Great managers are not bosses, they are servant leaders who wield their power to help others do their best work and develop fulfilling careers. Though being an effective manager can be a challenge and career-long learning process, even for the most experienced leaders, including Julie Zhuo, VP of Product Design at Facebook and author of The Making of a Manager.

Most designers, when presented with a leadership opportunity, jump into the role enthusiastically, unaware of the challenges ahead.

But not Andy Law, who before making the leap from designer to design leader at Netflix, did his homework by talking to others who had made the same transition. He discovered that most designers struggle with the new duties required of them as leaders. They quickly realize that their talents as an individual contributor don’t translate into management.

“I’m never going to be 100% prepared to be a design leader, but I’ll always be 100% committed,” Andy concluded.

Andy’s just one of…

How more strongly bonded teams design better together

These days, it’s not uncommon for design teams to double in size in less than 12 month, and not just in tech startups. Insurance, banking, and many other industries with long histories are investing in design as they feel competitive pressure from younger companies using digital customer experience as a competitive advantage. Design is increasingly seen as a key component of any successful company — great news for those of us in the design field.

Here’s the bad news: as teams grow it gets harder to do good work. When the design…

The Do’s and Don’ts of Constructive Creative Conversations

Feedback is arguably the most important resource for a designer.

It helps skilled designers hone their work faster. It gives junior designers the opportunity to learn from more experienced team members. And, when done well, it helps everyone stay focused on goals and outcomes.

Yet despite all this, establishing a healthy culture of feedback within a design team isn’t necessarily easy. So this post will examine informal and formal practices that can shape the way designers give and receive feedback.

Informal Feedback Is All About Environment

The key to generating good informal feedback is having a good environment…

Insights from InVision’s 2019 Product Design Hiring Report

As VP of Design Education at InVision, I have the opportunity to talk with design leaders and hiring managers from many companies and industries. Despite their differing backgrounds, brands and budgets, they share one common, recurring pain point: the struggle to recruit the best designers onto their teams.

This is especially true in today’s hyper-competitive market, where having a great design team has been proven to improve business outcomes. …

You gotta have metrics to bring to the table with non-designers.

That was the big takeaway from a recent Fireside Chat I hosted on how to best communicate the value of design. Leanne Waldal, research leader at Dropbox, Autodesk and more, plus Kerry Rodden, co-creator of Google’s HEART framework, joined me to talk through the challenges of making sure design gets the respect it deserves within an organization.

From that conversation I published a short primer on the HEART framework, including links to other frameworks for measuring user experience.

But in this post I want to share some of the…

Is design undervalued at your organization?

Even as more designers are welcomed at the proverbial table, there’s a lingering sense that executives and colleagues from other departments don’t understand design’s impact on the bottom line. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

The field of design has matured to the point that we have the tools, frameworks and expertise needed to successfully communicate to non-designers what we do and why it’s important.

I recently hosted a Fireside Chat with two of my favorite experts on the topic, and this post follows one of the threads from our conversation.

You Gotta Have Metrics


Introducing DesignBetter.Co — the essential guide to running healthy design teams from InVision’s Design Education team

Over the past couple of years we’ve noticed a significant shift in design teams — they’re scaling quickly as companies recognize the strategic advantage design brings. With scale comes many challenges like refining process, leveling up on leadership, and sparking a design transformation in companies that can be resistant to change.

At InVision, we recognize that design needs great tools to succeed, but equally important are the practices that shape our work. We’re in a pretty unique position. …

Originally published in The UX Newsletter on Feb 10, 2014.

User experience is such a nebulous term. It’s a container that can hold almost any discipline — research, design, development, even customer support could fit comfortably under the UX moniker. How do you build a UX team when the profiles of the team members are so vastly different?

Back in 2008, when the MailChimp UX team was just me, I had to be a generalist. I designed UIs, wrote front-end code, built prototypes, interviewed customers, and conducted usability tests. Working on so many different things early on helped me see…

Hiring is hard. It requires time, patience, and sensitivity to subtle signals that help determine whether someone is a fit for the position. I’ve spent more than a year searching for the right candidate for some positions, because I’m not just trying to find the right skills for the job — I’m trying to find the right person.

People have personalities and perspectives that influence their performance and the way they communicate on teams. These things are squishy and hard to size up, but ignore them at your peril. In my experience, the primary reasons for letting an employee go…

Aarron Walter

Author of Designing for Emotion, second edition from @abookapart. VP of Design Publishing @InVisionapp.

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