How to Build a Design Team that Works

How to Build a Design Team that Works

What is a design team?

Most companies no longer treat design as a luxury, but as a core competency; gone are the days when it was treated as an afterthought. Several researches over the last few years indicates that a 32% increase in revenue and a 56% increase in shareholder returns are possible when a company invests in design. It is not an easy task to put together a design team that will be great in their output, as well as effective in their overall undertakings. If you're a manager of a remote team, you know how important it is to find people who can work together despite geographical barriers to create the most cutting-edge and user-friendly products ever.

One product designer could be all that's needed for a particular project, or it may a team of creatives including several designers taking on specialized duties, depending on what is needed for the project at hand. Depending on the scope of the project, these designers may be in charge of a wide range of activities, all of which contribute to the realization of a common design goal via various design approaches. The design group will diligently endeavor to implement your feedback, making full use of all available means to realize your vision. An arrangement that pleases customers, can be mass-produced, and stays within the project's allotted budget is the final result. Your design team may be tasked with creating an artwork, website, mobile app concept, or anything else that necessitates visual reasoning and expression. The result, though, must always have logically sound structure as well as a creative and interesting flare.

Types of design team structures

A design team's structure includes the organizational framework within which the team's many designers work and the specific duties that fall under the purview of each designer. No team can be 100% flawless. Since teams are comprised of individuals, each of whom is complex, imperfect, and unique, there is no such thing as a perfect or even nearly ideal team. Don't be afraid of your team's uniqueness; its complexity and imperfections are what give their work its creative flair in the end.  However, with the correct approach to team design and management, you might be able to put together a capable and effective design team. Perfection is not required for optimal team performance, but structure is. There are 4 common design team structures,

Centralized design team structure

For a design team to be considered "centralized," the bulk of power and responsibility must lie with just a few people. Decision makers work closely together and are physically located in the same area as part of a centralized team. Whether they're in the same room or on different continents, the members of a centralized team remain in constant communication with one another, are receptive to new ideas and criticism, and work together toward the creation of a single, cohesive product or line of items.

Embedded design team structure

The embedded model promotes open communication and teamwork across organizational silos, which can boost productivity and morale. In this model, designers report to the managers of cross-functional teams working on projects all throughout the company, to collaborate with programmers, product engineers, and marketers on a particular product, feature, or business segment is a right job for any designer. These groups work swiftly and effectively, and their members know everything there is to know about the current project they are working on. In other words, they are a type of team structure in which authority is split between multiple people.

Flexible design team structure

Taking stock of the skills already available on your design team is essential when operating within a flexible framework. A flexible organizational structure will allow you to bring in outside help to fill in the gaps if your company has great User Experience (UX) designers but is short on Graphic Designers. This organizational structure for the company's design team combines features of both centralized and decentralized design teams. These design groups are highly flexible and may easily be restructured to meet any emerging needs. A flexible team's leader is in charge of directing and keeping tabs on the designers' routine tasks. Further, the design leader oversees the entire design team, and the designers collaborate via design reviews.

Contractual design team structure

With this organizational setup for your design team in-house, you can have a leaner group of people who can give their full attention to the most strategic and imaginative aspects of the job, while delegating to outside vendors the more mundane, time-consuming work. Your in-house design team's time is best spent on high-priority projects; by delegating less important work to others, such as keeping documents on brand, creating presentation slides, and formatting newsletters and announcements, you free up their time to focus on those projects. A contractual design team structure's greatest strength is its compatibility with other types of organizational frameworks. Providers under contract can report directly to your headquarters, focus on a single project, or give company-wide support for whichever functions you see fit.

How to know when you’re ready to scale, and start building a design team?

Designers are fully aware of the limited time and energy they have to devote to their craft (and designing well). Investing time and money in training and hiring fresh staff members for your small design firm can be an intimidating prospect. Spending it on things you have the skills to do on your own can feel counterintuitive or hazardous, but you've earned that money and deserve to treat yourself. Still, there are situations when financial outlays are required for financial gains. And in this particular scenario, investing money in high-caliber design skills might pay off for you in more ways than one. Assuming the following goods are already staples in your professional routine, you should realize it's high time to start assembling your own design team.

· When you have to decline projects because you simply don't have enough time or energy to accomplish them or do them justice.

· When your present team's skill set is restricting the kind of projects you may accept, it's time to expand.

· When you and your team are frequently overwhelmed with design work or feel like you're being spread too thin.

How to Optimize Your Design Team?

Give them the top-notch equipment they deserve.

Tools for the design process might help your business save time and money. Having your designers use a unified platform for all of their design, prototyping, and collaboration needs streamlines the design process. As a bridge between design and development, this application will facilitate communication and collaboration between your decentralized designers and developers. The team can quickly communicate with hired designers and other interested parties.

Focus on expanding and improving yourself

An active design team is the result of providing constructive criticism aimed at raising individual performance. Set up regular one-on-one meetings with each designer in your team to provide feedback and determine whether they need additional resources. There’s always more to learn and be better at and you certainly wouldn’t want anything to stagnate your design team’s creativity and innovative spirit.

Hire The Right Leaders for Your Team

Identifying the best organizational framework for the design team is a necessary first step before beginning the hiring process. Figure out what your team really needs and do what you can to provide exactly it. In order to convince higher management of design's importance, you must first recruit experienced design leaders. It is not seniority or years of experience alone that make a leader valuable; rather, it is the leader's ability to advise and advocate for the team. With capable leaders at the helm of design teams, businesses may expect to see a boost in revenue. They have an understanding of where the gaps are and how to address them, whether with contract labor or full-time personnel.

Embrace a mindset centered on strategic design

Your design team might be more instrumental in achieving business objectives by adopting a culture of design strategy. The morale of your team will increase as it becomes simpler for people in other divisions to appreciate design's benefits. By teaching your designers to prioritize the needs of their clients and by coordinating their efforts with the overall objectives of the company, you can establish a culture based on design strategy. Everything your design team does should be driven by your design strategy.

Invest in cutting-edge design software for your team

Get your hands on some state-of-the-art design software to help out the team. When your design team is well organized, it's much simpler for its members to work together and communicate with those in other parts of the company. There are many brilliant softwares that simplifies teamwork by serving as a universal platform for all design requirements.

Understand the Role DesignOps Plays

DesignOps is a tool for discovering and fixing bottlenecks in the design process. As a result, your design team may make greater progress with fewer man-hours and material resources. By optimizing work and team performance, you might minimize unneeded hires. In a nutshell, the objective of DesignOps is to improve an organization's design function by utilizing elaborate tools and strategy. If you want to put together a powerful design team with the future in mind, DesignOps is a viable option to consider for the long term.

Over to you

As a design leader, building a team of designers is an exciting challenge and opportunity. This is your chance to shape a product, the user experience, and how clients and customers perceive a product. Whether your team is centralized, embedded, or deployed in a flexible format, using an agency model is the most effective approach and the best way to recruit the right layers of talent and levels of experience your company needs to achieve its product goals and aims. We wish you the best of luck in forming your design team for your next project and hope you were able to extract some helpful insights into the design team management process