5 Things I’ve Learned Working in a Start-Up

The journey continues

I feel as though I’m starting to reap the rewards of the foundations I’ve been building over the last few months in my Product Management / UX Design role at Konsileo. So what have I learned so far?

1. Establishing a process is an iterative process

When I first joined the start-up there was no UX, Product Management or Development process in place. They hadn’t needed one before! However, our developers were due to kick-off on Sprint 1 to build our MVP so the pressure was on.

I naively thought I could walk in and simply apply the exact process I’d been taught at General Assembly. Although it provided a wonderful foundation, I was now in the real world working on an agile project… the process had to be adapted.

I’ve also realised it how vital it is that the process works for everyone on the team. If it doesn’t, we risk the sprint collapsing and our release plan to fail. To mitigate this, after each two-week sprint we hold a retrospective meeting with the developers, testers and myself to discuss what went well, what didn’t go well and how we could improve next time. It proves invaluable as issues that I might not be aware of can be brought to my attention and resolved. We tweak each sprint based on feedback and suggestions and together we’re continually improving and strengthening our process.

2. Sketch, sketch, sketch!

When I started designing the Konsileo app, I would draw a couple of very quick sketches in my notepad before turning them into hi-fi wireframes.

When testing these hi-fi designs with users, I discovered I needed to make significant changes to the designs. I also became frustrated when users focused on details that were not meant to form part of the testing e.g. “Our policy numbers are letters and numbers, not just letters”. (I don’t care what a policy number looks like, I just need to know if you need to see it and whether it make sense to place it there on the screen!)

I’m not precious about my designs but I was annoyed at myself for wasting time making pain-staking hi-fi wireframes that had to be scrapped.

Now I spend much more time drawing in my notepad. Sketching with pen and paper so quick and it’s an easy way to validate certain decisions or the flow of the app e.g. what elements should form the dashboard. Showing these sketches to stakeholders more often is saving me a lot of time and has the added benefit that rough sketches are already imperfect so users focus less on the minute details and more on the concept and journey through the screens.

3. Benefits of being part of a diverse team

I’ve grown to really appreciate the diversity of my small but eclectic team. It’s made up of people with big personalities, contrasting skills and varying backgrounds.

At first I struggled to find synergy… but on reflection I think it’s something that just takes a bit of time. It’s important to understand different working styles and be able to adapt in certain situations in order to get the best out of your team.

We couldn’t build this product if we were all the same type of person — we need differing opinions and expertise to ensure we cover all aspects of the development and growth of our product and the company.

I’ve learned an awful lot from the people around me and my eyes have been opened to new ways of looking at or approaching things.

4. Everything is a remix

We all take inspiration from things that are already out there — nothing is truly original. In fact, there’s a great video about it online:

https://vimeo.com/139094998

I want the Konsileo app to meet with common user conventions so that it feels intuitive to use and familiar. When designing certain elements such as a communication log, input forms or search results screens, I’ve been looking to other companies and their websites and apps so see how they’ve tackled the same complexities in design. In particular, I’ve taken inspiration from companies who are celebrated for their excellent user experiences such as the new Salesforce design, Mailchimp, Xero and HiOscar.

5. Frequently read industry-related articles

Being in a UX / Product team of 1 can be a little lonely at times and means I don’t get the benefits of working in a larger UX team such as learning from more senior designers or a support network to bounce my ideas off. So each day I try to read at least one industry-related article. It could be InsurTech news, a UX blog, Product Management tips… anything that I feel is interesting, relevant and will broaden my knowledge.

I’ve downloaded Pocket, an awesome little app which allows me to save articles and read them on my commute to and from work. I’ll tweet or recommend any that particularly stand out to me. I’ve found it’s really paid off! I know much more about current trends, news and differing opinions of influencers and I feel my designs are improving because of it.


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