Payam Rajabi is a part of the product design team at Invision. He’s been working as a product designer in Bay area for years. We’ll talk about designing for designers and working remotely.
How is your team set up? How do you divide responsibilities, making sure that everyone has a job to do, and at the same time the tool still feels like a whole?
Our team is comprised of a product lead, three product designers (including myself), a product manager and a dozen or so engineers. Each of the designers bring in a unique set of skills and experiences, which often feels like playing in a band. Someone’s on drums, another on guitar, and another on bass — each bringing in a part to create a whole.
How closely do you collaborate with your engineers and how much do you pay attention on the written part (UI content) of your tool?
Each of the designers interact with engineers quite regularly. We’ll have a kickoff meeting when we’re starting something new. We try to rely on writing good documentation and lots of good questions and answers (via comments) to refine our definition of what we’re trying to build and how we’re trying to build it. Sometimes though, it’s just faster to jump into a quick conversation. We don’t have anyone focused purely on content right now, so we all also write the content. We would love to find the right content strategist to collaborate with, though!
We try to rely on writing good documentation and lots of good questions and answers.
How do you keep up the team spirit and maintain a company culture in a large creative team?
We’re a 100% remote team, which — anyone who’s worked this way can tell you — has some upsides and downsides. For me, the best part of working remotely is getting to work with truly great humans that I’d never have the chance to work with otherwise. You get to avoid a long commute and spend your time working in whichever place you feel you can do your best work. I feel like this generally keeps spirits up. Some challenges revolve around being able to get everyone together regularly, whether that means doing daily standups at a time that’s convenient for everyone, or getting together in-person. I think we’ve managed to work around some of those challenges creatively, and the time that we do have together we treat like a rare delicacy. However, I still wish I could grab beers with my teammates after work sometimes. :) Ultimately, I think what helps maintain our culture is the people we’ve surrounded ourselves with. Everyone’s very passionate and ambitious about what we’re trying to accomplish, and that’s contagious.
Ultimately, I think what helps maintain our culture is the people we’ve surrounded ourselves with.
How much time do you spend on prototyping and testing?
I’d say that’s pretty much what I spend all of my time doing. I’m either coming up with solutions to problems or I’m sharing that solution with someone to get feedback. Whether I’m ideating on paper, drawing up something in Sketch, or creating interactive prototypes, I consider all of that prototyping. Prototyping has a special place in our team. We all use any means necessary to articulate ideas quickly, so we can figure out if something is worth pursuing further. I feel like I’ve learned a ton about what prototyping really means since joining.
What is the hardest thing about designing a tool for designers?
It’s exciting to be working on products that solve problems you can relate to deeply. The hardest part of this is realizing that you’re not the only person you’re designing for. People use tools in vastly different ways, so it’s been important to understand my own biases — while also trying to be opinionated about certain aspects — to create an abstract mechanism that empowers users. I love seeing people use our tools in ways that we didn’t imagine. I think that’s what keeps me going.
It’s exciting to be working on products that solve problems you can relate to deeply.
Where do you feel InVision is headed? What do you think will be changing in the design field in the next 5 years and how will it affect the way designers work?
I feel like 10 years ago design felt much more elitist than it does today, and I can see it becoming far more democratized in the coming years. I’m looking forward to seeing us enable an even more diverse set of people with unique design experiences. Maybe in the future more people on a team will identify as designers. I can see InVision being a strong catalyst in making that happen.