As a marketer and content writer, Regan is passionate about delivering content that provides value to the reader. In his free time, you can catch him watching the hottest shows on Netflix (but more likely re-watching The Office for the umpteenth time).
There are many roles at Digistorm, and the people who fill them all contribute to building products that over 700 schools use every day to reach their admissions and marketing goals. Join us as we explore some of the interesting and varied roles (and the people behind them!) that help us build world class edtech products.
In this post, we sit down with Annelies Groeneveld, one of our talented product designers. We asked her some questions to find out more about her day to day experience working on our school CRM, Funnel, and delved deeper into what it’s like working as a product designer at Digistorm.
Digistorm has a product team made up of software engineers, product designers, a quality assurance specialist, and a product manager, who all work towards designing and building our products.
It’s the product designer's responsibility to understand our customers and be their voice, while the rest of the team implements new features and improvements. Another big part of a product designer's role is to take away complexity and make the system easy to use for everyone.
Every designer is different, but for me, the complexity of a product is really important. I’m at my best when I get to solve real problems and get pushed every day to grow and become a better designer. It also makes a big difference when you get to work on a product that actually helps people.
I think it’s also important to have a nice balance of following the rules and knowing when to bend around the rules to get something out. If a product designer has to get ten rounds of approval to improve a small thing in the UI, they feel deflated pretty quickly.
Other than that, I think that everyone likes to be on a supportive and friendly team. I feel like I can approach everyone on my team. It’s very open, and communication is quick and easy.
I value having flexible hours, especially with having kids. It’s also nice to have the option to work from home.
If I was searching for a new position, I’d definitely avoid a company who still uses old and outdated software. Because product designers are so tech-centric, having the right tools is essential.
When it comes to company culture, I appreciate a supportive and collaborative environment, and would definitely be cautious of a workplace which places constant pressure on designers to hit targets and achieve deadlines. I also know that a lot of workplaces have a waterfall development approach, which is something I’d definitely avoid.
definitely appreciate the team building and social aspect of a position. At the moment, our team is looking forward to our next event. It’s great coming into the office and seeing everyone, and the social events with the rest of the company are fun too, like our Christmas in July party where we had decoration competitions and other cool games.
Our team has an all-inclusive approach where you can contribute socially as much as you feel comfortable with. We maintain a social connection when we work remotely, mainly through Slack. We send memes throughout the day and crack jokes. There’s also our Figjam online workshops, where we can really collaborate much like we would in real life.
I like that it takes away the commute time, which gives me more freedom in my day to day. Sometimes it’s also good to have a whole day of no interruptions, where I can just be in the zone and get stuff done.
It’s great! If I ever want to validate an idea or an early-stage design, I can go to anyone from any part of the company and they can get me a new perspective on it. Collaboration with the marketing team is also great when a new Funnel release goes out.
And when I’m designing for the support or implementations team, I'm always having little chats with them to get it right. Anyone in the company can get in touch with me at any time to let me know how the users are interacting with the product, which gives me a better understanding of what the users need so the team and I can implement the right changes.
Also, collaboration with company leadership is ongoing, with regular check ups where I can let them know what’s going on with the design work. I’ll just screen share, and they can give me straightforward direction and feedback. It’s not really a formal process, very casual and conversational.
It’s definitely fun! We’re always laughing, and everyone on the team’s always super open for questions. Sometimes I need to validate a new design to make sure it's technically feasible and the data is there, and I feel comfortable approaching anyone in the team. We always want each other to succeed, and everyone has a great way of giving feedback. They also have an eye for UX (which is not always a given)!
Q: What’s the QA process like?
For our design QA process, I feel like we have a really good process. Whenever we finish a design, we can flag it and tag other designers to take a look, and they can easily make comments on Figma. It’s always great to have another set of eyes to pick up something you might have missed, and it’s a very friendly back and forth. It’s a really easy way to ensure consistency and accessibility across the product.
When it comes to our development QA process, we have one person who specifically handles technical QA for all the sprint teams, and who makes sure there are no bugs when we release.
Our approach is that we’re always learning. We’re in a constant process of shipping and iterating and making changes. Sometimes an update or improvement isn’t as well received as we would have hoped for, and there’s never blame assigned. We just focus on moving forward.
I usually interact with users when the occasion calls for it. We do both qualitative and quantitative testing, based on what problem we’re solving or how far in the process we are. The product manager will handle most of the client interaction, and I’ll drive the workshop or usability testing, or whatever else it may be.
After that, we gather our findings, and use them to immediately begin making changes. We don’t always have the need to do formal reports and presentations, which makes it quick and easy to move forward.
There’s a lot of room for growth here at Digistorm, and it’s encouraged! In my experience, in the past I’ve just asked to join things like the NN/g conference, or do a course on a specific subject and the company would organise it for me.
Also, the team’s always open to new tools and software. If I find a new program that I think will improve our workflow, I can suggest it and we can run a trial. We’re currently trialling developer hand over with Figma and Zeplin, which could improve communication between designers, engineers and QA even more!
A big thank you to Annelies for sharing her experience as a Digistorm product designer! If you feel like your experience and values align with Annelies’, we’re always on the lookout for passionate designers who feel like they can make a great fit on our team.