How redefining the “designer” helps you scale
At Figma, we believe building a great product is intrinsically linked to building a great team.
Who are the colleagues and partners you think of when you see the word “team”? For designers, it’s your fellow creators, researchers and UX writers, of course. Then there are the engineers and product managers who are directly involved in “making” products with you…
But in many companies the sphere of influence spreads much wider, with collaborative product development including stakeholders from across the business. We’re seeing it in our user base—roughly two thirds of Figma users identify as something other than a “designer”.
So, who are these team members and how can they help? We spoke to a few customers to understand how bringing more people into the process helps them scale design, and build better products.
At Canyon, a manufacturer of road, mountain and hybrid bikes based in Germany, making design decisions with colleagues outside of the “design” team helps deliver better products.
“An entire company benefits when stakeholders are familiar with the design process, from failing fast to iterating and testing. The customers benefit as well,” says Sarah Wilson-Reissmann, Canyon’s UX Team Lead. “We work very cross-functionally on our projects and launches so we always need to bring non-designers into our workflows and processes.”
Sarah says no one expects non-designers to start caring about padding and pixels. However, when the design team doesn’t own the entire design process, it can unlock points of view from people with different skillsets, insights and experiences.
Research from McKinsey and Co supports this. In a report last year, McKinsey looked at the impact a cross-functional organsational structure has on business performance. The company defined this approach as a structure in which “all project team members—including designers, marketeers, financiers, and project managers—had a common set of financial incentives around time, cost, revenue, and customer satisfaction.”
The research showed that companies that were “Excellent” at implementing such a structure overperformed in everything from revenue growth, profitability and innovation to employee satisfaction and user-centricity.
It’s no wonder designers themselves are looking to business leadership to get a picture of how well integrated companies are in their approach to collaborative product development. Our own research indicates that a commitment to design from the executive levels of a company can help hire designers in the first place.
DESIGN SUCCESS = BUSINESS SUCCESS
But support at an executive level can only go so far in placing design front and centre. There’s also an onus on designers to make the department more visible. Ensuring everyone’s voice is heard is one thing, but those outside of the design team have to be motivated to take an interest in design first. For that to happen, some design teams make a point of embedding themselves into other parts of the business, understanding the challenges of colleagues who may not previously have been involved in the design process and discussing ways they can help.
At Zalando, a German online retailer of shoes, fashion and beauty, product design is such a core part of the business that “design success is business success”. For design to be successful, designers must first understand where they can help.
“Most of our product design teams work in an embedded manner, directly with product and engineering stakeholders, business stakeholders, customers, with brand partners, with retailers, with customer services agents,” says Gerrit Kaiser, Director of Product Design at Zalando in our recent webinar - From browsing to “buy now” – the ROI of UX in e-commerce.
Getting a better understanding of the pain points and priorities of other departments helps improve visibility of the design team, and enables the design team to build better products.
GIVING EVERYONE A VOICE
Canyon and Zalando bring teams together using Figma. “We’d never be able to get the level of understanding and alignment from stakeholders if we didn’t bring them directly into our Figma files and to the screens,” says Sarah. “One example is with copywriting—it’s always more helpful for internal stakeholders to see copy in context, rather than in a spreadsheet. We’ll tag internal stakeholders in comments in Figma to ask for feedback and alignment on copy in the mockups directly.”
Beyond helping in the planning process and feeding back on designs, Canyon has trained stakeholders outside of design—such as those working in marketing—so they can create their own work using Figma.
It’s an approach that’s also working well at Whatagraph, a B2B SaaS platform that helps agencies and in-house teams automate reporting. “[Figma] has become an organic part of our feedback process,” says Agnė Kuniutytė, Product and Design Lead at Whatagraph. “It helps us scale, and it also helps us create an open culture of collaboration.”
Everyone who joins Whatagraph—no matter what role they’re in—gets instant access to Figma. This means everyone has a voice, but it also allows more people to take on the role of “designer”. For instance, having been set up with pre-approved templates from the design team, Whatagraph’s marketing team are able to quickly build and test landing pages for their inbound marketing efforts.
“The marketing team can create and update new pages as easily as they would using something like Wordpress. They don’t need to ask a designer to design it, or an engineer to build it,” says Agnė.
FROM IDEATION, TO CREATION, TO BUILDING DESIGNS
Whatagraph is one of a number of companies we’ve talked to recently about how they’re scaling design by bringing every step of the process—from ideation, to creation, to building designs—into Figma.
At these companies, Figma helps everyone participate in the design process. It’s helping them create an inclusive environment, with easy-to-use tools that accelerate workflows and help them build more quickly.
Read on to discover how they’re scaling design—whether it’s developing complex products, building simple web pages or even nurturing customer relationships.
- How Whatagraph scaled design by removing repetitive design decisions
- How PayFit has brought design to people that wouldn’t have traditionally thought of themselves as “designers”
- How Flat 101 brings UX designers, UI designers, project managers, copywriters and clients together using Figma
And watch our webinar to learn how N26 and Comdirect are scaling design using Figma:
This Forrester report shows how teams are using Figma to speed up their workflows, consolidate their design stack, and build better products.
See how Figma can help you scale design
Great design has the potential to differentiate your product and brand. But nothing great is made alone. Figma brings product teams together in a fast and more inclusive design workflow.
Get in touch to learn more about how Figma can help companies scale design.
We’ll cover how Figma can help:
- Bring every step of the design process—from ideation, to creation, to building designs—into one place
- Accelerate design workflows with shared company-wide design systems
- Foster inclusivity in the product team process with products that are web-based, accessible, and easy to use