Designing responsibly and responsively for web and mobile.
Hi! I’m a product designer for Events.com. In this article, I cover lessons I learned about working in a lean startup environment as a product designer at Events.com.
ROLE | Product Designer
Primarily, Events.com is a mobile and web-based endurance race management platform. The product is very comprehensive, allowing users to accomplish simple to complicated tasks, everything from buying and selling registrations to e-commerce. Some of what we do and what I have helped design are:
- Self-service end-to-end experience
- Event creation and order management
- Ticket sales and registration
- Merchandise sales and promotional tools
- Data and stats on events and organizations
- Responsive design for mobile and desktop
As part of the product design team, I have touched all these parts of our product. A lot of my work started with improving existing features. I have had the opportunity since to design couple large features that are currently being developed, but more about that in the future.
THE STARTUP |
When people say the startup is a different beast, they are thinking of the following:
- Limited resources
- Constantly shifting needs and goals
- Wearing multiple hats
- Being younger and less established than older competition
With all of these challenges that a startup faces, the key challenge I think I have observed in a startup company is that of prioritization. Both on the macro level (i.e. What direction we want our product to be in the next 2–5 years) and on the micro-level (Do we include this small feature into the next sprint?).
The issue of prioritization takes a lot of forethought by smart people, but even then we need to rely on a very clear process that helps us come to the right solutions within the least amount of time. Which means prioritization.
THE PROCESS |
Our process is actually a hybrid of agile and kanban methodology, where we run two week sprints. For my team that means we are both creating new designs while testing last week’s developed designs.
Working closely with the development team the gist of the process is:
THE TOOLS |
Using Axure and Jira for most of the process, I still like to begin on the white board with post-its and markers. This step comes after properly understanding the problem and having done the user research we need to start formulating solutions.
Being able to problem solve visually before you get distracted by styling pixels, really allows me to focus on the problem at hand.
Early in our process, we want feedback to make sure that we are always design a solution in the context of a problem and our users. Especially when we have multiple solutions, we quickly want to bring that before our users, to test and see if we are answering the problem. Where are the pain points? Does this make sense in the context of the larger product?
Being user-centered in our process is critical to creating a product people will want to use. Which brings me to my next point:
THE USERS |
Although we provide a great experience for event goers, our product is built 90% for the event organizer who are our users for 90% of the end-to-end experience. These range from smaller company events to large multi-day festivals and triathlons. Keeping in mind the vision for our product to be self-service for both types of users, we often have to make very difficult things appear simple.
Often I have found, the challenge is to work within the context of a large and probably intricately built platform and design something that fits within the following criteria:
- Consistency with the overall flow, interaction, and visual design of the platform that the user has already learned.
- Prioritizing the best user experience while also keeping in mind the scope and timeline for timely releases
- Designing for current needs but ultimately having the future product in mind, and so creating a building block rather than one-piece sculpture.
Below are some screenshots of our live site that I worked and applied these lessons to.
THE END |
I think a startup is about the product’s potential as much as it is about the process or people who create it. Events.com is currently serving a space that has a lot of potential for more excellent user experience, and as we further our product towards that higher vision, we are always refining our process.
As a product designer in a startup company, I have become familiar with sometimes moving two steps forward, one step back. It is the nature of having constantly shifting priorities and urgencies. But it is my goal that along with my team, we are moving like a spiral, that may have to move forward and backwards laterally, but always progressing vertically.
Thanks for reading! If you want to learn more about my work please checkout my portfolio: