The market for design and its role inside and outside of companies is going through a transformation at the moment. I’m not interested in adding to the busy debate about “X is dead” or “Y is the future”. I’d rather share the jobs we see design firms being hired to do, now that top tier design talent is being relocated to large internal product teams and user experience is shifting into a CEO’s portfolio. This is the model we’re working with at at Heist and continue to evolve as the market for design changes.
Give companies a hyper space button
Companies that already have internal product design capabilities have opportunities come up that are not on their roadmap and are time sensitive. Finding, recruiting, hiring and on-boarding new designers, researchers and developers is a long process. Our team can bolt on to an existing design or product team and help them close the time/people gap to get a new product, platform or feature to market. We’re able to bolt because we work closely with our clients, sometimes we even move in with them. There’s no big reveal and we work with internal teams on a daily basis. Through sketches to prototypes to shipping something live, clients see our work as it progresses. This is the best way we’ve found to understand the restraints and use considerations that can change through out a project. This ensures that we build something that is valuable for the business and useful for customers.
Setup a design & customer research practice
Then there are companies that don’t have design capabilities but want to build well designed experiences, services and products. Typically, these are engineering-led tech companies that see their competitors gaining an edge through design or large enterprises that are MBA-led and have their products getting designed by committees of stakeholders. We can bring in the fundamentals of a design process and customize it to fit how that organization operates. We setup the process by putting it into practice — we’ll pick a platform or property to start with and teach the company how to talk to customers, hire designers, manage stakeholder feedback, build prototypes to learn from and create design consistency. As the company hires teams of their own, we slowly phase off, leaving behind a fully functional digital product team and process.
Build tools that help teams work better
Being inside companies with and without design capabilities, we get a first hand view of some of the challenges facing teams. These are pain points related to process that we can solve with software. Problems like sharing design progress across teams, involving non-designers in the design process and making customer research scheduling more efficient. There’s lots of opportunity to make the non-heads-down design activities that eat up our days more efficient. We’re better designers when we spend more time designing. Our first foray into this is Field Guide, it helps product teams act faster on customer research. This isn’t a small endeavour for Heist, we’re building a dedicated team around our products and bootstrapping them ourselves. We’ll share more about Field Guide and the rest of the products we’re building soon.
In sum, we’re selling design enablement — teams, tools and processes that help design-oriented companies get shit done.
Design enablement means more companies have design at the core of their organization and process. They understand the value of great design and have the ability to create well designed products, services and experiences. The more design-enabled companies there are, the larger our market is regardless of whether there’s a world-class design team in-house.
These are the jobs we believe we’re being hired to do, but we’re constantly tweaking and adjusting based on what we learn from the market. The previous concepts of product-client-agency-consulting-freelance are being broken down and it makes for a more exciting time than ever to rebuild them into something new. If you have thoughts on this or are interested in solving these problems with us, shoot me a line at email@example.com or @n8garvie.