Every product designer should work on the support team

for some period of time.

Quick back story… I was hired at Architizer to help rethink and rebuild their product. It started as just a few of us, and the challenge was huge. A year and half of my life dedicated towards a 2.0 build, and we were finally live. This is when the real work began.

I went from product designer to product manager. I had the amazing opportunity to help lead the products growth and improve upon what we created.

We had countless analytical tools, user surveys, and in house requests for various improvements. All these data points were great, but what I learned the most from had to be support tickets.

For about 2 months I took on a second job. I was the sole support person in a time of the companies transition. I was managing the product and on the front line of user issues. These two months taught me a lot.

For starters, I learned to take things less personal. To step back from my position and look at the product holistically. As part of the product team it’s easy to forget how biased you are in making design decisions. I see this all the time with my current client work. Flows that I thought were intuitive and straight forward caused users great trouble. Simple upload features had been over simplified.

Now I can’t lie and say every support ticket is important. There are plenty of annoying tickets that don’t even pertain to your product. At one point I almost turned into apple support. But after 2 months the over arching pains of the product were visible. It was relieving and frightening to see what the issues were.

Understanding the real issues within the product were crucial. When you survey users you get their opinion. You get their thoughts on why they think they know your product better then you, and they are not always right. When you read through tickets you get a deeper sense of improvements that the users are unable to think of. You not only solve immediate issues but prevent ones that were unforeseeable.

I know it’s not the most fun job and it can sometimes be frustrating, but reading through supports tickets will help you design a better product. Don’t ask your users what they want. Learn from your users so you can show them what they need.