This is my first job as a Product Design Lead for a company. In my previous role, I started as a web designer, then a UI/UX designer, and lastly a lead UI/UX designer. Originally, I applied for a product manager position, but after some discussion, I was officially hired as a product design lead.
Ralali is the first B2B marketplace that focuses on empowering small to medium enterprises (SME’s) in Indonesia, an industry that I’ve never been aware of before. The challenge was to understand the difference between B2B and C2C or B2C marketplaces and to familiarize myself with them. I also need to understand what kind of customer they have, how they use the product, and their buying behavior.
After doing research on the B2B market and seeing how big and challenging the product was, I decided to try and take the role.
In Ralali, product design has two main teams: UI/UX designers and UX researchers. The UI/UX designer is in charge of creating the wireframe, high-fidelity mockup, user flow, and product design mood and style. UX researchers are responsible for supporting other product teams by improving the user experience through interviews, usability testing, A/B testing, and so on.
My very first task as product design lead at Ralali was to make the product design team clean up every design aspect of the Ralali product (website and application). Why? Because before I joined, they never had a lead for the product design team. So my primary focus is on discussing my team’s current problems and learning about the current situation.
Every team or tribe in Ralali has its own UI/UX designer who is in charge of the product that team is working on. They will work closely with the product manager and front-end engineer. Because of that, every UI/UX designer in Ralali works individually and focuses on their team’s product.
It makes consistency and documentation a major issue. Every designer has their own aesthetic and working style. It makes some mockups on Ralali products inconsistent. Another problem is documentation. When a designer resigns and forgets to put their file on Google Drive, all the files just disappear, and the new designer needs to make a new one.
So what I did first was to start a weekly meeting for the product design team, make a UI kit (design system) for all of Ralali’s products, and for every new product or feature thereafter, the designer had responsibility for making the UI Kit. Aside from the UI Kit, I created a new page called the master page, where I collected all of the mockups that were already live, so that every designer knew which mockup was already live and which was just an idea.
For documentation I’m looking for a tool other than Google Drive for documenting all sketches (Ralali uses Sketch for mockups) in one place. After searching and trying some tools, we decided to use PlantApps (it was like a Google Drive for sketch files). As a result, each designer can download the most recent sketch file and upload the most recent version.
Aside from those two issues, I created a new workflow for UI/UX designers that begins with a design sprint, followed by the creation of a wireframe, a mockup, review, user testing, and quality checking to ensure that the live product looks exactly like the mockup.
Unlike UI/UX designers, UX researchers do not work in a team or tribe; they collaborate as an UXR team and research whatever they want. The problem was they never really had any focus or direction for what they wanted to research, and when they did something, they just documented the research and saved it for themselves.
The first thing I did for this team was make the work flow. Because there was no one on Ralali prior to UXR, no one knew what they did or what they could do. So I decided to use the consulting system for this team and make a small sharing session to introduce UXR to the product and tech teams at Ralali. At that point, I explained what they could ask UXR to do, what kind of research they could ask for, and what flow they needed to follow when requesting research (I created a simple flow so UXR can document the progress from request to planning, research, and presentation of results).
Aside from that, I create research plan templates in order to make them more standardized and easier to use in the future, documenting all the research and categorizing it by product and time. It makes it easier to search later.
activity as a lead.
Following the completion of the new work flow and documentation system, I turned my attention to our intern, or new employee. At Ralali, we have an intern each year for every team, and new employees are more random.
What I do mostly resembles what I do on the UI/UX team, clean up the work flow and documentation. I make an onboarding list, a team and product introduction, sketch (our main design tool) and other important tools tutorial, and some other learning material that can help them on their day-to-day tasks.
In my daily activities, I work with the product manager to discuss new products or improve existing ones. We do design sprints, usually for 3 days, to determine our background, goals, wireframes, and mockups, then do user testing with UXR.
Sometimes I test new tools or sketch plugins to improve the efficiency of the product design work process, or I discover new research tools or methods to improve UXR skill by trying new things that are applicable to Ralali’s product.
Other than that, mostly what I do is have discussions with my team about design or research while guiding and reviewing their work, as well as facilitate collaboration with other departments
Corona arrived unexpectedly and disrupted the majority of the company’s operations. Every company is forced to do all their work from home, and in Indonesia, work from home (WFH) is rarely done, so most companies do not have any system to maintain their stuff while WFH.
At first, Ralali had a system to check in every morning at 9 a.m., where every leader needed to have a check-in meeting with their team and submit it to HRD. However, after a few months, it felt unnecessary to do so and to give leaders the freedom to do what they needed.
As someone who has worked remotely before (and have many experience working freelance online), I am not new to WFH. So when it happens, I make a new system to manage my team while they are WFH.
I start with doing small meeting (daily) with everyone on my team to communicate what they will do today, any problems they may have, and whether they need any help from others. It helps me track their workload and fix any problems quickly.
To increasing collaboration between remote worker, I try some new tools like Miro to make online discussion easier, maze design for remote user testing, etc.
Working with Ralali for more that four years now, I have got many new experience from how I manage my team and how I growth as a lead, because this was the first time I was in B2B industry and lead more than 10 people (my most team count in Ralali was 20 people, including intern).
Half of my time in Ralali was during Corona virus and I need to lead my team while they working from home and still maintain the workflow and communicate with other department. But I grateful to have a great team whom stick with me until now, so I don’t need to worry about recruit new people.
For now I still working day to day to manage my team, collaborate with product manager team and engineer to maintain all Ralali products or features and enhance the current product.