Designer Spotlight: Alicia and the Joy of Collaboration

“Having experience working with a Product Manager and within a team is really valuable to me.”

Nadine Okoeguale
October 29, 2020

There’s a lot to gain from working with other people, you know, working in a team. You’ve probably heard it all before: “Together, ordinary people can achieve extraordinary results;” “Teamwork makes the dream work;” “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much;” etc. As cliché as these sayings are, (because they sure are to me) they are certainly true.

You can tell Alicia appreciates their truth too. Alicia is a Product / UX designer; she studied Graphic Design in college and has worked on a lot of personal projects on her own. (Interestingly, she had actually just completed a personal project when she heard about Co.Lab.) She likes designing web and mobile products just like Eliminate, the app she made to address the challenges she faced with the diet and saw others experience too. Wanting to learn more and practice her skills, she took on a 6-month long project earlier this year, and designed a mobile app for herself based on The Elimination Diet. (If you’re lactose intolerant, you should really check this diet out!)

After that, Alicia worked on a short freelance website design gig and then she participated in a design sprint. For the design sprint, she was paired with another designer and within just 72 hours, they were required to design a product for emergency response. The idea was to design a product that could be used, for example, in the unfortunate event of an earthquake and local organisations needed resources. It was a platform that could be used to publicize their needs to the locals in the area so people could make donations or volunteer their time.

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Seeing her designs fully developed

Alicia was drawn to Co.Lab because of the opportunity to collaborate with people, as she didn’t have any experience working with a product manager (PM) and a developer simultaneously. She was also attracted to the idea of seeing her designs fully developed. As a designer who has been working independently on personal projects, she’s been doing what she knows how to — design. She is someone who enjoys helping people and creating value, so she uses her work to do just that. Alicia anticipated seeing her designs shipped into an actual functioning product that resulted in positive impact on others. In addition to all the above, she also believed she could strengthen her skills even further by joining Co.Lab.

Alicia’s team built GiftHunt, a website that allows people to experience the joys of giving and receiving a gift when they can’t be together in person. It provides a unique experience with text message clues from the gift giver to the receiver. You can write out your own clues or leave it to the website to generate based on the gift’s category.

GiftHunt was designed with Figma, Alicia’s go-to design tool. From her point of view, Figma’s user experience is well thought out with a pretty solid design system. It has good features for collaboration and prototyping. Because of these features, she was able to share her designs with the team as a prototype.

Alicia said that Co.Lab was a good experience for her. Never having worked with a PM before, through Co.Lab, she was able to learn first-hand what PMs do. Alicia found adjusting her design process alongside the PM’s work, and working in a team to be a very valuable experience for her.

It’s no coincidence for Alicia, who’s worked alone for the longest time, that a very enjoyable moment was tuning in to a prototype user testing session conducted by the team’s product manager for obtaining feedback on the product. As further user research, the PM showed users the product prototype and asked them questions for more information. Alicia was happy to get really good feedback which further helped them to tailor their product. She said she’s learnt how valuable feedback is in the design process, especially early on.

Alicia found it extremely worthwhile to collaborate not only with a PM but also with a developer whose contribution helped in determining the feasibility of their ideas. The developer’s input helped in figuring out constraints and whether or not their ideas were buildable. Eventually, they were able to create more realistic goals to work with.

Not always a walk in the park

Alicia wished communication with the team was easier as they were all working remotely and participating in Co.Lab part-time which made communication a bit more difficult. They had weekly Google Meet calls but for someone who needs a little extra time with processing information, Alicia had a problem — but it was nothing her lengthy Slack posts couldn’t fix. After the meetings, Alicia went over their discussions, a process that led to new ideas and a number of questions. She would articulate her thoughts appropriately and share them with her teammates in one lengthy Slack post. Co.Lab helped Alicia develop her communication skills which assisted her in staying in sync with her team. There’s a lesson here from Alicia for anyone in a team: Don’t be afraid to use your words to communicate with others.

She’s really happy to be a part of the Co.Lab community. Although she didn’t interact much outside her team, she felt everyone was very supportive on Demo Day (the day designated for teams to present their products) with really brilliant comments. She wished there was a social event for everyone to really get to know each other and network.

Alicia is currently busy updating her portfolio working on case studies for GiftHunt and her emergency response product. Boosted with a new experience shipping products and collaborating with a PM and a developer, she’s really looking forward to finding a full-time opportunity soon!

Alicia was part of the September 2020 cohort of Co.Lab. For more information about Co.Lab, click here.

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