Execute! How we kicked off this D&F project by making things on Day 1

April 24, 2014 Nina Mehta

Traditionally, design firms help clients figure out what to build and dev shops do the engineering. Clients choose Labs because we can take a seed of an idea and make it live. Fast.

But because we’re known for building product, clients are hungry to see mockups and wireframes before the product team is even ready to frame the problem that needs solving.

After a few weeks of Discovery and Framing, clients get anxious and frustrated that they haven’t seen any designs from the designers. If we were a traditional design-house, client’s wouldn’t blink an eye at weeks–nay–months of research.

My new client came into a Discovery and Framing engagement with two distinct needs: immediate pixel-to-pixel tweaks and creating a rich feature set to capture a new market. These kinds of parallel needs are common for startups but not a very traditional way to start a Labs engagement.

This week, I’ve been doing small updates like designing dropdowns, creating an export feature and adjusting the way a data chart is laid out. This helped:

  • the client see how the product team can narrow the scope of a feature to an MVP
  • the client see that we how we design and prepare features to ship
  • the product team see how the features actually work
  • the product team develop more insight and intuition about product direction
  • the product team have a richer understanding during interviews and research
  • the client and product team learn how to disagree because the stakes are low

This kind of setup is not possible in the same way as a greenfield project, but I think there’s something there. I’d love to hear if designers in other offices have had a similar or divergent experience.

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