DesignDrivenNYC: growing the design group and design function in organizations
Posted on May 11th, 2016
05/10/2016 @WeWork, 115 West 18th Street, 2nd floor, NY
Three speakers spoke about their methods to integrate #design processes into all parts of product #development within retail-facing #financial firms. Betterment is a small, but rapidly growing company that is upsizing the design team. Citi and Learnvest are moving from a haphazard view of design to a single customer-centric design process throughout the organization:
- Billy Seabrook, Global Head of Design at Citi
- Abigail Gray, VP of Design at LearnVest
- Jaime Strollo, Lead Product Designer at Betterment
In the first presentation, Jamie Strollo @Betterment spoke about the challenges the UI/UX design team faces as the company goes from a small startup to 9 designers to doubling by year end. Originally Betterment had a flat organization, but now there are challenges: integration of new people and avoiding the bad dynamics of large meetings. Design is the only shared resource across the company, so there was duplication in work. Some strategies for tackling a new design challenge are:
- Kick off strong – ask what is the problem?, what is success?, how do we measure?, constraints? Initially concentrate on measuring the drop-off rate when evaluating a design change. But eventually shift to measuring the effect on profitability.
- Assumption gathering – for stakeholders, high-level activity, focus on fears and confidence, agree of riskiest assumptions, talk to customers to validate.
- Focus on Top 5’s
- Great for large groups, Iterations
- High-level activity
- Select only top 5 design needs
- Helps to Establish patterns
- Bridge the “delete” conversation
- Ideation / paper prototyping – better for smaller groups. Bring in other areas of expertise, let others have a voice
- Managing feedback – decide who are the decision makers, who to inform. No big UI critiques (a polished presentation gives a finished feeling and makes it hard to change), share often and early, speak about objectives and key results. Start conversation by what is the objective.
- Invest in relationships – customers and coworkers
Another challenge as the company grows is creating a method to give better estimates of the time to complete a design. This is hard since much of time goes into understanding the problem
In the second presentation, Billy Seabrook @Citi spoke about how Citi has created a single world-wide design team. The goal of better design is to move customer’s view of the bank from a transactional experience to a relational experience.
Starting six months ago, Billy has approached the following challenges within the bank:
- Organization – create agile groups adding individuals looking at strategies; research and usability studies; producers to keep on time and budget.
- Skills – Create a cohort of coaches to teach design thinking throughout the bank. Minimal viable product is at the intersection of business viability + customer desirability + technical feasibility; Partner with IDO to foster agile design thinking throughout all parts of the bank
- Applied Projects – Citi Fintech launched 6 months ago to launch the bank of the future: focus on mobile (mobile only), speed and simplicity (2 weeks of design thinking + 2 week dev sprints)
To foster common branding and look-and-feel world-wide, document templates are shared world-wide. Senior people in each location are in constant contact.
Coaches have backgrounds of policy or planning. The main thing is the mind set of being customer centric. In the past, most of the product design was outsourced, so design principals were inconsistent also there was a lack of consistency in evaluating designs.
The Design group reports to the COO of Fintech and is considered a cost center (despite its’ close affiliation with profit centers).
In the final presentation, Abigail Hart Gray @Learnvest (help financial planners create simple, effective, .., plans for retirement…) talked about the challenges of integrating a unified design process into product development at Northwestern Mutual (acquired Learnvest last year).
Abigail started with the question of a Defining Design Driven? She interviewed experienced design professionals and found commonalities:
- Team structure – be at the table when decision are made
- Process – iterative process
- Outcomes – but interviewees disagreed up whether good design resulted in products that were best for customer or best for business.
She talked about becoming a champion of design within the company:
- know the capabilities
- need to invest in design
- designers must educate their audience and sell their vision.
If you need to explain the interface, it stinks!
Steps to get started (data-driven, customer centric, outputs oriented):
- pick something with low stakes – no bottom line implications
- research well
- measure everything
- share results
As an aside on the measurement process, one needs to consider the possibility that customer behavior changes by knowing that they are being observed. The Hawthorne effect can elevate or suppress responses depending on prior customer engagement (friends&family vs. the general population), frequency of engagement (daily vs. occasional), etc.