What are the good habits of product designers?

Product designers from Google, Mettrr, TextMe, RMS, Opendoor, Salesforce and other companies explained.

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Marcus Aurelius Bothsa

Marcus Aurelius Bothsa

Lead Interaction Designer at Google

Good product designers are curious. Curiosity is a tricky one. For someone to be a truly curious designer, they need to have two separate lenses or mindsets.

  1. A learning mindset and

  2. A problem solving mindset

It is unequivocally important to have both mindsets and here’s why. Let’s start with the learning mindset. This helps a designer go deep, and gain rationale fit for solving design problems. But without truly applying this knowledge practically on real world problems, it’s extremely difficult to grow and relate that knowledge to the current world’s context. On the other hand, some designers have a problem solving mindset from the get-go. The ability to solve problems is an important fundamental trait but, just solving problems quickly, without paying attention to solution quality isn’t helpful. This simply doesn’t cut it, in terms of great design.

Hence it’s really important as a young designer —or any designer really— to work on an array of projects and apply design thinking broadly and deeply. Gaining a strong base, and periodically adding to it helps a designer grow and stay curious. As the knowledge improves, the problem solving ability gets tighter. Both the skills are therefore, interdependent. Here’s a few habits that supplement the good designer mindset.

Communicate intent — Ability to communicate the reason behind designs and presentations, quantitatively and/or qualitatively.

Collaborate and follow up — Over communication and level setting with the team and stakeholders at a regular cadence.

Feedback — gathering more feedback at the early stage when designs aren’t polished.

Prioritize tasks and projects — Prioritizing projects and individual deliverables.

Organize — Organizing work and time.

Discipline — Finally, a disciplined designer is one who sees things through to the end, and includes all the right people in this journey. Completion is not only an important trait for a designer, but a great trait to live by.

Marta Moskwa

Marta Moskwa

Product Designer at Mettrr

  1. Be a good observer – use your time as productively as you can. I usually look at how people interact with their devices during long tube journeys.

  2. Be friendly – no matter how good you think your technical skills are, build a good working relationship with your colleagues. No one like to work with a drama queen.

  3. Prioritise – sometimes it’s okay to let go of your elaborate design idea to make your team’s work more achievable.

  4. Get inspiration – look outside the online world and don’t get too attached to other people’s design style.

  5. Build trust towards others – if you don’t know the solution, they probably do.

Rachelle Miller

Rachelle Miller

Product Designer at TextMe

Good habits of product designers begin with seeking feedback at uncomfortably, early stages and taking every piece of feedback in stride. Good habits also mean focusing on identifying problems, asking questions, and finding solutions - but not focusing on making something look nice or pretty because the storytelling and problem solving will get you there. Good habits also mean developing soft skills.

Learning to develop soft skills like adaptability, EQ (Emotional Intelligence), and self-awareness are key to being a good product designer. Adaptability will allow you to read a room, handle yourself gracefully and with poise, EQ will give you empathy for your fellow designers and users which is crucial when designing products, and self-awareness can help with team collaboration and give you overall enjoyment in your day-to-day work.

John Carter

John Carter

Product Designer at RMS

  1. Taking time out of their daily work to become an expert in their respective domains. In my opinion, thats the major difference between UI/UX designers and product designers. Product designers are industry and domain experts and can add value to every single part of the business.

  2. Constantly improving their skills and keeping up with current trends, tools, and information (related or unrelated to their industry).

  3. Public speaking! Last, but not least. As designers, it's our job to drive the value of our practice within our workplace, but how can we do that? Constantly presenting and speaking to the company on how the design team works, functions, our process and the value that we bring to the company and our clients/users. Evangelizing the practice of design is part of all our jobs as designers.

Michael J. Morgan

Michael J. Morgan

Brand Strategy & User Experience Design

Good product designers adopt many/all of the following habits:

  • Sleeping at least 8 hours

  • Avoiding excessive drinking

  • Spending time away from their desk

  • Taking lunch breaks

  • Exercising 3+ times a week

  • Mediating daily

  • Looking at inspiring art/design daily

  • Researching new design tools

  • Reading about their market

  • Setting uninterrupted time aside to design

  • Speaking with customers

  • Holding recurring designs reviews of their work

  • Communicating (thoughtfully and timely) with their team

  • Sharing their knowledge with the community and/or their team

Yuri Lence

Yuri Lence

Senior Product Designer at Opendoor

Good product design habits to me are:

  1. Maintain healthy relationships with your team: developers & PMs. Some designers think their best friends are other designers but in reality, your engineers make much bigger impact on your career.

  2. Start with checking current metrics to disprove or confirm a hypothesis.

  3. Approach problems thru a prism of OKR's (objective and key results).

  4. Use your product in real life, at least from time to time. It seems obvious, but we barely use what we build, simply because some products have a complicated experience, which locked by a lot of conditions. In such cases, having a fully working test build is something worth to invest resources in.

  5. Run a blog or write without being published. It helps to fight the impostor syndrome and keep your knowledge highlighted.

Nishant Panchal

Nishant Panchal

Senior Product Designer at Salesforce

Considering good habits foster successful careers, it’s important to start building them early. Here are some recommendations:

  1. Stay connected to users. It is easy to get lost in your work and process that you loose sight of who you are designing for and small details about their daily life.

  2. Share your work early & often. Be comfortable with the uncomfortable feeling of sharing work in progress.

  3. Involve PM & Engineers in your process. This will allow you to have a concrete solution that is shippable.