique or compelling and probably doesn't make your story better.... See more