Tim Salazar, productproduct designscalingteam building

Logixboard Design

At Logixboard I was hired at the same time as the CTO and served as the completion of the product triumvirate of product, development and design. I was around the 10th person to be hired on the team and was familiar to the world of early-stage startups. I knew the work that I was doing would be integral to setting LXB up to scale in the coming months and years.

For most of my first year at Logixboard, I was doing IC work on the actual product and the product design work was heavy. I established the design system and made updates to logos, chose fonts and color palettes for the UI and the brand, started setting foundations for a brand platform, and generally moving fast with design with an eye on being able to scale all of it as well and set up the proper rationale not just for the tangible design philosophy but also for the intangibles for the culture of the team and the org at large.

The tangibles meant eventually having more robust design system and a design-led initiative to implement Storybook, Figma, and Chromatic to keep the component library and design systems in sync. And intangibles like values for the company.

Scaling the team

In early stage design work, you tend to move much faster than your development counter-parts, with good reason, wireframes, mockups, prototypes—I spent a lot of time talking to customers and showing them ideas and iterating on that then working with development team to quickly build and get it in place. As the design work amassed I could create space between what we wanted to do and what we could plausibly do in our current sprint/cycle sessions. I worked closely with Head of Product to hone our process of diverging and converging on problems and solutions, then quickly turned to scaling the team.

Scaling process

As the team grew, needs grew with regard to cohesion and communication. There were times where our designers were so heads-down on work and working directly with product and development that they didn’t get a lot of time to get feedback from other designers on their work. The team was so entrenched in their own areas of the product that silos began to form and it was apparent—The Design System could only do so much to keep it all together.

This meant increasing process enough to get people on the same page, so we started doing a few things. I’d looked at different models of setting up communication, especially with remote-first mentality and trying to remain asynchronous as possible at the same time as being able to have enough touchpoints to keep people in sync.

Nurturing Growth

The last thing that I’m going to cover here is about how I looked at nurturing growth for the team. Every 1:1 I had was concerned with either career progression, unblocking work, or collaboration issues. The latter was always the hardest to solve; I will get into that later. The first two were easier.

  1. 1:1s: every week, never cancel. Don’t be about status updates. Talk about things other than work. Build trust and rapport. Make folks feel seen, heard, and supported. Always stick up for your team. Give hard feedback when they need to hear it. Be direct. Even more direct than you think you are. These are things that I learned.
  2. Career Progression: End up building ladders for Product, Brand, and User Research Positions, and it help set the direction with which everyone needed to go. It was a useful not just for the folks in those positions, but especially for others to understand what is going on with the position and what to expect. This is especially helpful when folks haven’t worked with dedicated product designers or user researchers.

Product Design Initiatives were something I wish I’d focused more on. At LXB people became very fixated on what it looks like, and that to a certain extent became what people thought design did, even from a product side. I had to figure out a way to get more collaboration and understanding that the real value was within design thinking and strategic work the designers do. This is important not just for the growth of the company but also growth of the individual designers—They were always looking for more ways to contribute, and putting them on a production treadmill was not the way forward and was unsustainable. Saying No!

What to do about brand/marketing collaboration? Get brand in on conversations early. Build more rapport with those marketing teams. Check-ins and 1:1s with team leads is essential for communication, but even more so with people you don’t frequently work with. I tend to cancel meetings that I don’t have an agenda for, which is probably the right thing, but rather than cancel, it’s probably better to over-communicate things that aren’t going as you expected, and there is usually always something that is being left unsaid. Rather than let it fester, keep the meeting and keep giving feedback about what you think could go better so that you can continually hone the processes. This doesn’t happen enough across marketing/design. This last part is most important, because as a company that is largely driven by sales and marketing orgs, there is no seat at the table unless you invite yourself; especially with regard to these aspects of the company.

User Research Framework: Same lessons—As above, growth was mostly focused inwards, and Planning, Recruitment and execution of Research Interviews (See different types of research levels below)

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