We Give Meaning to Products - Design Flow at Netguru: the Approach

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Bartek Białek

Dec 18, 2015 • 8 min read

What is the reason for designing? We design in order to achieve the maximum benefit with the optimum management of limited time and financial resources.

Both designers and managers working on a project have to solve problems and decide where they should allocate their resources.

Some time ago I explained what to expect from a designer, described what you pay for when hiring one and gave some advice on how to talk to them. Now the time has come to focus on some of the crucial elements involved in design flow at Netguru.

Here at Netguru we design the first minimum viable products for startups, as well as complex e-commerce solutions and sophisticated products for big corporations. Yes, our designers need to be extremely versatile and up-to-date with the latest trends in designing user interfaces. But what we find extraordinarily useful is the set of expectations that every product they design should meet at all costs, because by designing consciously we give meaning to products.

A well-designed product should:

  • be simple, understandable and intentional - All designers should always remember that it’s very difficult to change users’ habits. Once we teach them something, it will be difficult to modify this later on. If we create something simple for the users which requires less involvement during the design phase itself, we can save our client’s money that would otherwise end up being spent on various kinds of ‘incentives” further down the line.

  • reward the effort - this should minimize number of actions the user is forced to perform and reward him/her for taking the time out to use the app. Any obvious bugs is bound to discourage the user. The product needs to hit the spot!

  • have a clear function - a product should be focused and self explanatory. We can teach the user what to expect from certain actions. The product should help users avoid mistakes (for example, give feedback or help for actions). More than anything, using the application should be pain-free!

  • delight and excite - the product should engage the user both visually and functionally by exceeding his/her expectations and by forgiving mistakes (for example, adding an auto-correct feature so that the user doesn’t have to bother). We need to focus on our users’ most frequent behavioural patterns and try to anticipate them.

  • help to achieve business goals - and these goals should be achievable and measurable, for example increasing conversion rates or encouraging people to sing up for a newsletter.

  • tell a story - no more boring products.

Not only do we always observe these rules, but we also have to be up-to-date with the latest trends in designing to create truly state-of-the-art products. What trends do we follow at Netguru?

Design trends:

  • mobile first (can be observed in the Facebook and Google strategy) - only a small number of people have permanent access to a computer or the Internet (even in the USA 40% of people don’t own their own computer), and in the developing world the Internet is not as efficient so they tend to rely on their mobiles,
  • minimalism and anticipation - minimalism doesn’t equate to simplicity, although it’s crucial for the product to remain simple - sometimes less (options) is more,
  • aesthetics - flat and material design. We can observe that companies want to have well designed, aesthetic products . Trends tend to evolve quickly, but some go to far - underlined links are passé, buttons don’t look like buttons anymore, flat 2.0 has emerged,
  • new interfaces - augumented reality, virtual reality, watches, glasses or the revival of television. More and more people are using browsers on their PS4s and XOnes,
  • user emancipation - users should not be perceived as dummies anymore,

We don’t even start thinking about the product before we’ve got all these points solid in our minds. And what happens when we meet a new client?

4 phases of design flow at Netguru:

  • research and discovery - first we have to understand who and what we are dealing with. We use the client’s own data or run appropriate tests and experiments on our team instead. We organize scoping sessions, design sprints and carry out market research.
  • ideation - after gathering some background knowledge, we try to come up with something that fits. We create solutions that may work - it’s a phase during which each of us generates a lot of ideas. We draw on paper, create storyboards, wireframes, draw in Photoshop and Sketch and we give consistent feedback on each other’s work. We ask around for opinions, without focusing exclusively on the designers who are already involved in the project. Even asking a random person for their opinion is better than not asking anyone at all. Feedback helps us avoid mistakes.
  • production - we create a prototype which can be clicked through and tested. We design style guides and mockups as well as providing all the files required to implement the project.
  • iteration until it works - we improve, improve and improve again, ideally in Invision which helps us manage all iterations and comments on a project during the development process. As designers we stay in touch with the clients all the time. We organize consulting, collect feedback and also dish out advice during the whole duration of the project because we know that the process of creating an app needs consistent focus and consultation. It’s worth asking questions! We’re aware of the fact that it’s not us that we create products for; it’s the users. The order of these processes can be shuffled around as creativity doesn’t follow a fixed plan.

Do you have an idea that you want to turn into a great product? Don’t hesitate to drop us a line!

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Bartek Białek

Product Design Director at Netguru
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