KnowMe is giving the power back to candidates and helping college students stand out as applicants
As the sole and lead Product Designer at KnowMe, I collaborated closely with the C-suite to iterate through 5 major features and create the brand design for the website and MVP mobile app. I contributed at every stage of the end-to-end process.
Unfortunately, I can't share any specific designs and details, but here was my process and takeaways.
My Role: Product Designer (full-time)
Timeline: March to June 2021
Responsibilities: User Experience Design, User Research, Visual Design, Prototyping, Animations, Responsive Web Design, Product Strategy, Branding, Logos
Tools: Figma, Principle, Protopie, Webflow, Adobe After Effects
Type: Mobile, Responsive Web Design
The product strategy was constantly changing
It's hard to share a linear timeline of what I accomplished at KnowMe because our product strategy was changing every few weeks. However, the general end-to-end design process consisted of:
- Problem Exploration
- Brainstorming solutions
- Design Iterations
Because our product strategy was changing frequently, I looped through this end-to-end process several times in very short timelines, often spending more time iterating through designs.
What I did at each step of the design process
01 - Problem Exploration
My goal during this step was to learn more about the problem space. I asked questions like:
- Who are we solving for? Did our target audience change? How did it change?
- How is this problem currently being solved by other companies?
- Why is this problem important to solve? How does this contribute to our business strategy and roadmap?
Doing this allowed me to more fully understand the context of what we were building. By asking clarification questions to the C-suite, I was able to gain more insight on why we were going in a certain direction. This laid the foundation for our product decisions.
02 - Research
Completing user research was important for me to learn more about who I was designing for. Although our timelines were tight, I made research a priority. I did this through:
- Auditing the current design and user flows of the app. What was working and what wasn't?
- Completing a Competitive Analysis to find opportunities for improvement.
- Reading online reviews of similar products.
- Planning and conducting 8 user interviews and usability tests
- Gathered 50+ user survey responses
By researching potential competitors and interviewing our target audience, I was able to gain a better understanding of our users' pain points and see how our product could help with that. I brought this research back to our brainstorming sessions.
03 - Brainstorming Solutions
My frequent calls with the PM consisted of bouncing ideas off each other and finding new inspiration for the brand design. By taking the time to explore the current problem space, we were able to brainstorm crazy creative solutions.
One big challenge we had was prioritizing feature requirements. As an early-stage startup with limited engineering resources, I pushed my PM and I to use the effort vs. impact matrix to decide requirements.
Some processes we used to brainstorm solutions included:
- Brainstorming How Might We's
- Documentation of user flows & feature requirements
- Effort vs. Impact Matrix
- FigJam boards for us to share our ideas asynchronously and get feedback. This allowed for more efficient real-time meetings.
This stage helped us to think outside the box and re-align ourselves with what features we wanted in the product.
04 - Design Iterations to Hand Off
I took a user-centered design and component-based approach so that I was designing with the users in mind, as well as with our limited development resources in mind.
Our frequent design syncs helped keep our small team on the same page so that if there were any misalignments, we could tackle it earlier on in the process instead of later down the road.
During this stage, I would iterate through these steps:
- Low Fidelity → Iteration of high fidelity screens in Figma
- Daily Zoom calls with the Chief of Product and C-suite to get feedback
- Brainstorm micro-animations to make the app fun and engaging in FigJam
- Prototype user interactions with Principle and Protopie
- Create a design system in Figma (We changed the branding often, but using variants and components in Figma really helped save time)
There was no process set in place for hand off to engineers, so I created one. I made sure to include a UI library, spacing specifications, and wrote detailed specifications about the intended user interaction.
05 - Next steps in the process
If I were at KnowMe for longer, this process would not stop here. I would continue it by testing the designs through A/B testing and usability tests to measure the success of the app and each feature individually.
Design is an endless loop of iterations.
After completing many one-off design projects, it’s easy for me to think that design is finished after you hand it off to engineers. I learned that it’s quite the opposite. There’s always something to improve and fix. Getting more eyes on it, especially from stakeholders and potential users, will help point out various aspects that can be improved.
Ask the right clarifying questions.
After collaborating closely with the team, I’ve learned the importance of asking questions, especially the right clarifying questions. I’ve been the type of person to quickly defend my design, but I’ve learned that I’m able to learn so much when I pause, listen, and ask more questions to learn about their opinions and thought processes.
Staying flexible and being growth-minded at a startup is key
Each time we pivoted to a different product vision, I continued to contribute in every way I could so that our team could keep moving forward. Staying flexible to changing goals and being eager to wear multiple hats in product, research, and design allowed me to learn something new every single day.