Core Components of the Role
- Design Direction & Design
- Lead the creation of great designs
- Account Management & Strategy
- Make sure projects and accounts are conducted successfully; great work, on time, on budget, happy designers, happy clients
- Make great designs that are built on concepts connected to business goals and user goals (whiteboards, paper, Sketch, Invision, Adobe…)
- Push boundaries and be proud when they go live.
- Bring a point of view and also collaborate selflessly.
- Coach, inspire, and elevate designers on their designs
- “Let’s step back and remind ourselves what the user goals are here… Walk me through your decisions that got you to this direction… See if you can recap the core differences between these three concept directions… When I look at this one through the eyes of our main persona, I’m still wondering if…”
- Coach designers on team and process
- “Let’s debrief that meeting. What went well, where we could improve the next time, outstanding risks that need to be addressed, and things that we’re most excited about?” And, “How’s everyone feeling? We just had a hard push to get to this meeting and we were all really excited about x and y, but when we got together with the client, we got a curve ball. How’s everyone feeling?” [Followed by pep talk about how great they are, or lessons learned, or how to be passionate without being attached (Zen), or not to worry about this or that because Craig and I will take care of that…]
- Guide clients
- “We’re excited to show you three concept directions today… In these first pages, we’re going to review briefly the context… this is the Eyes on the Prize reminding us that this is all about lead gen for Millennials… here’s the timeline… last time we met, we went over x, y, z… here’s a diagram that explains the progression from Flows to Wireframes to Visual Design… today, we’re still focused on Wireframes…”
- Update team and clients (or defer to a Project Manager for some projects)
- Weekly updates
- We’re in it together
- Team over individual – always.
- You’ll be supported in everything you do.
- You’ll support everyone else as much as you can.
- Underpromise and overdeliver
- There are many opportunities for this.
- Attention to detail
- Pride in the work – always. Deliberate practices and habits make it happen.
- Aspirational, holistic, best-in-class, and edgy
- If a developer is really comfortable with our recommendations, we likely haven’t done enough. We understand pragmatism. However, we start by pushing the boundaries.
- High standards (and help the team achieve them)
- Properly scoped work. Appropriate workloads. Rested teams = more creative.
- Coach, mentor, and support.
- Shield and protect.
- Push and encourage.
- Emotional safety to thrive. If we argue, it’s about the designs and not personal. We take the time to take care of what it means to collaborate and the value of relationships on a small team.
Facilitating and Trying New Things
- Creative ways to run kickoff meetings
- Better-than-brainstorming activities
- Requirements working sessions
- Internal design hackathons
- Share lunch-and-learn video with the team
- Do pushups
Client and Meeting Management
- Guide the creation of presentations
- Plan for client meetings
- Run client meetings
- Ensure the team and the clients know what’s going on
Account Management blending into Project Management
- “I’m writing the weekly Monday update for Acme Client. We’re planning to accomplish ___ and ___ by Thursday. Any reason we can’t do that?”
- “Everyone, here are your roles and responsibilities for this project. Please let me know if there’s anything we missed or anything you’d recommend we change.”
- “Everyone, here’s where we’re at with these four projects and what the week looks like. Here’s what the month looks like.”
- “Here’s an agenda for this upcoming meeting. These are the outcomes. Here’s who’s doing what. Here are the questions we’ll ask the client.”
- “We’ve got this meeting coming up. The goal of the meeting is ________. I’ve got some ideas of what the outcomes should be and who’s doing what, but I want to check with you guys to see what you recommend for ____ and if you have a preference of who’s doing what.”
- “The meeting is first thing Friday morning, but remember, we still have to rehearse, so we’ll wrap it up midday Thursday.”
- “So-and-so, I’m sending you my notes. Please incorporate them into yours and send a client-ready version to me by 4pm. We’ll respond and you’ll get it to the client by 5.”
If you’re interested in working with us, we’d love to hear from you (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please let us know why we’re a good fit. We’d love to see portfolio examples, too.