Pawel ─ is a Product Designer living in London, United Kingdom. Building next big thing at Revolut. Feel free to contact anytime.

What I've learned in 2017

Feb 18, 2018 / 5 min read

We’re all living in a digital world where every swipe matter, where everything’s smart. Thanks to things like Machine Learning devices can now learn about your behaviors… Or propose you the best possible option to choose thanks to Artificial Intelligence.

Think about it and then answer this question… Do you really want to still work on static images while designing? Internet is no longer a place created with just HTML&CSS, it’s way more than that and because of it your design process shouldn’t start and end inside Photoshop. We need to evolve. Tools like Framer or Fuse are great place to start this evolution.

Back then, when I started using Framer I wasn’t 100% aware of what kind of tool it actually is and what are the possibilities but I was super excited when I was able to make my projects alive with just several lines of code… It was shocking back then and nowadays it’s still shocking for other designers who are seeing me — when I’m explaining the basics of Framer.

Most of the designers still work on static images, trying to explain developers how their solution is working but how do they actually know that without building even a simplest prototype? Without motion, without interacting with it? All those things are huge part of user experience (and you know that), you can’t just rely on your assumptions and imagination.

You’re not a wizard, Harry.

It’s probably the first, the most important lesson which I’ve learned (and I’m still doing it) for those past twelve months… My approach for what is my role as a Designer and what it should be… Our world is digital, alive and interactive. You designs also should be when you’re working on it. You need to interact with it, see how it’s “really” work without flexing your brain muscles. You can’t “feel” your solution without testing it.

Nice desk, Alex. / Alexandru Acea  ─  Unsplash

I have no idea if it’s going to work.

That’s closely related to what I’ve mentioned earlier. Most of the designers try to find right solutions and make their design decisions based on their own assumptions and through out those past twelve months I found out it shouldn’t work like that… Even if you have a huge knowledge and a lot of experience… It’s not enough to solve your product problems just on your own. Of course you can iterate your ideas but to finally choose the best one you need to test it and validate results.

Even if you’re going to do that with your colleagues you can get really great feedback. What’s even more important you can run tests with potential users to see how it works for them, and how they interact with your solutions. You’re designer — your job is to be wrong, that’s totally fine, but you have to keep in mind that your main responsibility is to translate all those wrong assumptions into right solutions thanks to consistent testing and iterations. Huge changes are coming, just take a look on the market — Framer, Fuse, Abstract, Figma or upcoming InVision Studio… It’s all about evolution.

It’s all about building and shipping, but...

This actually take me a while to understand. But let’s start from the beginning… I remember when I’ve started my career as a designer — I was super excited about it and I was like “look at me, I’m designer” and when it comes to building products I thought designers are the one who rule the world. I have no idea what building and shipping great products really mean and to be honest… I actually doesn’t really care about the development process, marketing or business. Everything was all about designing beautiful interfaces.

Right now when I think about it I laugh loud, it’s pretty funny and it’s no longer as embarrassing as it was but I can’t even imagine how stupid it probably was for all of those more-experienced designers and engineers working with me…

Framer helped me to realize it’s not all about “designing” but about building and shipping, what’s important — together with whole team. I think that’s exactly what makes a difference between good team and a great one. Inside a really good team you’ll find talented designers and engineers. But you know who you can find in a great team? Collaborators.

Designing and testing my solutions with coding helped me to stay closer to the developers and focus on what’s inside the hood. I’m not able to see a wider perspective of building a product.

Oleg Laptev  ─  Unsplash

...but not just for myself.

Last lesson seems to be quite obvious for every designer but I saw that when it comes to actual designing a lot of them are following a wrong scenario and results are not as good as they should.

I have quickly realized that programming is closely connected with the design process in the context of digital products. A good cooperation between designers and programmers not only allows to build the product faster but also better than ever before.

Few months after I’ve started building prototypes in Framer and testing my solutions I discovered major improvements in a quality of my work. I noticed that I no longer rely on my own feelings and assumptions and I keep in mind target-users and their expectations. Thanks to working with interactive prototypes, not just static images I was able to better understand the outcome of my work which was a key to building solutions perfectly tailored for users needs. I no longer had to worry if my design decision is going to work when it will be already shipped, I could (finally) test it and iterate while still working on it. Without bothering developers.

That’s not just a huge progress for my designing process but also a great opportunity for companies to save a lot of time, and of course a lot of money.

Year 2018 is a right one to start thinking about our role as a designers in a digital world, our workflow, tools we use and the way we build things in the process.