The Role of a Surge Product Designer

The following article was written by Diane Whittaker; an expert product designer at Surge.  You have thought a lot about your new application, imagining how it will function, the business processes that will be streamlined, the cost savings for stakeholders and increased productivity for users. Now, you are ready to build your application. Before any development work can commence, your project needs to be communicated to a product designer. A product designer is assigned to turn your thoughts into a tangible prototype (or illustrated specification). Your designer elicits discussion to understand how your business operates now and how you would like it to operate after your new application is built. Your designer encapsulates workflow, user experience, and the look and feel into an interactive illustrated specification. This specification is the architectural plan that is used to build your application.

What is a Product Designer?

First of all, let’s talk terminology. At Surge, a product designer is synonymous with job titles you may have come across elsewhere. Some of these job titles may include: business analyst, systems analyst, product manager, requirements analyst, product analyst or UIX designer. Our job is to create a design that tells you exactly how your application will look and behave before development begins. The result of our work is an interactive prototype, also knows as an illustrated specification. A solid design includes page layouts, forms, workflow diagrams, business rules, field validations, and objects interactions. The design tells software developers what to build and quality assurance analysts how to test. The design becomes a visual representation of the application that we’re building for you. Our goal is to eliminate product delivery surprises and meet your expectations.

Traits of a Product Designer

A product designer possesses traits that support a variety of activities to create your prototype: Tools Designers have a toolbox of techniques to elicit, analyze, and communicate your project requirements. Knowledge Designers have horizontal experience across industries. Understanding how other industries solve complex problems helps designers to suggest solutions to address your business needs. Communication Designers are active listeners, will ask many questions, enjoy hearing your team’s ideas and will communicate ideas for your project through clear user stories. Trust Designers know how to earn your trust by following through on promises. Passion Designers will communicate the value of your project with passion in order to engage your development team. Calm Designers keep their cool and are not ruffled by conflict; rather they expect conflict in order to create the best possible solution for you. Sometimes stakeholders present conflicting needs. Your designer will collect information and ask questions until the needs of all stakeholders are net. Resourceful Designers know how to find answers to questions and don’t wait for answers to come along without effort. Product Mission Designers are able to grasp and communicate the high-level product mission and then move into project details. A good designer continues to step back to ensure the project is achieving its goals. Management Product designers are not project managers and they understand why they are not project managers. At the same time, a good designer is proactive and aware of project dependencies. They involve stakeholders in the right way to keep your project moving forward. Scope Product designers manage scope; while it is difficult to reign in creatively and postpone your great ideas, it is important to deliver a quality product on time and within your budget. Advocate Your designer is your advocate with the development team. Your designer represents you and promotes your business needs. Your designer will listen to you and work with you and create the best possible design.

Summary

A product designer is your advocate. We work with you to create an illustrated specification (or prototype) that fully describes each feature in your application. This work ensures a smooth development cycle and a targeted testing phase. The illustrated specification is your architectural plan showing exactly what we will build.
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