How do you know what someone wants before they ask for it? UX and Product designers, like psychics, are tasked with the job of uncovering the future. It’s not just digging into what people want, need or where their pain-points are, but rather communicating those to a team and thinking through solutions that might not even exist yet.
Angelique Belizaire, a Product Designer at Managed by Q, reverts back to an old quote by Henry Ford to describe this sixth sense that designers possess: If I had asked people what they want, they would have said faster horses.
“It’s true,” she says. “They would have asked for a faster horse. As the designer, you’re supposed to be like, let’s do something better.”
Born and raised in a French island called Reunion, Angelique studied design in France before moving to New York five years ago. After leading design for financial company Capco, and then event booking startup Venuebook, Angelique recently joined Managed by Q’s design team, a role she found through the Vettery marketplace.
Managed by Q, a fast growing startup that's raised more than $72 million, connects companies to office services including cleaning, maintenance, administrative support, IT, and security. With CEO Dan Teran having a background in design, the company really emphasizes the importance of quality UI/UX experiences.
“At any company, there’s the people, then engineers, and then designers in the middle,” Angelique says.
But UX and product designers aren’t simply translators or middlemen. They must dig deeper into the people and the product. Angelique walks us through her process:
“You want to grow and evolve with the product. It’s kind of like a little animal - it does its own thing sometimes and you just have to watch it, learn from it, and add things to it and see how people interact with it.”
The product, like the people using it, is constantly changing. Angelique maintains an endless cycle of interviewing, ideating and testing. Her creative exercises enable teams of designers, engineers and even operations managers or CEOs to contribute to the brainstorming process.
“I do this workshop that starts with ‘Users should be able to ____’, and then you have to finish the sentence. You can write anything you can think of in 5 minutes.”
It seems simple, yet too often we get lost in the weeds, instead of thinking high-level: what behavior do we want our product to enable? What should our users be able to do?
She recommends to start wide, like a funnel, where no idea is a bad one, to encourage the most creative of thoughts before narrowing down to the logical next steps. You should lay out the data and information from user interviews and surveys so the team can begin to connect the ideas floating in the brainstorm to the needs of the people.
“I like to make this graph, one axis as ‘Nice to Have’ to ‘Most Important,’ and then the other ‘Easy to Implement’ to ‘Hard to Implement’.”
Once you have the ideas, what will they look like? Angelique encourages everyone to draw them out in something she calls, ‘Design Studio.’ Even simple shapes like a line or a square, without anything completely fleshed out will help your team get on the same page.
“It’s a sketching session, so you lay out the same personas and the same goals. You have your list of features, now what do you think it will look like?”
The process is endless, a repeating cycle of trying to keep up with users as they change and grow. You aren’t just giving the users a product, you’re enabling their way of life.
In this age, it’s a difficult feat to release great products at the rate of change that humans go through. But it’s necessary. In fact, Angelique, albeit admitting to her own bias, believes it’s the most necessary part of the business.