Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s start with a brief introduction. What’s your previous work experience? And what do you do now?
Hello everyone; my name is Corey, and I’m a senior Product Designer & Strategist based in Charlotte. I started my career as a web/print designer, then quickly transitioned to a web and usability focus. The first web based application I designed for was for a small Healthcare IT company; this became my introduction into User Interface and User Experience design.
My UX career has provided me the opportunity to work for a wide range of organizations; ranging from really small startups to larger companies in both the healthcare and banking industries. These days, I’m a Sr. Product Designer working for Diligent; the world’s number one software for corporate governance and boards.
Why do you believe design management is right for you? Why management vs. individual contributor?
I’ve been designing products for almost two decades, at companies including CareerBuilder, Carfax, McKesson, Ally Bank and Diligent.
As my career has evolved from Web Designer, to UI/UX Designer and now Sr Product Designer, I was an individual contributor. In that time, I’ve gotten opportunities to lead projects and manage interns and contractors, but haven’t had an opportunity to make the leap to full-time management.
It feels like the time is right to make that transition. I’ll always love solving problems and being close to the work but I’m growing more excited by things like coaching, mentoring other designers, product strategy, facilitation, clarifying processes, and building teams. These are all things I look forward to getting to focus on as a Design Manager.
How would you describe your leadership style?
First, I would say that it depends on the needs and culture of the team or organization. Out of the 10 most common leadership styles that I’ve seen described, these are the ones that are the most natural fit for me:
Coaching Leadership - It’s very important for me to learn and recognize team member’s strength’s, weaknesses and motivations in an effort to help everyone to continue to learn and improve.
Visionary Leadership - Making an effort to establish strong bonds within the team and organization is a key to being an advocate for my team and an advocate for design throughout the company.
Servant Leadership - I bring a people first approach to leadership because I believe that when team members feel personally and professionally fulfilled, they can produce their best work.
Describe your experience collaborating with developers. In your opinion, what makes for the best collaboration between designers and developers?
Designers and developers should collaborate early and often in the design process. After the problem that’s being solved has been clearly defined, ideating through sketches and low fidelity wireframes can start to provide insight into potential solutions. Having members of the development team involved in some of those early discussions can help us move towards the solution that solves the problem within the current set of constraints.
Once we get to the handoff phase, there’s a variety of tools that have simplified this process in recent years. Creating detailed static style guides has been replaced with tools like Zeplin that allow designers to handoff designs and styleguides with accurate specs, assets, code snippets—automatically. This saves an amazing amount of time for both teams.
How would you define yourself as a designer?
The basis for my design approach has always been about putting information architecture first. How can I simplify a complex process and present the right information, at the right time; in order for a user to complete their task? The flow from screen to screen has to make sense. The amount of information and the hierarchy of information must be solved before focusing on the look and feel of a project.
What does your design process look like?
My design process is based on the Design Thinking approach (Empathize > Define > Ideate > Prototype > Test). More recently, I’ve been looking to spend more time on the Define phase. That means, getting key stakeholders together for a format kickoff meeting. Writing better and more detailed use cases and getting confirmation that we’re solving the right problem before we start to ideate.
Next, comes research which includes documenting our current solution; then creating a detailed competitive analysis. With the problem defined and the research in place, it’s time to move on to ideation. Starting with sketches and wireframes, then looking to get outside feedback to validate some of the potential approaches.
The best ideas will then be represented through high fidelity mockups and/or interactive prototypes for further testing, feedback and validation. Once a finalized design has been handed off to development, we’ll continue to test and receive feedback on the solution.
Recommend to us a design related book, then explain why you have recommended it.
I’ve had a chance to read the book and participate in a couple of modified design sprints. The premise of the book is to be able to take a small team, clear the schedule for a week, and rapidly progress from problem to tested solution using a proven step-by-step checklist.
In reality, it’s been difficult for me to get a team of stakeholders to clear their calendars for a full week but the modified version we did over the course of 2-3 days provided a lot of valuable insights. The book provided details for each of the 5 phases of a design sprint.
Knowing how to set up a room for group ideation, along with tips and tricks to help facilitate the sessions provided a great foundation for collaborating and problem solving as a group.
What are the design tools you use to create and communicate your design ideas?
Outside of pens and paper for sketching or a set of markers to whiteboard, the tools I use most heavily right now are Sketch, InVision and Zeplin. Axure is also an option if more detailed interactions need to be presented. The current state of design tools provides us all with an opportunity to constantly learn and use new things.