How to Build a Design Team: Everything You Should Know

What is a design team?

A design or product team is a group of people who are working on design fields and bringing website or mobile app ideas into life.

Why organizations need a design team?

1). Design is more important than ever

As an increasing number of online consumers judge an online shop or business based on their website design, companies gradually have realized the vital role of the web site’s design in growing their businesses. And an ever-growing number of companies start to make a breakthrough by improving the website design, including better web layouts, content, CAT buttons, and more user-friendly design approaches.

2). Companies invest more and more in design fields

To create a website with better conversations and sales, it is essential for companies to invest more in design fields. However, how to plan and use these investments reasonably also becomes a problem. An effective design team can exactly help resolve this problem.

3). Design teams help you save time and cost

A good design team always strictly follows its routine to design, test and iterate a design draft. All team members conduct their own roles and responsibilities for the same goal. No repetitive work or useless costs will happen again. This helps you and your team save much time and cost before moving to the development process.

4). Design teams improve collaboration efficiency

Good design teams also take a full range of things into considerations, like marketing requirements, developing requirements and even real users’ needs, when working on a project. This helps all teams communicate and collaborate better with other teams and departments in an organization.

3 Main design team structures you should know

A good design or product team is not just a group of people gathered without reasons. Oppositely, a well-structured design team can not only make the team members communicate and collaborate better, and also level up the team’s productivity.

Centralized design teams

A centralized design team always has one or more leading individuals that have the power to make decisions on all important things. The rest members should strictly follow their decisions and finish their design work before the due date is coming. There will also be no time-wasting in discussing and unnecessary gatherings.

Embedded design teams

An embedded design team, also known as “a cross-functional design team” or “a decentralized design team”, is completely the opposite of the centralized design team. It has been embedded with other cross-functional teams in the organization, such as the engineering, product or marketing teams.

Flexible design teams

The most attractive point of this team structure is its flexibility. The leaders give no limit on a flexible design team. So, team members can freely get access to internal or external resources, including human resources like developers and product managers, to focus on and complete a project as they wish. The resources or persons that get involved in a project can also be changed as the project design needs vary.

Roles and responsibilities of design teams

Apart from the team structure, the next thing you should focus on is to divide the roles and make the responsibilities clear.

  • Design managers work as team leaders to push a project forward smoothly based on plans and strategies. They are often responsible for making the final decisions after hearing the ideas of all departs, creating executive plans and strategies in advance, and working out a solution to resolve any problems ASAP during the entire product design lifecycle.
  • Designers are the key part of a design team. They are a group of design specialists or experts that create, test and iterate product design drafts again and again to ensure better product and user experiences, like UI/UX designers, illustrators, interaction designers, visual designers, and even UX writers.
  • Engineers are UI developers that have been brought on the board early on to make sure that all decisions and design drafts are executive for development teams.
  • Others Since different companies create design teams for different purposes, the actual roles and responsibilities they assign to team members can also vary. Some companies add more roles, like marketers, user researchers, stakeholders and much more, to make sure the design team can collaborate better with other teams and departments.

How to build a strong design team step by step?

And then, let’s see how you can build a high-performing design team step by step:

Step1. Find your purposes

The final goal for a design team is often to create a better product and increase sales. However, companies also divide that goal into smaller aims and try to execute them all step by step. So, before you start to build your design team, you should also figure out your purposes and see how you guys can achieve that step by step.

Step2. Hire the right people for your team

Picking the right people for your team is the most important thing that you should pay attention to. If you’ve hired the wrong persons at the very beginning, you may get many problems in later stages and have to start over again.

Step3. Structure your team right

When you are done with the hiring thing, the next step is to determine how you will organize your team for higher work efficiency. Just check all three types of team structures above and choose the right one for your team.

Step4. Divide roles and responsibilities to right members

Everyone can be a superhero when he/she has been put in the right place. So, if you were a design team leader, take your time in assigning different roles and responsibilities to the right team members. When you cannot make the decision, also remember to discuss the details with other leaders. So all members can make the most of the talent and work the most efficiently.

Step5. Empower your team with the best tools

Apart from the talented people, also remember to select the best tools to empower your team. There are a number of design collaboration tools that power up your team with ease:

  • Sketch — a simple design tool that helps you visualize your design ideas into static interfaces or prototypes with rich details and colors. It is a good option if all your team members are using Mac devices.
  • Adobe XD — a vector-based UX design tool that helps your team create prototypes and simple interactions. If your team purchased an Adobe suite, this tool would help you save much money.
  • Mockplus — an all-in-one product design platform that helps you create fully interactive wireframes, mockups and prototypes, and collaborate on them with your team in real-time. Your entire product design workflow is connected in one place, from wireframing to design handoff, all on a web browser.

Best practices to create a stronger design team

1). Agree on the same values, principles and strategies

To ensure all team members get united in a project completely, you should also gather your team and discuss the team values, principles and strategies together. Share ideas and try to make a version that meets the need of different members. Only when they all accept those values, principles and strategies, they would really follow them in their daily work.

2). Release the power so your team can make their own decision

Design leaders are only responsible for ensuring everything is going forward as scheduled. As with the design process, how they should execute the plans or strategies more effectively is the problem that team members should work together to resolve. So, as a design leader, you should always create time and space to let them make their own decision freely.

3). Work out a rewarding system

Building a successful brand is not all about putting the entire team together and working hard. It also relies on creative ideas, personal efforts, strong leadership and so on. So, to encourages all members to conduct their roles and responsibilities as perfectly as possible, the best way is to work out a rewarding system. In this way, even without any monitors, they can work as hard and creatively as possible.

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