What I've learned while working as a product designer at OOZOU
A wonderful transition from a typical UX designer into a full-fledged product design career.
Dynamic nature of a digital designer
Whether you’ve come from a graphic design background or just learning it from scratch out of your passion for a well-designed product, many of you who have been working in the industry in recent years would notice the staggering amount of changes that have happened in a couple of years' time.
During the year and a half that I have been working at OOZOU where we grew from several people into a medium-sized team (according to most of our tools’ subscription models...), here are my two cents on our newly-born field of work:
We do UX, UI, Interaction designs, and more
Those definitions might be considered too small of scope for some of our projects. We have been working with many clients throughout our time here that has way more than their fair share of a simple web app or a native mobile implementation. We go far and beyond the given requirements to really think about how the product could impact a user’s life.
We’ve always committed to giving out our ideas of how certain aspects of the product are to be strategised and implemented alongside our creation. An app is never the entire journey. Even minute details like the target users lifestyle and their prior exposure to the ecosystem of the product are taken into account when we do our research. We are pretty much addicted to good product design and want to create the best experience possible in and out of the digital world.
‘Geeked out’ is a common reaction when we hear about ‘the next big thing’ coming up in the design world. We are a really passionate group of designers who endorse a well-designed product. In doing so we are bound to create them ourselves.
Our team will go above and beyond to embrace new ideas and share them with each other while being really open to all our department’s input. The flat hierarchy of our team structure means that we are open to discussions and constructive criticism for self-improvements as well. At the end of the day, digital product design is still an emerging and very young profession for us to embark upon.
Creativity is not the whole picture
After a while, I learned that there are no limits to the boundless pool of designers’ creativity. It’s true we can pull up a reference image from someone’s portfolio and realise that it could be made prettier. However, that is not always the solution. More often than not, we find ourselves frustrated with a beautiful mobile app that you could stare at for days, but fails to function as a useful one.
The bottom line to all this is that you are not creating these products to satisfy your inner ego. There will be a diverse range of users engaging with it. They may have their own expectations and require these products to complete whatever tasks they set out to do. You end up not using an app that helps no one, has no quality apart from an ego-boosting ornament for its creators, and have it fail to function as a product that leaves a worthwhile impression.
Study the landscape
Every time we are to work on a project, it is never just about how it is used. There are multiple parties involved. And the process to navigate through various stages requires planning and forethought into how it will all fit in multiple parties with different pain points and needs.
This means collaborating with a project manager, marketing department, developers, and even your design team members for the teamwork qualities you will have to practice and master over time. For a product designer to know how to effectively refine good ideas into an even better design together is the goal we are driving to achieve here at OOZOU.
Traditional doesn’t mean optimal
Coming from a product company background, I later found out that conducting research for user’s needs and pain points doesn’t necessarily mean composing a spreadsheet of surveys and heatmap analytics to present and convince stakeholders. It means digesting raw information to retrieve facts from various viewpoints and opinions.
All research aims to help us become a more understanding listener to stakeholders’ ambitions and never just to blindly follow their requests. As Steve Jobs once said ‘Our job is to figure out what they're going to want before they do.’
Keep one’s feet on the ground
The things I find the hardest is to sometimes limit your eagerness to work. Even though it’s pure joy to keep doing what you love long after work hours and, every now and again, forcing yourself to get some sleep. You could and should look after your physical and mental health. Design work is designated as one of the most stressful jobs - always in a state of constant crunch. Designers rely on their logic and creativity. To be tired and burned out would do your career no good.
Be it the time when you have to settle for ‘just enough’, or when you have to adapt for a steep window of the production period, there are times to aim for perfection, and times where you have to stop and let go.
The times they are a-changin
I remember reading an article about how jobs in recent years are now blurring the lines between decades of professional careers and passionate hobbies. I find that to be somewhat true as I now have the privilege to be living a rewarding and fulfilling work-life balance here at OOZOU.
For a person mesmerised and in awe by the ever-changing world of tech and design, one could never ask for more than that. After all, god forbid I’m getting paid for my shenanigans to play on phones and computers all day long!