Sep 21, 2020

Entering product design – Chapter 5: Soloist product designers

When I was a freelancer, the workflow was simple. The client gave me a brief and I executed it. That worked. However, I realized that it doesn’t work anymore as I transition to my in-house career.

When a product designer enters the industry, I observe they will be uncomfortable or confuse working with other people in their team.

I want to unpack some archetypes when it comes to collaboration based on my observation over the years. You can change the label as you want, but I usually break it down into four stages: 1) Soloist, 2) narrow collaborator, 3) cross-function collaborator and, 4) radical collaborator.

Soloist product designers

One time, a content strategist invited me to do a sketching session together. I was thinking, why would I do it with a content strategist? My ego arises: I’m a designer. I would be able to do it alone. So I stubbornly proceed to work alone.

I regret that attitude because I made all the decisions myself and resulted in a very disjointed work.

I would label this attitude as a soloist product designers where the product designer works alone, not even with their closest UX sibling, such as content strategists or researchers.

The consequence of this attitude is a slower pace of working. Because the product designer will spend days thinking alone in a cave, then arrange a meeting the day after that to find she misses many aspects. In contrast, if you invite people in the process with you. You will get the perspective at that moment, and you can revise the work quicker.

A limited perspective baked into the work, resulting in a weak outcome. As I mentioned before, your product must be valuable, feasible, and viable. And it’s rare that we, product designers, will have the expertise to make the right decisions in those three aspects.

What to do

You can start small. You can start to invite at least the researcher or content strategist and explore a specific problem or a question.

I’d always encourage the designer to sit together in front of the whiteboard and start thinking together. In that session, you will begin to exercise how to frame a question and explore it together. You will practice how to challenge each other. Or visualize your thinking together, which is important.

Try this, invite an engineer if you want to explore corner cases. Spend ten minutes and you’ll blown away by how many corner cases or logic she will bring to you.

Question for you:

  • Which part of your work that you can invite others to give perspective and lead to a better decision?
  • Who would be the best person to give that perspective?
  • Are you a soloist or a collaborator?





Sep 30

When was the last time you reflect?

Sep 29

Methods are tools

Sep 24

How can I get a bigger project?

Sep 23

Entering product design – Chapter 7: Craft and analysis

Sep 22

Entering product design – Chapter 6: Narrow collaborator

Sep 21

Entering product design – Chapter 5: Soloist product designers

Sep 17

Entering product design – Chapter 4: Product designer key skill areas

Sep 14

Entering product design – Chapter 3: Misunderstanding of business

Sep 11

Entering product design – Chapter 2: Principles over steps

Sep 10

Entering product design – Chapter 1: Silver bullet

Sep 10

Entering product design – Overview

Sep 04

SAR: A framework for concise storytelling

Aug 27

Start your design with outcome

Aug 24

New medium post: Collaboration ground for design systems

Aug 17

Action points

Aug 13

Pulse check: Listen to your team

Aug 11

You should actively apply for a new job

Aug 10

Design systems' area of influence: Service (3/3)

Aug 04

Design systems' area of influence: Offering (2/3)

Aug 03

Design systems' area of influence: Identity (1/3)

Aug 01

My mom ran me to the hospital

Jul 29

Reader question: Do we need to build MVP for every product?

Jul 27

Reader question: Do I need formal design education?

Jul 24

Recognize assumptions

Jul 21

Sandbox for your personal growth

Jul 20

Start your week with questions

Jul 17

Specificity in feedback

Jul 15

Don't sell the design. Sell the business impact

Jul 14

Overwhelming inspiration

Jul 13

The framing trap

Jul 10

Everyone vs. Specific

Jul 09

The blind horse designer

Jul 08

Set the context in your meeting

Jul 07

Let's just try and see what happens

Jul 06

Managing expectation

Jul 05

Low UX maturity company

Jun 17

A simple exercise for career reflection

May 31

The “Coach sheet” – A paper-based system for people management

May 26

Bring calm to your remote team

Feb 13

Workshops can be more efficient than meetings

Feb 07

3 questions designers should be asking

Feb 06

Walking 1on1: A refreshing way to connect


Nov 21

My hope for stubborn 'Innovators'

Jul 18

Five simple actions to help you gain more time

Apr 23

Evolving Product Experience Principles at Bukalapak

Mar 09

A framework to give better design feedback: Analyze, Discuss, Suggest

Jan 28

Making a decision is hard, here's my rule of thumb


Dec 04

Essential skills for Product Designers

Nov 16

Quick life update

Nov 06

Things I learned from working at Shopify

Oct 15

About design critique

Sep 17

Common icon design problems you should avoid

Sep 06

Preface: Welcome to