Amal Tapalov
Amal Tapalov
Leadership

The Newcomer’s Guide to the Design Team

Download Free Figma Templates: The Newcomer’s Guide to the Design Team

I believe design is best done in the open. After taking some time to ensure a transparent culture internally, we realized we wanted to share our methods with the broader design community.

Main reason

Everyone feels a little anxious about being a new member of the team. There are plenty of ways to organize and manage a team to keep the working process smooth and everyone happy. But there’s one aspect not everyone can see and touch: the work environment.

I believe that as long as you’re being positive, you’re being productive, and based on experience I definitely know that a warm team atmosphere is already half of productivity success — especially when the team is growing. With this in mind, we decided to create the Newcomer’s Guide to the Design Team to help new hires get situated.

Where is it located?

I started this project by first thinking about where to place the guide. Initially, we considered putting it in our all-in-one project management platform Wrike, but then decided to keep it in Figma for our internal usage in the creative department. The main reason was to provide easy access without a learning curve for new hires, because every designer knows how to use Figma nowadays.

In the guide, I added pages on: team responsibilities, tools, meetings and sync schedules, team capacity and ETAs, processes, contacts, workflows with timelines, and marketing metrics for digital design.

Team responsibilities

I describe team responsibilities, which include designing new web pages, updating existing ones, creating display ads, and reviewing assets. Of course, new hires are told of these responsibilities during the interview process, but it’s always a good idea to have everything documented.

Tools

I understand how frustrating and time consuming it is to ask around and search for certain assets, services, and useful tools. That’s why we compiled everything we need and use on a daily basis for easy access.

Team capacity and ETAs

New hires often ask how long tasks take and how many they can handle during a given week. There are known cases when new designers overwhelm themselves with too many tasks, leading to burnout, and that’s definitely not what the team and company wants to happen. To avoid this, we decided to define team capacity. It helps to walk new hires through approximate time frames for each task type and give them a clear overview of ETAs.

Processes

Team processes are definitely rocket science 🚀 (just kidding!).

Not every company documents their processes and workflows. It isn’t ideal for new hires to have to ask a colleague and manager the same question, only for them to give different answers. Having a single source of truth eliminates confusion and ensures new hires start off on the right foot.

On this page, we describe our processes and best practices for designing web pages and doing reviews. We also describe our custom creative workflow, which helps us and stakeholders track tasks and be on the same page.

Contacts — getting to know each other

I recently came up with the idea of table game cards for each team member so we can all learn more about one another, like our favorite design tool, whether we’re a night owl or early bird, what superpower we want to have, or if we’re an introvert or extrovert.

We also included people with whom we work closely to help new hires see what they look like and which team they work in.

Work timeline

The work timeline is useful to both new hires and the team coordinators who help them with the onboarding process. It lists what to expect for the first three months (probation period) and what onboarding assignments need to be done. These assignments include meetings with different departments, such as calls with HR, IT Operations for necessary hardware, the team lead, and so on.

What’s next?

According to feedback from new hires, the Newcomer’s Guide helped them seamlessly integrate and become part of the Design team. That’s a good sign, but we understand there’s still room to enhance and improve it — I see that in the Learn-Analyze-Evolve framework.

  1. Learn: Take note of the questions that new hires ask during onboarding, and find out what information could be valuable to your team.
  2. Analyze: Use that understanding to fine tune and improve your processes.
  3. Evolve: Create an all-encompassing guide with the valuable information you’ve gathered.

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Amal Tapalov ©/Legal
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