Design Critique at DKatalis: The What(s), the Why(s), and the How(s)

Plus, find out the wildest ideas from the brilliant minds of our team here 😆

Maria Juwita


COVID-19 protocol disclaimer: We took the safety of everyone seriously. All of the team members were required to take the PCR test before we departed. We also encourage them to stick with the health and hygiene protocols by providing face masks and hand sanitizers around the villa.

Phew. Finally.

After months of preparation and delayed plans, we successfully held our 3-day First Design Critique event offline! Joined by 15 product designers and 6 UX writers from DKatalis’ Product Design Chapter, this didn’t only serve as a team-bonding event but also helped us to explore and improve our problem-solving skills.

Let’s see how we did it and what we learned from this insightful-yet-so-fun event! The following topics will be covered:

Why Design Critique?

First, you might ask: why did we even need the Design Critique as a separate event? Why not just set a meeting and have an online discussion?

The short answer and the hard truth are: (1) everyone hates the long hours of meeting; and (2) everyone is simply too busy to be called into a Google Meet session (imagine trying to match the schedule of 22 team members, ugh!). Hence, we decided to have days off from our business as usual and create dedicated focus time to conduct the Design Critique offline.

But here is the serious answer: Design Critique is our way to hone our creativity and problem-solving skills, and we thought this could be achieved more easily in face-to-face settings. In addition to that, isn’t it good to have an offline gathering and get to know the faces behind the screen, after all this time? Because I know what it feels like to join a company during the pandemic and doesn’t even know what your colleagues look like for several months (personally been there, done that 🥲)

Also, while we have been mining our ideas for the new features and enhancements within the clan, we realize that we never really take time to take a look and have visibility on what the others are working on. Whereas having visibility actually has so many benefits for the clan member or those outside the clans, such as:

  • To gather more objective views and constructive feedback from the member outside the clan. We understand that sometimes when you are exposed to a complicated feature that’s been going on forever, you will reach a dead-end and become too saturated to come up with new solutions (“Creative block” is the fancier term to describe this condition, according to Google). So, this session will be a great platform to cultivate insights from fresh minds outside your usual working partners.
  • To support team building and strengthen the safe space within the chapter by having a productive discussion, where everyone can throw in their ideas without having to worry about being judged. Because let’s be honest, in a larger setup like a group of more than 20 people, it’s really easy to become intimidated and pressured into creating a perfect persona in front of everyone. This can make the team members keep their brilliant ideas themselves and this is something that we don’t want to happen in the Product Design Chapter.
  • To keep everyone in the loop on what products are coming from the other side, both from Jago and PX teams. This is helpful for team members to understand and see the bigger picture about where the company is focused right now and where the business direction is going.
  • As the retrospective session for the current design. Remember, we are humans, not the programmed AI who has the exact same pre-defined skillset and expertise. We have our strengths, unique ways of thinking, and different perspectives, and we hope to share our points of view with each other, so we can learn to be more open and understand a wider viewpoint to provide better solutions to our users.

“We need to break the gap and bridge the collaboration for the better Jago and PX app, with the goal to find the best solutions and deliver bigger value to our customers.”

— Cipta Pratama, Product Design Chapter Lead

Debunking the Myths about the Design Critique

Obviously we want this session to be productive and ensure that every idea and opinion voiced is valued. So, we make sure to clear up the myths surrounding the Design Critique before D-day by sticking to these 2 basic principles:

This is not a beauty contest

To gather more meaningful and deeper feedback, we really encourage the team members to think beyond the visual. So, it’s not really about the CTA position or even the color scheme in the particular screen that we’ll be discussing, but more about the functionality, how this feature solves users’ problems, and even imagining what kind of potential improvements can be added to make it more user-centric.

This is not a place to prove who’s right and wrong

Upon hearing its name, many people would be alarmed by how negative the connotation of the word “critique” is. Afraid of being attacked or not seen as “smart enough” are several things that we want to avoid during this session. But again, this is a huge misconception because Design Critique is not a contest to prove which side is right or wrong, and who wins or loses the argument. Rather, we want everyone not to be scared to think aloud and present what’s on their minds freely to find the best solutions for our users.

To ensure we have enough time to cover the topics, we split the design critique into several small sessions within a certain time limit. The sessions are structured in a way that we can support productive discussion and give enough time for everyone to voice their opinions, which we will explore in the next section.

The Framework

Even though it’s conducted in casual settings, the ideas are definitely hotter than the sun outside 🔥

Design Critique is an essential part of our team and products, but even from the start, we acknowledge that it’s somewhat tricky to navigate because it can potentially lead to an unproductive debate which makes everyone frustrated instead.

Find out how we run our successful Design Critique session to bring out the most of it!

Storytelling session (20 mins)

This session is presented by the team whose case is chosen. The presentation covers the backgrounds, problem statement, “How-might-we” statement, and illustration of the ideas (in the forms of user flows, block sketch, or key user interfaces)

Critique session (20 mins)

To ensure we’re gathering and discussing the constructive critique, we limit the critique into 3 main criteria:

  • To challenge the problem statements: Helpful to provide a new point of view of how the problems can be seen or addressed
  • To propose new solutions: Everyone can review the proposed solution and come up with at least one reason why the solution will fail. Afterward, they can try to provide new solutions instead
  • To critique the solutions presented: Come up with an unconventional way to address the problem

Open mic session (15 mins)

Next is the session where the presenter can address the critique from other members, explain the what’s and the why’s behind their decision, and take notes of what input can be followed up later.

Summary and way forward (5 mins)

Lastly, our Product Design Chapter Lead will summarize the session and share his vision based on the overall business direction as well as the user-centricity to improve the product.

How Our Imagination Runs Wild: Book a Space in the PX App

Today, most of the folks in DKatalis are still comfortably working from anywhere, but when the schedule fits, some of us will sometimes visit the office to have offline meetings or catch up over lunch with the team members. This hybrid setup definitely adds another challenge for the People team as well as the employees: how do we ensure there is enough space at the office for everyone, when the headcount is already outnumbered the office capacity?

In the PD chapter itself, for example, 1 big table was enough for the team (and even our bags) to sit on before the pandemic. Now? We have to secure at least 2 tables if all of us were to come to the office. Imagine that this issue doesn’t only happen for one team, but for the whole DKatalis. Disaster much, don’t you think?

To help the People team to ensure everyone will have a seat whenever they decide to come to the office, we have a feature in the PX App called Book a Space.

In short, this is a feature where Katalis (what we call the team members ) can book a seat whenever they want to come to the office, such as selecting the schedule and even choosing their preferred spot to ensure they (or their team) are guaranteed a place to sit.

Book a Seat booking flow

Currently, this feature already covers all the basic booking flow, such as:

  • Choosing the office building (Jakarta, Singapore, or Pune)
  • Choosing the time (date and shift: morning, evening, or all day); users can also view the quota left for the selected time in this step
  • Choosing the floor and seat
  • Confirming the booking

But little did we know that we can actually turn this into a way more powerful tool! Here are some ideas that came up during the critique session:

Risk assessment

The idea of using this feature as the filter can be achieved by implementing a simple risk survey (like questions about whether you have been in a public space in the last 14 days, have been using public transportation in the last 14 days, etc), then give each user a scoring whether they are safe to visit the office or not

Tracking and tracing

For the tracing, we can keep the booking history and send an automatic alert to all employees who have been in the same area or floor with the impacted member. By doing this, we need to keep the database of each employee, the date and time of their visit (at least for 14 days), and their seat to ensure we target the right people, should there be anyone who becomes positive.

Inventory and facility bookings

Sometimes we need the markers, the other day it’s sticky notes or even the HDMI cable to support our brilliant discussion, but not every table or every room at the office provides these inventories. Then we thought, why not add the option to request the stationeries you need right when you book a space?

360° tour of the office

Okay, this one is more of an entertainment purpose rather than functionality, but why not? Since we have so many new joiners during the pandemic, we thought it would be fun and helpful to give them a preview of what our office looks like, so they won’t be lost when looking for the seat they have booked. In short, It’s like a mini Google Maps street view within the PX app!

Booking Checkpoint

Lastly, all of the capabilities above will be most beneficial if we can ensure that the employees are following the right procedure and to make sure everyone is at the right spot at the right time. This can be achieved by adding the offline checkpoint; by QRIS scan, or even done manually; at the office to monitor the bookings.

The working-from-anywhere setup is definitely one of our greatest privileges today as Katalis. But surely, once-in-a-while gatherings like this really help us to refresh our minds and bond with each other.

Now that we are entering Q4, we are so ready to tackle more challenges and work on the greater feature for our users!

If you ever wonder what it’s like to be part of a team like this, feel free to roam around the our career page and you might find a suitable role!

Who knows, next month you’ll be the one enjoying the upgraded version of the PX app to book your seat at the office 😉