Yeah, it’s about Design, of course, and a bit of myself.

“Stay hungry, stay foolish” — Steve Jobs.

Greetings, fellow seekers of truth! This is my first post here, on Medium, and first blog post in my entire life, wow. I was always interested in writing, cuz’ words actually matter, you know.

Well then, let’s make something clear. Some of you, oh wait, all of you may wonder who am I and why am I writing. I don’t know, actually. But I like to express my thoughts via texts.

Straight to the point, I’m a 23-year old who was an at Foxout. So this is, basically, an online ticketing platform for cinemas, theaters, sports events, etc. And you may wonder, where is it located, I bet you do. I’ll tell you, it’s in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Google it and you’ll be definitely surprised, yep.

To be honest, I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering. You may ask me ”but why Product Design”? I love it, but at the same time, I love coding as well.

However, I want to be a professional Product Designer who has abilities in Front-End programming (yeah, I do coding occasionally) in the next two or three years, at the same time gathering experience and skills in coding. Yeah, and after that, I am planning to be a Full-Stack Developer with perfect Design skills, cuz’ I believe this is a good skill stack for the future.

I worked at Foxout for nearly 3 months and I several crucial things that I’m about to write. Hope you will find it useful or at least this won’t waste your time. So here we go.

Communication Matters

Well, you may think “Oh Lord, seriously?” but let me tell you what. That’s not exactly a usual chatting you face in a daily life, this is something bigger than just a “communication”. The level of understanding between the Designer and Developer (doesn’t really matter Front-End or Back-End) is vital. You have to be aware of Developer’s skills, interests, and vision of a product.

Fortunately, I had common interests with Front-End Developer and this helped me a lot. In fact, he has a very good sense of Design and, basically, receiving positive feedback really motivated me and made me proud of what I did.

Apart from that, working closely to a Developer team taught me how the website is actually built, its architecture and tools. But we’ll focus on it later on.

But what about “usual communication”? Oh, this is where it gets interesting. So, the Foxout is a , where the agile environment (SCRUM) takes place. Thus, there is no such thing as ”boss” or the person, who has more influence than you. Everybody is equal and this is truly great.

Going out for a lunch or dinner together with colleagues made the working environment very friendly. You can discuss everything you are interested in and they will always support the conversation, even trying to make a joke out of you or do something stupid. You literally can’t feel yourself awkward, cuz’ colleagues won’t make you think that way.

Yeah, there is such thing as ”CEO”, however, she (yep, woman) won’t make you feel sad, trying to cheer you up or give some advice. And, yes, they always support outstanding ideas and ambitions.

Time Management is everything

Do you plan your day/week/month ahead? I mean, not in your mind, but using a notebook or a laptop. This actually makes a lot of sense. Check it out, you’ll be shocked by how much influence those notes can bring to your productivity and daily lifestyle.

While attending SCRUM meetings I noticed that every team member had its own notebook to make a status report. Moreover, during those meetings, all team members proposed some ideas of how to overcome the constraints faced during last week.

In the beginning, while receiving tasks I didn’t make notes to my book or laptop, relying on my memory and sense of responsibility. However, I did forget some points and felt myself bad, but, eventually, I got used to making notes of every single change being suggested. And this improved my time management skills to a whole new level.

Alongside with that, ”note-making” really simplifies your planning as well as demonstrates the status of your task while reviewing it at the end of the day. Try it out, seriously.

“The most efficient way to live reasonably is to make a plan of a day every morning and examine the results obtained every night” — Alexis Carrel.

Still here? Perfect.

Professional skills aren’t essential at some point

This is what surprised me the most. I thought that being a professional with perfect skill stack will really make me a ”wanted” person, however, my theories were broken apart into small pieces while working at Foxout. And here is why.

At the beginning I was just gathering information and adapting to a workflow of the company, constantly improving my professional skills and trying to get along with colleagues. I thought it will be useful for them to be a versatile person, simultaneously designing and coding, however, eventually I realized it is better to be a more social-friendly Junior Designer rather than being a Senior Designer sociopath.

It is really harder to develop your soft skills rather than technical. You can be a very good Developer/Designer, but does it really make sense if you are an inadequate and closed person? I guess not.

In contrast, being a social-friendly and outgoing individual significantly increases your chances to be hired or at least be interested. Yes, you should have technical skills but it doesn’t matter how good they are. You always can develop them easily, in comparison to soft skills.

“Soft skills are the hard skills” — Amy Edmondson.

Seriously, do not forget that.

Prototyping does make a lot of sense

To begin with, let’s just define what ”prototype” means.

A prototype is a physical representation of your product idea. It can be a very simple model made of cardboard or a very sophisticated one made almost identical to a real product by using advanced technologies.

Well, in my case it was an iOS Application. Honestly speaking, I didn’t make prototypes of every single feature being implemented, cuz’ I really thought I would make it at the end, however, early stage prototyping helped me to clarify whether I did it right or not. Here are some points being discovered:

  • A better understanding of the design and how it works. Prototyping not only demonstrates strong visualization of the product, but it also helps Designers easily comprehend of what they are designing, why and who they are designing it for.
  • Early feedback. One of the most crucial aspects of product development is to gather feedback. Yeah, prototyping with all core functionalities helps Designers and Developers gather reviews even at early stage of development — whether adding new features or remastering product’s components.
  • Early changes save time and cost. Changes towards the end would mean not just radical restructuring but also more speculation and rework. I mean, it’s much better to redo some parts at the beginning rather than changing something at the end of product development. Seriously, who would do that? Hence, be prepared.

All in all, I do recommend you start prototyping every little change being offered or implemented. This will save you lots of money and, especially, time.

Technology can make or break your product

It’s no surprise that technology and skill stack also plays a crucial part in every product. You may think this is very easy to build a website with online payments that should be 100% secure for transactions, aren’t you?

But have you ever wondered how Developers choose the appropriate technologies, analyzing and identifying their own benefits and drawbacks? That’s a really complex process that needs a very detailed attention to even a minor issue or incompatibility. Cuz’ in the future, when the whole system is built, that single element can ruin everything you worked so hard for.

Well, close collaboration with Devs gave me real product experience and the backbone of the system. I was introduced to technologies, how those technologies contribute to each other and why they chose them. Also, I heard stories of how they were choosing the right stack and how they met deadlines at the start of their career, and I realized you have to finish everything on time, of course.

It was really easy for me to comprehend the information and workflow process of Development team, I even helped them, cuz’ as you remember, I got my Bachelor’s in Software Engineering. However, if you are out of programming, do read articles about it and be kind to Developers, they have a tough life, tho.

Yeah, we had some minor payment malfunctions couple of months ago and this is where technology can, actually, break your product or make it worse. Despite this, everything’s working pretty fine at a current state.

Conclusion

Still reading this? Wow, that’s really cool. We are almost done.

So to conclude everything, it really does matter of who you actually are. Not in terms of your technical skills, but in terms of your personality. As I mentioned, it’s better to be a socially outgoing person with a bunch of ideas and ambitions but without rich technical skills, rather than being sociopathic professional. It is easier to evolve your technical skills rather than soft ones.

And do not forget about time management, get everything planned and have a ”Plan B” in case if everything is messed up. Do mind of your team’s ambitions, ideas, skills, and preferences. If you are working close to Developers team (like me), be aware of their preferences and do not make their life even harder.



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