Tips on Product Design Skills
Lola, Founder & CEO of Lunch Pail Labs, shares how she nurtured her passion for design and developed a career in UX/UI. She also gives practical advice on how to follow her footsteps.
Q: How did you build your UX/UI design skills? Please share some resources with us.
A: I started off by turning the design into a daily habit. One site that was really helpful to get into the groove was Daily UI because they send you a design challenge to execute every day. I also would participate in hackathons, boot camps, and structured programs. Hackathons are an easy way to practice your skills and what it’s like to work as a designer with other people in a pseudo-professional setting. Plus they’re really fun and welcoming environments! Here’s a list of some of my other favorite resources.
- Great design inspiration, Muzli
- Podcasts High Resolution and Creative Confidence by Tom and Dave Kelley
- A helpful program to get started, General Assembly
- Tools for creating prototypes of mobile apps, Invision, Figma, Sketch, AppGyver, and Bubble
Q: Tell us about your design process and framework that informs your work.
A: I typically follow some mixture of empathy, problem definition, ideation, prototyping, testing, and refinement/analysis. So I would start by empathizing with the design challenge; for me, that means understanding the context through data or conducting some user interviews. Then I would define the problem by using a “how might we” statement. Each stage is oftentimes iterative and I’d jostle back and forth, so it’s not always a straight line for me. Other frameworks I use include:
- AEIOU, where you observe users and note (A) their activities, (E) environment, (I) interactions, (O) objects, and (U) who the users are. This helps increase empathy in design thinking.
- The “Jobs to be Done” framework basically forces you to think about what products or services your customers “hire” to get a “job” done. It can sometimes surface more latent needs.
- And finally, Product South’s Find Your Fit in Tech program is also a great way to learn more about how design fits with other parts of a product team.
Q: What advice do you have for someone who is looking to get into the design from a product manager (PM) role?
A: I would say building a portfolio. I think it would actually be pretty easy for a PM to transition into design since they’re exposed to that world. But the could work on design challenges, go to hackathons and design products so they have work to show (even if it’s work the PM invented like redesigning Airbnb and putting it on your own portfolio site) would all help. Lots of folks I’ve worked with come from all sorts of backgrounds.
Q: What do you wish product managers know and understand (and follow) when working with a designer? What do you wish they would stop doing?
A: That’s such a hard one! I think I’ve worked on really integrated teams that have seen and appreciated the value of design and the design process so I don’t have too much criticism. Though with other stakeholders, I wish more people understood that UX and UI are more than making things pretty. At the root, the design is an approach to problem-solving.
Lola Ojabowale is a product designer and maker. She builds websites and web-apps. Passionate about food, tech, and equity. Her background is a mix of strategy, product, and operations at startups and enterprise companies. She is currently a Founder & CEO of Lunch Pail Labs, a digital product studio and consultancy agency.