6 Ways to Ensure Product Design Generates Project ROI

Carlos Oliveira02/29/2024

6 Ways to Ensure Product Design Generates Project ROI

In today's landscape of web and mobile software development, Product Design plays a crucial role in determining the success of a product.

Competition is fierce, prompting users to become more and more demanding. They expect software applications to be intuitive, visually appealing, and easy to use.

This is where Product Design comes into play. It helps you identify exactly what the user wants and can provide a roadmap to achieving it - through desirable features, appealing designs, and more. And if you can’t address the needs of your users, they won’t stick around for long.

Plus, a well-designed product not only enhances the User Experience but also fosters a strong brand identity and builds trust among users.

A good example of that is in Guild, a platform for building professional communities where participants can connect, communicate, and collaborate. They managed to bolster the success of the app by leveraging Product Design in profound ways - aligning different departments, avoiding feature creep, and more.

And we talked about just that during our live event “Driving Innovative Product Development with Design”.

Table of Contents

  1. Who was there?
  2. Six Lessons: Driving Innovative Product Development with Design
    1. Cross-team alignment is essential
    2. rusting product designers can bring benefits
    3. Product Design does not mean only UX/UI
    4. Avoid feature creep
    5. Product Design happens anyway, so it’s better to have a dedicated role
    6. Customers know the importance of product design
  3. Over To You

Below, we’ll highlight six lessons from the event. But you can also watch it in full right now below or on our YouTube channel.

The live event was part of our Digital Product Growth series. You might also like:

5 Lessons Learned from Transforming a Startup Into an Enterprise-Grade Product - the Cooleaf’s Journey

Who was there?

  • Gregor Young, Chief Executive Officer of Guild, a platform for building professional communities where participants can connect, communicate, and collaborate.
  • Agnieszka Kozłowska, a Senior Product Designer at Monterail who has worked with Guild for over one year. A Product Designer with over 7 years of experience in the IT industry, she has a background in Psychology and an ongoing PhD in the same field.
  • Krzysztof Kaiser, Head of Product Design at Monterail and also a mentor and educator focusing on teaching the principles of design and UX.

Six Lessons: Driving Innovative Product Development with Design

1. Cross-team alignment is essential

Effective cross-team alignment is crucial for generating project ROI through product design. That might seem obvious, but implementing it is not often straightforward.

Guild was facing challenges in team communication due to many factors, ranging from having a remote team to the lack of clarity and ownership in tasks.

Together with Monterail, they came up with the Deep Dives. These regular meetings bring together key stakeholders, including the development team, project manager, designer, and CEO. They happen typically once a month or every two months and focus on addressing two or three major problems or challenges derived from the business roadmap.

These Deep Dives involve different workshop activities depending on the scope of the problem and are separate from the regular meetings - such as daily stand-ups and retrospectives, which take place as usual.

“The best part about the Deep Dives is that the whole team is present, so we are able to explore and analyze all of these problems from just different angles, taking into account the different perspectives because we are all experts in different fields of product development.”

agnieszka-kozlowska  Agnieszka Kozłowska Senior Product Designer
at Monterail

Takeaway: Ensure stakeholders are aligned, but remember good communication requires structure. For example, meetings should have clear and actionable goals, ensuring time spent together is productive and the task list is up-to-date.

Also read: Product Design Process: Discovery Phase

2. Trusting product designers can bring benefits

Trusting team members with specific skills, such as product designers, and embracing their expertise can bring significant benefits to an organization - and, by extension, to every project.

It sounds simple, but why doesn’t every business do it? Gregor points out a possible explanation: it involves relinquishing control. And that can be challenging for any business owner.

Although it may be tempting to provide specific instructions and demand immediate results, true excellence is achieved by leveraging the skills, capabilities, and breadth of knowledge within the team.

“As anyone matures and becomes more senior in their career, they learn that you can't do everything. The best thing you can do is surround yourself with brilliant, talented people and find ways to get the best out of them. A big part of that is relinquishing control, trusting in the skills and abilities of the people around you, stopping yourself from trying to go too far down the solution path.”

GregorYoung_event  Gregor Young CEO of Guild

Simply stating what needs to be done and how it should look may expedite the process, but it compromises the potential for the best result. By trusting capable members from different teams, organizations unlock their full potential, leading to innovative and impactful solutions that surpass expectations.

“There's a discipline in articulating problems, not articulating solutions, and appreciating and valuing the quality that you'll get," says Gregor.

Takeaway: To get the best results in Product Design, it’s necessary to not only onboard great talent but also to trust them as experts in their areas. Only then you are able to truly leverage the skills of your team.

3. Product Design does not mean only UX/UI

Thinking of Product Design as only User Experience or User Interface tasks limits its potential.

The holistic approach discussed in the live event emphasizes the role of product designers in shaping the overall user experience and collaborating closely with the client and development team in ways that go way beyond button layouts.

By working closely with the entire team and considering user needs, business goals, and technical considerations, product designers play a crucial role in shaping the direction (and success) of the product. They ensure a comprehensive approach that goes beyond aesthetics, focusing on delivering a seamless and valuable user experience.

But what does that mean in terms of team composition? So Product Designers shouldn’t work with UI? Not quite, it all depends on factors such as team size and the complexity of the issue. The important aspect is to understand they are related, but separate.

“Some people might think that Product Design is mostly about the visual part, and that's not the case. Product Design basically focuses on the entire path, from the first concept of the product to launch. So, it requires identifying user needs, balancing them with the business needs, of course, and checking for technical feasibility.”

agnieszka-kozlowska  Agnieszka Kozłowska Senior Product Designer
at Monterail

Learn how Product Design can have a huge impact on any project:

Product Design Services for Web And Mobile Apps · Monterail

Takeaway: Product Design has tools to impact a product’s strategy at strategic levels and has a direct impact on product reception and even on the company bottom line, so it shouldn’t be fit into small boxes such as UI or UX.

4. Avoid feature creep

Feature creep, or the accumulation of app features without a clear understanding or plan behind it, is risky and should be addressed as soon as possible, as it can snowball very quickly. But how?

By always looking at the product holistically and considering the user's needs.

In practice, Guild was able to prevent feature creep by taking a step back when faced with a challenging new user demand. Instead of creating an all-new feature to address it (which could risk bloating the app’s experience), they repurposed an older, underutilized feature.

“Now, instead of having two features, with one of them not really being used, and generally greater complexity, we've got one feature that's used a lot.”

GregorYoung_event  Gregor Young CEO of Guild

By avoiding the temptation to add new features without careful evaluation, businesses can maintain a more streamlined, user-centric, and even cheaper product.

Takeaway: Simply reacting to needs by adding features can work at the moment, but the decision might take its toll pretty soon. On the other hand, by coming up with a long-term plan for your product, you will be better equipped to deal with immediate requirements.

5. Product Design happens anyway, so it’s better to have a dedicated role

Creating a web product involves a series of Product Design-related activities, from translating user needs into visual interfaces to conducting UX interviews or balancing the business needs with the app usability. And these tasks end up being done one way or the other.

“When you don't have a product designer in your team, everyone's doing it. Say you have a product manager and some software developers. The product is going to be designed between those people. But none of them are really responsible for the design”

GregorYoung_event  Gregor Young CEO of Guild

This lack of specificity can lead to inefficiencies and potential gaps in the design process.

Guild had one experience of leaving such activities to a Frontend developer. That resulted in a lack of focus and decreased productivity: the same person had to deal with design-domain tasks while writing code.

Having a dedicated product designer (or, in smaller teams, a combined position) ensures that design expertise is concentrated in a single role, allowing other team members to focus on their respective areas of specialization.

Takeaway: Product Design is a necessary part of product development. Not having a person (be it full-time or part-time) responsible for it will mean no one is. The result: improvised and unscalable product roadmap and visuals along with an uncertainty of how the users are interacting with the product and what they are missing.

6. Customers know the importance of product design

Customers may not be able to express it this way, but their experience and satisfaction with the user interface play a crucial role in their overall perception of a product. In other words, they might know what Product Design is, but they surely feel it while using an app.

Therefore, having a competent product designer who pays attention to user interactions is essential to ensure that the design balances the needs of both the business and the user.

Customers' engagement and continued usage of a product heavily rely on their experience while interacting with it. Even if a product has advanced functionality or a compelling value proposition, if the user interface is not intuitive or enjoyable, customers are more likely to abandon it.

This underscores the significance of having someone dedicated to product design, as they can effectively consider and address the user experience aspects.

By focusing on aspects like ease of use, intuitive navigation, and pleasant aesthetics, a skilled product designer can create a design that resonates with customers and keeps them engaged with the product.

“It doesn't matter how cool the functionality is in the background, it doesn't matter how good the proposition is - if the users don't like clicking and swiping on the app, they're just going to stop using it, right? So it's so important that you have somebody who is competent, who is actually thinking about these aspects and taking them seriously and asking questions and making sure that all the product management and software development that we do, that we're actually looking after what the user wants.”

GregorYoung_event  Gregor Young CEO of Guild

Takeaway: Users abandon software that is hard to use or that doesn’t solve their problems. In other words, they understand Product Design even if they can’t explain it. The best way to deal with this challenge is by having someone on board focused on addressing it,

Over To You

These are some of the insights our team and our partner shared. There’s a lot more content on the live event and we encourage you to watch the whole episode to learn more. Or head to our Product Design page to learn more about the many ways it can support your business.

If you’d like to learn even more about how, together with Guild, we crafted a platform now used by thousands of users, don’t miss out on the case study below:

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Carlos Oliveira