Designing for Production

Who is going to help you get your product or idea built?

This is part two of a series of three articles detailing the internal groups we have to design for in order to get great products built and sold. Part two focuses on the groups that collaborate to get your design produced.

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Here’s Part One (not required, but recommended):

Okay so we’ve gotten buy-in from the higher-ups and now the real panic…uh…excitement sets in. We are ready to bring in the teams who will help us get this thing built:

  • Internal Design Team
  • Product Management
  • Development

Some of you may be designing solo and/or not have product managers, but someone will be playing these roles whether it’s you, your startup’s CEO, or your cat. So this one’s for you, too.

1. Internal Design Team

Tools: Sketch, duh.

If you’re ever working with other designers, it is so important that you keep your file clean and organized. You should be doing this anyway for your own sanity, but especially if you’re working with other designers. No one likes sifting through “Group 65” and finding your misspelled text or detached symbols. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and keep a clean kitchen. You’ll love yourself, and your team will, too. Everyone wins.

Don’t be this guy. On that note, Ale Muñoz just released an awesome plugin to help you clean nested groups like these. Thanks, Ale!

A couple things I always keep in mind while I’m designing:

  1. Design Cleanliness: Pretend your design file is your home. How much cleaning would you have to do to prep your place for an Airbnb guest? 15 minutes? Or 5 hours? Is your design clean enough to hand off to another designer with little-to-no explanation? Stay organized.
  2. Design Scalability: “This is just a quick-and-dirty mockup. I’ll come back later and clean it up,” said every designer, ever. Design for scalability out of the gate and you won’t have to come back and design it twice. Set up your text styles. Actually use them. Make symbols whenever you want to repeat yourself. Assume that your 3-artboard design file will someday have 180 artboards. It will. Will you be in control of them? Because of the design framework I use, I was recently able to update the brand colors, fonts, and logos across 79 screens for a client in the blink of an eye. This would have taken days had I not set up a scalable process.
  3. Design Consistency: Consistency is an earned advantage when you design in a scalable way. If you’re using styles and symbols, your potential for error is so much smaller than if you were creating elements from scratch every time. You won’t get any more questions from dev as to why the padding is 16px here and 15px there.

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