8 Product Designers Share 2020 Resolutions
From better sleep and Slack habits to ethics in the workplace and a more streamlined design toolkit—let these designers inspire your own resolutions.
A new year is a great opportunity to reflect, to look at what went well in the last 12 months and what didn’t, to set goals, and decide what you want to learn or get better at in the year ahead. It’s a great way to benchmark where you want to be in the near future and put steps in place to help you get there.
To get you inspired, we asked eight amazing product designers what their work-related resolutions are for 2020. Here’s what they had to say.
Linda Dong, founder of Secret Society
Linda works in design, creative leadership, and games. In her past lives, she was a design leader at Lyft and prototyper in Apple’s Prototyping team. She loves playful tech and immersive experiences.
Explore beyond the screen
There’s so much happening in the XR (augmented, virtual, and mixed reality) space that’s waiting to be explored. We’ve developed mature, robust design patterns and systems for different devices and I’m hoping the industry can start branching out to designing for experiences that bridge into the physical world even more. Personally, I think this area is so fun to tinker with.
End peak Slack
Last year was all about Slack, Discord, Zoom, email, and all other forms of constant communication. I saw 100+ comment threads on design bugs, emoji reactions as substitutes for design critique, and people angry that I wasn’t responding to DM’s the second they were sent to me. So this year I’m consciously respecting other’s communication boundaries and establishing my own.
Promote ethical design
As an industry, I think we’ve all come to realize that perhaps the tech companies we’ve labored for and that have supported us these last few years have also caused harm to our very own communities, governments, and users. Ethics has never been too ingrained in the design process and I think this is a major year where that will shift. I hope accessibility, safety, privacy, and impact are prioritized at the top of every designer’s project.
Andrea Limjoco, design lead at Spotify and Sidewalk Labs
Andrea is an artist and design lead based in Stockholm and London — working with Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs and Spotify. She’s obsessed with making masks and ceramics as well as urban design.
I’m currently reading How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell and it has changed the way I interact with online content, news, and social media. It’s allowed me to appreciate and rethink the state of being bored. Slowing down can mean a lot of things, but for me, it means resisting that instant gratification. That means walking more, reading physical newspapers and magazines, and removing all the notifications on my phone. I also started sitting on the subway without listening to music, podcasts or reading Twitter. The ride feels slower but I’m learning to love that.
Sleeping a lot helps me to decompress and reset my mind. I find that my most productive days are the days when I had a good night’s rest. I go to bed at 10 and wake up at 7. Yep, that’s 9 hours of sleep!
Holly Habstritt Gaal, design director at DuckDuckGo
Holly is the design director at DuckDuckGo, focusing on raising the standard of trust online. Previously, she held roles at Mozilla and Huge and currently lives in Amsterdam.
Make time for active recovery
Last year I focused on applying Deep Work to accomplish a number of tough goals—from learning songs quickly to join a band on tour to passing Dutch immigration exams. Focus was key to pulling these off, but it was still work and didn’t result in new inspiration. Allowing time for active recovery allows inspiration to come at its own pace. For me, this is time for surfing, hiking, and writing music.
Practice (offline) what I preach (online)
The digital products I love have a positive mission and focus on ethical practices. It feels hypocritical to preach this in one area of my life without practicing it in others. I want to take steps towards producing less waste, reducing travel, using my time and the time of others well, and making smarter purchases that align with my principles.
Own moments of influence
Designers have a unique power to influence what is seen, felt and heard. It’s easy to see design as just a small part of a larger decision-making machine, but we shouldn’t underestimate our impact. This my reminder to always take responsibility for our moments in the process, big or small, and own up to our influence. These moments can affect change in a big way.
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Jacky Lee, product manager and software designer at Wahoo Fitness
Jacky is a product manager and software designer currently working for an industry-leading fitness technology company, Wahoo Fitness. He designs for athletes (cyclists, runners & triathletes) to make indoor training effective and fun. He uses code for building design prototypes that talk with Bluetooth enabled hardware like heart rate monitor straps and indoor smart trainers. Outside of work you can most likely find him riding a bike.
Maintain a beginners mindset and keep learning
I want to stay curious about everything and not get too comfortable about a specific skill or tool.
Keep a healthy balance between my main gig and side projects
Side projects has given me the room to experiment with new ideas and learn something new. I want to continue having a healthy amount of them throughout this year.
Write and share more
This year I want to get better at writing. I'd like to start the habit of writing down what I learned. In addition to other people finding it useful, this could also be a place where I look things up in case I forget in the future.
Amy Lee, product designer at Netflix
Amy Lee is a curious product designer, fearful/fearless adventure junkie, and opinionated foodie with midwestern sensibilities & west coast dreams.
I’m constantly absorbing and processing information but rarely do I make the time to share my experiences and learnings in the same way as I share my work deliverables. I want to write more freely, even if it’s just in a personal journal format because I feel like I have more to share than just the work that I create. Plus, I love the feeling of reflection and release when I get my thoughts down on paper or my iPad.
Constrain my design toolkit
I, like many designers, love a good process or framework. I want to stop looking for new ways of doing things and sharpen a few more limited practices as my go-to methods. It’s a minimalistic approach to how I work; hopefully, this constraint will also bring about the same efficiencies and quality it has to my wardrobe.
Design office hours
In an effort to streamline my calendar, I’ve been hosting weekly 2-3 hour “design office hours” for my cross-functional teammates. We discuss anything from direct feedback on UI decisions to co-sketching user flows, to the new Ramen machine in the office (that’s right… a new Ramen machine). This has afforded me insight into the design decisions my engineering team is faced with and sharpened my ability to be helpful, faster, and without too much overthinking. It's also an opportunity to hone my listening, coaching, and management skills and figure out when to use them based on the discussion. I hope to continue this practice at least bi-weekly throughout the year.
Ash Adamson, senior product designer at Hashicorp
Ash works at Hashicorp designing workflows for developers and infrastructure engineers. In her past life, she was a professional DJ but nowadays she enjoys sipping tea and thoughtful conversations.
Lead more design workshops
Scaling design thinking across a team is far more effective than doing it alone. It also improves your relationship with your team because they feel like they get to share their input, plus it dispels the ‘design in an ivory tower’ myth.
Write bite-sized user research insights for smaller projects
Sometimes I do ‘just enough’ user research and internalize that knowledge without keeping a record of my thoughts and reactions. A few times I've come back to the research and asked myself "what did I learn again?" Having that info to jog my memory at hand would be nice.
Learn how to do animation in video
I'm writing a lot about personal development frameworks for my upcoming YouTube videos and vlog about my transition. Adding some custom visualizations to the conceptual frameworks would scratch a creative itch.
Max Steitle, product designer at Zoom
Max is passionate about design systems, prototyping, React, and creating delightful user experiences.
Spend more time on the words that go into the product
So much energy is put into the visual and interaction design that sometimes the copy doesn’t get the love it deserves.
100% of the knowledge I’ve learned on things like React have come from others, without those resources I never would have been able to get started.
Write production code
Our design is what gets implemented, so having the skills to influence the quality of what others experience is important to me.
Tatiana Mac, independent art director and product designer
Tatiana is a designer who builds inclusive, accessible, and ethical products with thoughtful practices. She’s a designer who codes, a writer who reads, and a speaker who listens.
Ask more questions
As designers, we are keen to arrive at solutions, but sometimes I find we can rush or make presumptions and not ask enough questions. I want to ask bigger questions about why systems in society are the way they are, how our users’ experiences affect their interactions with our products, and what individual and group biases we need to make ourselves aware of.
Be more helpful
Whether that’s ensuring an onboarding experience has better cues or releasing more articles on accessibility tips, I want to ensure the body of work I build eases burdens and save people time.
Embrace uncertainty and complexity
The world is complex. I think as designers we try to simplify our products to make them more coherent. The downside to this is that we can be reductionist in harmful ways that eliminate a segment of users due to their gender, for example. Making space for what we don’t know, such as users we haven’t spoken to who may contradict users who we have, and finding a way to invite them in will help.
It’s interesting to see some key themes emerge from the resolutions above. There is a big emphasis on slowing down, being more open, and focusing on words, whether that’s in a professional, skill-building context or more for personal development.
What are your goals for 2020? If you want to share them, feel free to send them to us on Twitter. If they have anything to do with prototyping or getting better with Framer, check out our courses, lessons, and guides on Learn.