Facebook AR/VR Lead on Effective Product Design (Part 3)
While product design is a highly creative function, it’s important to establish some boundaries for exploration. In other words, you want to create some limits to how far designers can go to ensure that you stay on target. This ties back to knowing when a design is “done enough” and not getting bogged down with endless iterations.
Furthermore, the design process can be a grind and it’s common for designers to hit a wall. Usually, product design teams will not function at their highest potential when the inputs they’re receiving are not generating great ideas. I’ve found that the best way to find new inputs is to use tricks that we’ve all used when we just need to clear our heads. Simply put, you should head out for a walk (or if you prefer the shower for inspiration, that works too!).
While it may seem that you’re simply going through a change in scenery, there’s something much powerful at work. Your brain is actually taking in new inputs and making new connections. That said, it’s easy for product teams to give designers busy work that they think is creating new inputs. For example, there is little value in asking a designer to create several new revs on a single button or feature. In other words, there needs to be a compelling product design reason to pursue a new project or idea.
As you can tell, product design isn’t a function of being suddenly struck by a great idea or an amazing new design.
In reality, the design process is grinding work that requires a ton of trial and error. Fortunately, product designers have access to amazing tools that enhance our ability to produce great work more efficiently. However, this should not suggest that designers’ jobs are now easier and less complicated because we have amazing tools. Ultimately, designers still need to put in the work to create at their fullest potential.
In summary, designers are craftspeople who care deeply about the quality of their work. I’m sure you’re aware of the common archetype of designers who are comically obsessive about every little detail. As a result, there can be friction when product managers and designers interact with one another about a specific rev or proposed change. However, it’s important for product managers to understand the value of these obsessive tendencies. For example, the notifications globe on Facebook shows the continents that align with each user’s location. While this subtle feature is almost unnoticeable, it connects with users in a powerful way by presenting the globe as they see it in their part of the world.
Simply put, product teams should work with designers to fully embrace the craft that goes into great design. By doing so, you’ll be able to produce higher quality work and manage your design team more effectively.
About the speaker
Jon Lax is the Head of AR/VR Design at Facebook - working on developing interactive experiences within the platform. Prior to joining Facebook, Jon co-founded Teehan+Lax - a digital product agency in Toronto. Jon is a graduate of the University of King's College and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.