Here’s How You Scale A Design Team

It’s possible to build a great design team without compromising on innovation.

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Koen Bok

May 17, 2018

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Today, design is in the limelight and for good reason. As the world builds more and more products, the dependency on designers is growing. Yet almost every fast growing company is also constrained by design. That often leaves design departments with two choices: lower the bar for hiring—which radically changes the company’s design culture—or find ways to level up their existing team.

At Framer we believe in option two.

Tools are skills are tools.

There are myriad of ways to improve a design team. Most revolve around the idea that giving smart people the right tools usually results in the most efficient workflow and highest quality output. Here are a few ways to impact those crucial elements:

Improve the process through higher-fidelity ideas, for cheap.

Early ideas are fragile, even if they have strong potential. As ideas become more interactive, networked, and immersive, they also become harder to communicate. In such a scenario, it’s possible for early feedback to kill a misunderstood idea. Designers today need the tools and knowhow to be able to quickly express complex ideas in a way that helps them uncover new approaches, augmented by a high-quality feedback cycle.

Design for the actual output; get closer to code.

Design and design tools today are still heavily defined by a print mindset. We don’t design for print, we design for screens. Screens respond, interact, and animate. Great design means designing the whole experience. The modern fabric of design is code, so understanding the underlying parts will make you a better designer, especially in the way you grasp both your limitations and possibilities.

Involve a diverse group earlier.

As designers get better at expressing ideas throughout the entire design cycle, more people can contribute feedback and expertise. Input from people with a more diverse background provides a natural tendency toward more accessible and inclusive design choices.

Breed innovation by empowering experimentation.

The most efficient way to get to new and groundbreaking product ideas is through discovery. If your team empowers a culture of tinkering over rote execution, you’ll greatly increase your output of innovative ideas. As a bonus this makes it easier to retain the best people, as they tend to enjoy this type of problem-solving.

Rethink SF Rethink SF
(From left to right) Zach Johnston (Dropbox), Shana Hu (Pinterest) and Jeff Smith (Facebook) share how their companies are using Framer to scale design teams.

Get with a program.

While not everyone needs to invest in the exact same software, we all need to understand that there is a better way to design for new paradigms and platforms. Today’s top companies are already leading the charge by investing in the people and processes that make learning a part of the culture. But not every company is equipped to begin the process on their own. That’s where we come in.

At Framer, we’ve put together a cross-collaborative team to spearhead these efforts. The Design Education team focuses on creating tailored programs for teams of all sizes. We’ve found that designers have the best chance for success if they figure out early how to use high-fidelity prototyping within their existing team workflow. This, coupled with our library of best practices from the top product teams in the world, makes for a powerful way to quickly integrate Framer into the design cycle. Ask us about our tailored design education programs.

Join us.

And if you are really interested in Design Education, you should join us. We are looking for more design heroes who can create change through education. You will need to have a technical design background, believe that design is changing, and enjoy teaching people and building communities. Interested? See the full job description and apply here.

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