Our Design Manifesto
These high-level principles guide our design culture, our design decisions, and our hiring decisions.
When I was first brought onto the product team, I created a goal for myself — to change our culture into a design-driven one. The most glaring misconception I knew I needed to address was the misconception by others that design is not only something to be done at the end, once decisions have been made, in order to make those decisions look aesthetically pleasing. I had to show why design was critical to the decision-making process within product development, prove why it was valuable to involve design early and often, and communicate my insights and decisions effectively.
But initially I was overwhelmed — being invited to every meeting, being asked to make every decision, and having no maker time to let creativity flow. I’m sure any designer can sympathize that when you get caught up in the weeds deciding on details or when you’re context-switching all the time, it’s hard to remember why you’re making each decision in the first place.
So to bring some calm to the storm, I wrote four principles to align our team and bring greater transparency to my process to my colleagues. These eventually evolved into our design manifesto, principles that guide our culture, our design decisions, and our hiring decisions.
1. Design is how it works (for the user), not only how it looks
No matter how beautiful the visual design is, if it fails to help our users achieve their goals, it’s bad design. Great design is intuitive and empowers our users to be better at their jobs — better at staying on top of their work while traveling, better at preparing for meetings and influencing the right people, and better at demonstrating their ROI to their peers and senior leadership.
2. Start with the user, finish with R&D
Everything we do is grounded in user insights, but we don’t let our users dictate our product roadmap. We don’t build the first solution our users ask for because our users are only responsible for telling us the problem and the outcome they want to achieve — we are responsible for designing the solution that will address the problem and achieve the desired outcome. Still, making sure the user feels heard is important and is a responsibility shared by the product team (product managers and product designers) and every team that interfaces with users or potential users (customer success, business development, marketing, finance, etc).
3. Test early and often
We prototype whenever possible, and respond to feedback accordingly. We are humble and willing to not get married to the first solution we dream up. If something may confuse the user, we test before we ship, and if something continues to confuse the user, we are willing to constantly iterate. A commitment to integrating prototyping into the product design cycle is shared by design, engineering, and product leads. A commitment to integrating prototyping into the marketing design cycle is shared by marketing managers, designers, and developers.
4. We are premium but accessible, a luxury brand that anyone can use
Users can immediately recognize that we are a company driven by hardcore engineering and that our product is premium and unparalleled compared to everything else on the market, yet they also believe that what we create is something they can access and use. The marketing design team, the product design team, and the talent team are aligned on our branding as a company, as a product, and as an employer.
What principles guide your team’s product development process? I’d love to hear them. If these resonate with you, we’re hiring.