At Union Metrics we work hard to build the best products we can in the world of social media analytics, and that takes a lot of different talents. So one employee at a time we’re sharing what a day in the life of our jobs is like.
Seeing a name like “Product Designer” gives you an idea of what kind of work goes into that role, but there’s nothing better than an explanation from the person who lives it to understand it. With that, we give you an interview with Steph Cruz, our Product Designer at Union Metrics.
1. What are some common misconceptions around what product designers do?
I think the most common misconception stems from the fact that people tend to exclusively think of “products” as the tangible goods that they can find in a store, but that definition can be expanded to include digital products as well; the software and apps that we use and interact with on a regular basis.
2. How would you explain your job to a confused relative?
I usually explain that my role involves helping to identify areas for opportunity or improvement within our product, and working to craft and design everything from the user experience to final visual touches for the best possible solution— one that will benefit both our customers as well as our business.
3. What’s a typical day like for you (and if there is no typical day, what’s a sample day)?
Depending on where we are in the lifecycle of a project, the day-to-day tasks can vary. A sample day could include mocking up low-fidelity wireframes early on in a project to convey possible solutions to the rest of the product team, or designing high-fidelity mock ups later in the project to be referenced by the engineering team.
4. What’s the most unexpectedly rewarding part of your job?
Definitely learning about the specific instances in which our product has helped our customers. Our process is a very iterative one, so bringing the loop full circle with customer feedback is really important. Hearing someone talk about how much they enjoy using the product or how it helped them to solve a particular problem they were having is definitely a day-maker!
5. What’s the most unexpectedly challenging part of your job?
Developing concrete solutions to what can often be very abstract ideas and deciding on the best way to relate those ideas. For instance, if we decide to add a button somewhere so our customers can more easily complete a task, we have to think about things such as the button’s discoverability, the action that it triggers (and how it fits in with the flow of the rest of the app), how it’s styled visually, its interactions- what happens when you hover on it? what about once it’s clicked?- and the feedback that we should provide once that action has been taken.
All of these details can be described using anything from a quick sketch to a written spec to a high-fidelity prototype, and all of these methods vary in the amount of time they take to complete and the degree of clarity they’re able to provide.
6. How would you say your job fits in with the rest of the UM teams?
Each team brings a different set of insights to the table about what’s working well with the product and creating delight for our customers, in addition to the things that aren’t working and could use improvement. Syncing up regularly to share these insights and make sure all of the teams have buy-in is an important part of the process.
7. What’s one other person’s job (or team) you’d like to learn more about?
You can speculate all day on customer needs or wants, but the most telling way of determining those things is through data. That’s why the customer success ops role is fascinating to me. The ability to improve our product based on data and the behaviors of the people who are using it day-in and day-out is invaluable.
8. What’s the next thing you’d like to learn in your own role?
I’d like to deepen my knowledge of Adobe After Effects. While I have a bit of experience working with the program already, I’ve seen some amazing work done in it and I think it can be a powerful tool for conveying animations and interactions.
9. What advice would you give yourself starting out as a product designer?
I’d tell myself that the first solution that you come up with is usually the worst solution that you’ll come up with, so to always stay open to new ideas and suggestions. They can come from anywhere and anyone, at any point.
10. What advice would you give yourself starting your first day at UM?
I’d say to work on getting your GIF game strong and be prepared to join a team that works hard, plays hard, and laughs (a lot)!