In NovusNorth’s 1st thought leadership conversation with the multi-talented, Nasir Barday, we discussed what knowledge Product Owners need to arm themselves with as they bring design innovation to their products. Our speaker, Nasir Barday, has deep knowledge in products and UX design for FinTech, Banking, Capital Markets, and many other financial sectors. Nasir has delivered some phenomenal digital experiences for companies like Goldman, Fidelity, Wells Fargo & Citadel, to name a few. We sat down one on one with Nasir to discuss Trends & Opportunities in the FinTech UX Space and how product owners can leverage UX.

NovusNorth is an expert-lead provider of product design, development and delivery services for the FinTech and Financial Services industry. At NovusNorth, we believe that great digital experiences drive great outcomes.

Read the Transcript

Q: What are trends you are seeing in the FinTech Design Space and what do Product Owners need to look out for as we embark 2022?

Nasir Barday

An ongoing trend that we’ve seen is that companies band together to leverage their shared resources. Anything from a KYC system that we worked on a while ago, to market-making systems, to research marketplaces, as well as chat tools like symphony.

People in the industry are getting together, working together and breaking the barriers that you traditionally saw before where institutions didn’t trust each other. Now they’re starting to band together and leverage each other’s efforts.

Another trend that I’ve seen is before there was a big differentiation between the User Experience skill set and the Visual Design skill set when it comes to delivering digital products. Now UX designers are being tasked with getting high visual fidelity into their deliverables so that those become development ready. You’re no longer seeing dedicated visual designer roles. You’re starting to see all that packaged into one role, at least when it comes to product design. This can be done right when it’s enabled by a well-stocked design system.

NovusNorth

The trend that we’re seeing here at NovusNorth is that everything is really geared towards streamlining work. Whether it’s within roles, like UX and Visual Design, or in how do you take on more within the same role. Even on the product management/ownership side, they’re taking on more within their roles, but really focusing in on pulling that brainpower together to get the best results.

Nasir Barday

We’re also noticing that a lot of that is coming from outside of the industry too. I’m a big proponent of specializing. You’re also seeing a lot of these roles getting staffed especially when you talk more about consumer-facing interfaces and products. You don’t necessarily have to be a financial industry veteran to get the opportunity to work on some of these things. You’re seeing people getting hired from Facebook, Instagram, or elsewhere in big tech. So, it’s not just a finance professionals’ game.

They’re successful companies in the space, especially when it comes to consumer-oriented finance, but even institutional finance, they’re using experience as a differentiator. A good experience becomes the basis to measure whether a product is successful or not.

“A good experience becomes the basis to measure whether a product is successful or not.”

Nasir Barday

“A good experience becomes the basis to measure whether a product is successful or not.”

Nasir Barday

Q: What are some opportunities you see in the FinTech digital product space?

Nasir Barday

There’s a lot of change that’s already set into the industry. Change is going to continue as crypto and those sorts of things start changing the landscape.

Anytime that I start an engagement, the first thing that people ask for is the download to Excel button. Right after that, people are asking for customizable interfaces. What I’ve been doing with clients is just saying, “let’s take a step back on that.”

Because what you end up seeing business partners doing when they look to validate whether an interface is successful or not. If something’s missing, they immediately say You know what, I would say something here but you got to download the Excel button. I can use that to sort and filter slice and dice and come up with a detailed query that I want. I can get this in the way that I want it. I would say that the game is over once the user wants to download to Excel because now what is the point of even investing all this time and money into a platform that people are just going to take it out and manipulate somewhere else? It’s one thing if it just needs to get woven into a model which is completely valid. If they’re just downloading into Excel so they can customize the dataset a little bit more those things can easily be folded back into the platform. And then in the same way, when we talk about customizability that’s another crutch.

“The game is over once the user wants to download Excel”

Nasir Barday

“The game is over once the user wants to download Excel”

Nasir Barday

If you’re just trying to get something that fits your workflow better. Let’s get within two standard deviations. Those are the kinds of customizations you want to do so that by the time it hits your desktop, you don’t feel like you need to manipulate the thing just to get it working, and it matches how you wanted to look at it in the first place.

On the topic of Excel, this is a little bit further out. But as data science and quant skills become a little bit more common in the industry and among the workforce. We’re going to start seeing Excel get supplanted eventually by Jupyter Notebooks. So your competition is no longer just the second-best tool for everything itself. That whole notion of a download to Excel button becomes connected to an API and be able to create customizable queries through an API.

So the next tool that sits alongside the platforms that we’re building is going to be Jupyter notebooks and using Python to grab datasets in a more democratized way. As you have more data science skillsets and more quantitative skills set on the front lines, the kinds of data that we need to visualize are not just going to be scale or numbers. They’re going to be ranges of numbers, they’re going to be a probability distribution. So the challenge is going to be how do I show you that the system thinks that this value is here with this level of confidence?

We have some standard visualizations like box and whisker plots, violin plots, other ways to show those distributions but I think there’s a lot of opportunities to think beyond those. Further, when we were looking at single numbers right now, they happen to just be simple averages. What is the average across this large set of numbers? Data scientists are more and more telling us that medians are the best way to show that. Medians account for outliers. If you see that your mean and median are way off, that tells you that an outlier is shifting the mean a certain way disproportionately and the reason I bring that up is we want to make it clear. Do we have to just say that this thing, the median versus the mean, or can we be a little bit clearer that there are some outliers that are chipping this one way or another?

All of this is kind of summed up by talking about managing complexity. When someone talks about how a certain financial problem is complicated. All they’re really saying is that the complexity is poorly managed. When it comes to managing complexity, there’s a standard UX principle, what do people need to know in the moment that they need it? How do you provide those details on demand? Bring those up to their fingertips, so that the complexity is managed. So now you end up with a deceptively simple interface that shows you the basic numbers but it’s not too watered down because now becomes something that can expand out to other values that you can dig into.

Additionally, the opportunity is around making financial experiences safer. When we talk about logging in and the simple things like authentication. As crypto-assets start becoming more common they’re going to need design problems figured out. The biggest one is these things called YubiKeys. These are going to start to become your two-factor authentication device. We’re going to move away from SMS text messages as the thing that comes in after you get to your password to use a hardware device like Yubikeys. They can also become something that we embrace and weave into the experience. We want to make people safer as they’re transacting out on the internet and Web3 as it develops. We need to account for these other types of hardware devices and other authentication apps like Authy and Google Authenticator. They become part of our experiences.

There’s a lot of stuff that’s happening in the industry – and when we process change, the reason it’s so painful, is because it’s processed in the same part of your brain that pain is processed. It’s no surprise, that it’s hard to get people to change their behavior and to embrace shifting trends. While all this stuff is happening, and I’m talking about these being opportunities, I don’t want to make light of the fact that these are hairy problems that we need to put attention to.

Q: What’s your what’s your take on adding hardware to be more secure, rather than encapsulating it all within one device?

Nasir Barday

The problem with having an SMS-based two-factor authentication is that the phone itself can be compromised. It is a behavior change though. So now when I’m talking about logging into my bank accounts or making a trade online, I have to reach into my pocket or go find my key. It also means that I can have a second one of these hardware keys somewhere else in a safe location. If this breaks down, instead of a phone getting compromised, or lost, you at least have a backup copy somewhere else. It’s not going to be something that happens overnight. In the crypto community, these types of ways to stay secure are becoming more common.

NovusNorth

We’ve been in the space for almost two decades now and the bar keeps rising. I’ve always said if you’re staying still, you’re already behind. It’s the change you have to get comfortable with and make that part of your day-to-day.

Q: What does design with a product vs. production mindset mean to you? What direction should teams be moving in?

Nasir Barday

Maybe you’re part of a team right now, where the activities that you’re doing are pretty much keeping the lights on. Very transactional, super tactical. So how do we get to a place where you’re a tactical-based UX team, to effect real strategic change? That’s the dream, right?

“Set up teams so that they are not only resilient to change, but energized by it”

Nasir Barday

“Set up teams so that they are not only resilient to change, but energized by it”

Nasir Barday

We can set up teams so that they are not only resilient to change but energized by it and feed off of change happening in the industry. Rather than trying to make some interventions that ease the transition. What I mean by that is, as designers, when we do our research, we become part of the front lines of understanding what are those shipping trends? What are the changes in behavior? How are the needs of users changing? Something as simple as, what are the types of screens people are using on their desktops? What are they leveraging? How does the mobile constellation work with that all the way through to how is the actual nature of the work changing? What does it mean for a certain asset class? What are the workflows that happened back and forth for the work as it shifts?

The design team is really well placed to enable users and to make the case strategically for what the payoffs can be for embarking on the new projects to address the changes that are happening. There’s a lot of disintermediation happening in the industry. All of these are things that we can be out there sensing now, is having a telescope onto the horizon. Taking that back to our teams and saying, “Hey, these are some trends that we’re noticing and here are some cool things that we could do.” To do this right you need sponsorship in your organization. There’s just no way around having someone in the company that’s being your champion for the team. It is really important to have somebody in leadership that’s being a champion for design and making the company itself, more product-led. Design is no longer nice to have. Design is the key part of any product that defines whether it’s successful or not. Does the product have empathy for its users? Does a service have empathy for its users? Is it really matching? How are people working?

Q: Why is Design more than just a cost center?

NovusNorth

Thinking about a product and design within a product is the end game. It’s not just how are we going to do the work. Let’s set the stage or path and then the work we’ll figure it out as we go. Everything is doable at this stage. We just need to know what we want to do. Seeing design as a cost center or as a means to the end isn’t the right way to look at the design. It’s seeing design as an integral part of that final result in that final product. Design is your differentiator. How many times have you used a product and the designs terrible, and you move on to the next competitor product within like a few minutes even less. We’ve got such a little time period to make that difference? If you’re considering Design as a cost center then you’ve already lost your customer.

“If you’re considering Design as a cost center then you’ve already lost your customer

Nasir Barday

“If you’re considering Design as a cost center then you’ve already lost your customer

Nasir Barday

Nasir Barday

This constant use of the word innovation, it’s almost become a currency in the industry. Innovation is such a lofty term but you really can make innovative ideas come out less of an accident. You can make innovation, less of an accident and more like breathing like a routine thing that happened just by having this shared empathy across the team. Design is also really well played to make sure that the rest of the team knows what’s happening. The idea doesn’t just have to come from the design team. They can and should be collaboratively arrived at with the rest of their team. Design plays a very big leadership role in surfacing those opportunities, and figuring out how to address them with innovative solutions.

Q: How can you organize a Design team to make the most of it?

Nasir Barday

The operative word is partnership. The three legs of a stool, you have your business or product, you have engineering technology, and you have design. Those are the three elements of what makes a successful product. How do you get there? The shape of the UX team can vary greatly. You can have anything from a team of one (a lone ranger). All the way up to a fully functioning team. That’s kind of a service organization that’s lending out its talent on a consulting basis. And then there are other models to where you can matrix those designers into the organization. So you have a community of Practice. And those people are kind of deeply embedded in the various verticals, and they meet on a regular basis to keep their blades sharp from a craft perspective. But there’s definitely a couple of ways to organize the team to be successful.

Q: What is a Design Maturity Model?

Nasir Barday

A big part of it comes down to sponsorship and how much backup you have from the rest of the organization and how much investment they’re going to have. When there’s a smaller investment, it is kind of a scrappy, smaller, smaller executing team that has kind of limited in the scope of projects that can take on. Sometimes it’s just an experiment, I would say that’s the beginning. Where UX is seen as more of a tactical, sometimes an after-the-fact kind of thing. When you’re that small you’re a team that’s trying to win that sponsorship from the larger organization. You’re kind of doing the window dressing and trying to establish credibility for design within the org.

As it gains a little bit more traction, you end up with somebody in leadership that starts becoming a champion and starts building out that team and creating a parallel structure with engineering. You have designers paired with product paired with engineering, and then eventually growing that team out to a larger community of practice. So then if it’s firing on all cylinders, you have a reporting structure that goes all the way to the CEO with very few steps. In a very design mature organization, the CEOs themselves will be reviewing what’s going out and affecting the experience of their customers. There’s a big evolution from what we used to think of as a UX practice, where it was kind of this walled garden of we’re going to focus on interaction design and behavior, and where visual design that support the UX practice are separate roles, and finding those who could do both were unicorns. Now we’re starting to see that with the support of a design system, the people on a UX team are being pressed into production-ready wireframes. When we talk about designing products, people are being tasked with not only coming up with what those behaviors are, but also getting those things polished up and ready for development to build and partnering with development to execute on the details.

Q: How do product owner shifts the maturity model in the right direction? What are the building blocks that product owners need for a product design team to be created?

Nasir Barday

It’s really important as you’re building a product design team, you start with the talent. That’s especially important here, as you’re building credibility for design. If you’re trying to make the case for making a larger investment. You have to start with talent that’s really good at executing. The common adage we use in the design world is the T-shaped skillset. What we mean by that is people who can practice across the different specialties such UX research, Usability Testing, Validation, Interaction design, Visual Design, Motion Design, all of those elements. People should be able to do every element of that. And that doesn’t mean that you have to be an expert at everything but should be able to do it so that when you’re executing as a smaller team, all that can get done at some level. Within these teams, talent starts to specialize in certain skill sets. You’ll have a T-shaped designer who happens to be more focused on behavior and interaction design and another person who’s more focused on visual design.

Q: Why should the NovusNorth team look out for?

NovusNorth

It’s a matter of knowing what needs to get done. Sometimes you need help setting up the right team. NovusNorth has done this quite a bit. We’ve come into clients, helped them get to their v1 product launch. Then we helped our clients develop that UX practice, hire and build the teams and standards.

Nasir Barday

The thing that you get with NovusNorth is a super-fast executing team. I mentioned earlier, the key ingredient of a successful design team is talent. You’re going to get top talent with NovusNorth. They are not interested in building a dependency on them. They are not going to make you feel like you need them to continue to execute on the product. What the team can do is help you get to results quickly and at the same time, help you build up a team so that you can continue to build that talent internally. We’re talking about a partnership in the true sense of the word. Being proactive about solving problems that you’ve started discovering, get fast executing, build a team, get that going internally, and then start thinking about the next problem. What I know about you guys is you are really interested in getting those problems solved in a quick way, getting your clients up to speed so they can start solving those problems themselves and then helping your clients figure out what’s next.

“Quality results come from being transparent and collaborative with our clients

“Quality results come from being transparent and collaborative with our clients

Q: Why Select NovusNorth as your Design Partner?

NovusNorth

At NovusNorth we believe results drive outcomes, not just getting the work done. What Chief Product Officers should look for in a design partner, is a partner who knows that quality results come from being transparent and collaborative with our clients. We put being a trusted partner at the forefront of everything we do. Transparency is the means to becoming a trusted partner. Change is processed in the same part of your brain as pain, and we want to guide our clients through that change. Change can be hard, especially if you’re a large organization. To have a Sherpa that has been there and has gone through changes with large organizations. We want you to hold our hand we’ll get you through it. We know the route. At NovusNorth we are that partner that will get you through to the end, and then we make sure that you can survive once you’ve gotten there.

Nasir Barday

If you are someone in a leadership role, who’s trying to add a UX team or are a Chief Product Officer / Head of Product, the thing that you get with the NovusNorth team is fast results. NovusNorth is a team that wants to help you and work with you truly a trusted partner on what’s next for your organization.

In NovusNorth’s 1st thought leadership conversation with the multi-talented, Nasir Barday, we discussed what knowledge Product Owners need to arm themselves with as they bring design innovation to their products. Our speaker, Nasir Barday, has deep knowledge in products and UX design for FinTech, Banking, Capital Markets, and many other financial sectors. Nasir has delivered some phenomenal digital experiences for companies like Goldman, Fidelity, Wells Fargo & Citadel, to name a few. We sat down one on one with Nasir to discuss Trends & Opportunities in the FinTech UX Space and how product owners can leverage UX.

NovusNorth is an expert-lead provider of product design, development and delivery services for the FinTech and Financial Services industry. At NovusNorth, we believe that great digital experiences drive great outcomes.

Read the Transcript

Q: What are trends you are seeing in the FinTech Design Space and what do Product Owners need to look out for as we embark 2022?

Nasir Barday

An ongoing trend that we’ve seen is that companies band together to leverage their shared resources. Anything from a KYC system that we worked on a while ago, to market-making systems, to research marketplaces, as well as chat tools like symphony.

People in the industry are getting together, working together and breaking the barriers that you traditionally saw before where institutions didn’t trust each other. Now they’re starting to band together and leverage each other’s efforts.

Another trend that I’ve seen is before there was a big differentiation between the User Experience skill set and the Visual Design skill set when it comes to delivering digital products. Now UX designers are being tasked with getting high visual fidelity into their deliverables so that those become development ready. You’re no longer seeing dedicated visual designer roles. You’re starting to see all that packaged into one role, at least when it comes to product design. This can be done right when it’s enabled by a well-stocked design system.

NovusNorth

The trend that we’re seeing here at NovusNorth is that everything is really geared towards streamlining work. Whether it’s within roles, like UX and Visual Design, or in how do you take on more within the same role. Even on the product management/ownership side, they’re taking on more within their roles, but really focusing in on pulling that brainpower together to get the best results.

Nasir Barday

We’re also noticing that a lot of that is coming from outside of the industry too. I’m a big proponent of specializing. You’re also seeing a lot of these roles getting staffed especially when you talk more about consumer-facing interfaces and products. You don’t necessarily have to be a financial industry veteran to get the opportunity to work on some of these things. You’re seeing people getting hired from Facebook, Instagram, or elsewhere in big tech. So, it’s not just a finance professionals’ game.

They’re successful companies in the space, especially when it comes to consumer-oriented finance, but even institutional finance, they’re using experience as a differentiator. A good experience becomes the basis to measure whether a product is successful or not.

“A good experience becomes the basis to measure whether a product is successful or not.”

Nasir Barday

“A good experience becomes the basis to measure whether a product is successful or not.”

Nasir Barday

Q: What are some opportunities you see in the FinTech digital product space?

Nasir Barday

There’s a lot of change that’s already set into the industry. Change is going to continue as crypto and those sorts of things start changing the landscape.

Anytime that I start an engagement, the first thing that people ask for is the download to Excel button. Right after that, people are asking for customizable interfaces. What I’ve been doing with clients is just saying, “let’s take a step back on that.”

Because what you end up seeing business partners doing when they look to validate whether an interface is successful or not. If something’s missing, they immediately say You know what, I would say something here but you got to download the Excel button. I can use that to sort and filter slice and dice and come up with a detailed query that I want. I can get this in the way that I want it. I would say that the game is over once the user wants to download to Excel because now what is the point of even investing all this time and money into a platform that people are just going to take it out and manipulate somewhere else? It’s one thing if it just needs to get woven into a model which is completely valid. If they’re just downloading into Excel so they can customize the dataset a little bit more those things can easily be folded back into the platform. And then in the same way, when we talk about customizability that’s another crutch.

“The game is over once the user wants to download Excel”

Nasir Barday

“The game is over once the user wants to download Excel”

Nasir Barday

If you’re just trying to get something that fits your workflow better. Let’s get within two standard deviations. Those are the kinds of customizations you want to do so that by the time it hits your desktop, you don’t feel like you need to manipulate the thing just to get it working, and it matches how you wanted to look at it in the first place.

On the topic of Excel, this is a little bit further out. But as data science and quant skills become a little bit more common in the industry and among the workforce. We’re going to start seeing Excel get supplanted eventually by Jupyter Notebooks. So your competition is no longer just the second-best tool for everything itself. That whole notion of a download to Excel button becomes connected to an API and be able to create customizable queries through an API.

So the next tool that sits alongside the platforms that we’re building is going to be Jupyter notebooks and using Python to grab datasets in a more democratized way. As you have more data science skillsets and more quantitative skills set on the front lines, the kinds of data that we need to visualize are not just going to be scale or numbers. They’re going to be ranges of numbers, they’re going to be a probability distribution. So the challenge is going to be how do I show you that the system thinks that this value is here with this level of confidence?

We have some standard visualizations like box and whisker plots, violin plots, other ways to show those distributions but I think there’s a lot of opportunities to think beyond those. Further, when we were looking at single numbers right now, they happen to just be simple averages. What is the average across this large set of numbers? Data scientists are more and more telling us that medians are the best way to show that. Medians account for outliers. If you see that your mean and median are way off, that tells you that an outlier is shifting the mean a certain way disproportionately and the reason I bring that up is we want to make it clear. Do we have to just say that this thing, the median versus the mean, or can we be a little bit clearer that there are some outliers that are chipping this one way or another?

All of this is kind of summed up by talking about managing complexity. When someone talks about how a certain financial problem is complicated. All they’re really saying is that the complexity is poorly managed. When it comes to managing complexity, there’s a standard UX principle, what do people need to know in the moment that they need it? How do you provide those details on demand? Bring those up to their fingertips, so that the complexity is managed. So now you end up with a deceptively simple interface that shows you the basic numbers but it’s not too watered down because now becomes something that can expand out to other values that you can dig into.

Additionally, the opportunity is around making financial experiences safer. When we talk about logging in and the simple things like authentication. As crypto-assets start becoming more common they’re going to need design problems figured out. The biggest one is these things called YubiKeys. These are going to start to become your two-factor authentication device. We’re going to move away from SMS text messages as the thing that comes in after you get to your password to use a hardware device like Yubikeys. They can also become something that we embrace and weave into the experience. We want to make people safer as they’re transacting out on the internet and Web3 as it develops. We need to account for these other types of hardware devices and other authentication apps like Authy and Google Authenticator. They become part of our experiences.

There’s a lot of stuff that’s happening in the industry – and when we process change, the reason it’s so painful, is because it’s processed in the same part of your brain that pain is processed. It’s no surprise, that it’s hard to get people to change their behavior and to embrace shifting trends. While all this stuff is happening, and I’m talking about these being opportunities, I don’t want to make light of the fact that these are hairy problems that we need to put attention to.

Q: What’s your what’s your take on adding hardware to be more secure, rather than encapsulating it all within one device?

Nasir Barday

The problem with having an SMS-based two-factor authentication is that the phone itself can be compromised. It is a behavior change though. So now when I’m talking about logging into my bank accounts or making a trade online, I have to reach into my pocket or go find my key. It also means that I can have a second one of these hardware keys somewhere else in a safe location. If this breaks down, instead of a phone getting compromised, or lost, you at least have a backup copy somewhere else. It’s not going to be something that happens overnight. In the crypto community, these types of ways to stay secure are becoming more common.

NovusNorth

We’ve been in the space for almost two decades now and the bar keeps rising. I’ve always said if you’re staying still, you’re already behind. It’s the change you have to get comfortable with and make that part of your day-to-day.

Q: What does design with a product vs. production mindset mean to you? What direction should teams be moving in?

Nasir Barday

Maybe you’re part of a team right now, where the activities that you’re doing are pretty much keeping the lights on. Very transactional, super tactical. So how do we get to a place where you’re a tactical-based UX team, to effect real strategic change? That’s the dream, right?

“Set up teams so that they are not only resilient to change, but energized by it”

Nasir Barday

“Set up teams so that they are not only resilient to change, but energized by it”

Nasir Barday

We can set up teams so that they are not only resilient to change but energized by it and feed off of change happening in the industry. Rather than trying to make some interventions that ease the transition. What I mean by that is, as designers, when we do our research, we become part of the front lines of understanding what are those shipping trends? What are the changes in behavior? How are the needs of users changing? Something as simple as, what are the types of screens people are using on their desktops? What are they leveraging? How does the mobile constellation work with that all the way through to how is the actual nature of the work changing? What does it mean for a certain asset class? What are the workflows that happened back and forth for the work as it shifts?

The design team is really well placed to enable users and to make the case strategically for what the payoffs can be for embarking on the new projects to address the changes that are happening. There’s a lot of disintermediation happening in the industry. All of these are things that we can be out there sensing now, is having a telescope onto the horizon. Taking that back to our teams and saying, “Hey, these are some trends that we’re noticing and here are some cool things that we could do.” To do this right you need sponsorship in your organization. There’s just no way around having someone in the company that’s being your champion for the team. It is really important to have somebody in leadership that’s being a champion for design and making the company itself, more product-led. Design is no longer nice to have. Design is the key part of any product that defines whether it’s successful or not. Does the product have empathy for its users? Does a service have empathy for its users? Is it really matching? How are people working?

Q: Why is Design more than just a cost center?

NovusNorth

Thinking about a product and design within a product is the end game. It’s not just how are we going to do the work. Let’s set the stage or path and then the work we’ll figure it out as we go. Everything is doable at this stage. We just need to know what we want to do. Seeing design as a cost center or as a means to the end isn’t the right way to look at the design. It’s seeing design as an integral part of that final result in that final product. Design is your differentiator. How many times have you used a product and the designs terrible, and you move on to the next competitor product within like a few minutes even less. We’ve got such a little time period to make that difference? If you’re considering Design as a cost center then you’ve already lost your customer.

“If you’re considering Design as a cost center then you’ve already lost your customer

Nasir Barday

“If you’re considering Design as a cost center then you’ve already lost your customer

Nasir Barday

Nasir Barday

This constant use of the word innovation, it’s almost become a currency in the industry. Innovation is such a lofty term but you really can make innovative ideas come out less of an accident. You can make innovation, less of an accident and more like breathing like a routine thing that happened just by having this shared empathy across the team. Design is also really well played to make sure that the rest of the team knows what’s happening. The idea doesn’t just have to come from the design team. They can and should be collaboratively arrived at with the rest of their team. Design plays a very big leadership role in surfacing those opportunities, and figuring out how to address them with innovative solutions.

Q: How can you organize a Design team to make the most of it?

Nasir Barday

The operative word is partnership. The three legs of a stool, you have your business or product, you have engineering technology, and you have design. Those are the three elements of what makes a successful product. How do you get there? The shape of the UX team can vary greatly. You can have anything from a team of one (a lone ranger). All the way up to a fully functioning team. That’s kind of a service organization that’s lending out its talent on a consulting basis. And then there are other models to where you can matrix those designers into the organization. So you have a community of Practice. And those people are kind of deeply embedded in the various verticals, and they meet on a regular basis to keep their blades sharp from a craft perspective. But there’s definitely a couple of ways to organize the team to be successful.

Q: What is a Design Maturity Model?

Nasir Barday

A big part of it comes down to sponsorship and how much backup you have from the rest of the organization and how much investment they’re going to have. When there’s a smaller investment, it is kind of a scrappy, smaller, smaller executing team that has kind of limited in the scope of projects that can take on. Sometimes it’s just an experiment, I would say that’s the beginning. Where UX is seen as more of a tactical, sometimes an after-the-fact kind of thing. When you’re that small you’re a team that’s trying to win that sponsorship from the larger organization. You’re kind of doing the window dressing and trying to establish credibility for design within the org.

As it gains a little bit more traction, you end up with somebody in leadership that starts becoming a champion and starts building out that team and creating a parallel structure with engineering. You have designers paired with product paired with engineering, and then eventually growing that team out to a larger community of practice. So then if it’s firing on all cylinders, you have a reporting structure that goes all the way to the CEO with very few steps. In a very design mature organization, the CEOs themselves will be reviewing what’s going out and affecting the experience of their customers. There’s a big evolution from what we used to think of as a UX practice, where it was kind of this walled garden of we’re going to focus on interaction design and behavior, and where visual design that support the UX practice are separate roles, and finding those who could do both were unicorns. Now we’re starting to see that with the support of a design system, the people on a UX team are being pressed into production-ready wireframes. When we talk about designing products, people are being tasked with not only coming up with what those behaviors are, but also getting those things polished up and ready for development to build and partnering with development to execute on the details.

Q: How do product owner shifts the maturity model in the right direction? What are the building blocks that product owners need for a product design team to be created?

Nasir Barday

It’s really important as you’re building a product design team, you start with the talent. That’s especially important here, as you’re building credibility for design. If you’re trying to make the case for making a larger investment. You have to start with talent that’s really good at executing. The common adage we use in the design world is the T-shaped skillset. What we mean by that is people who can practice across the different specialties such UX research, Usability Testing, Validation, Interaction design, Visual Design, Motion Design, all of those elements. People should be able to do every element of that. And that doesn’t mean that you have to be an expert at everything but should be able to do it so that when you’re executing as a smaller team, all that can get done at some level. Within these teams, talent starts to specialize in certain skill sets. You’ll have a T-shaped designer who happens to be more focused on behavior and interaction design and another person who’s more focused on visual design.

Q: Why should the NovusNorth team look out for?

NovusNorth

It’s a matter of knowing what needs to get done. Sometimes you need help setting up the right team. NovusNorth has done this quite a bit. We’ve come into clients, helped them get to their v1 product launch. Then we helped our clients develop that UX practice, hire and build the teams and standards.

Nasir Barday

The thing that you get with NovusNorth is a super-fast executing team. I mentioned earlier, the key ingredient of a successful design team is talent. You’re going to get top talent with NovusNorth. They are not interested in building a dependency on them. They are not going to make you feel like you need them to continue to execute on the product. What the team can do is help you get to results quickly and at the same time, help you build up a team so that you can continue to build that talent internally. We’re talking about a partnership in the true sense of the word. Being proactive about solving problems that you’ve started discovering, get fast executing, build a team, get that going internally, and then start thinking about the next problem. What I know about you guys is you are really interested in getting those problems solved in a quick way, getting your clients up to speed so they can start solving those problems themselves and then helping your clients figure out what’s next.

“Quality results come from being transparent and collaborative with our clients

“Quality results come from being transparent and collaborative with our clients

Q: Why Select NovusNorth as your Design Partner?

NovusNorth

At NovusNorth we believe results drive outcomes, not just getting the work done. What Chief Product Officers should look for in a design partner, is a partner who knows that quality results come from being transparent and collaborative with our clients. We put being a trusted partner at the forefront of everything we do. Transparency is the means to becoming a trusted partner. Change is processed in the same part of your brain as pain, and we want to guide our clients through that change. Change can be hard, especially if you’re a large organization. To have a Sherpa that has been there and has gone through changes with large organizations. We want you to hold our hand we’ll get you through it. We know the route. At NovusNorth we are that partner that will get you through to the end, and then we make sure that you can survive once you’ve gotten there.

Nasir Barday

If you are someone in a leadership role, who’s trying to add a UX team or are a Chief Product Officer / Head of Product, the thing that you get with the NovusNorth team is fast results. NovusNorth is a team that wants to help you and work with you truly a trusted partner on what’s next for your organization.

Exploring what’s next?

CONTACT US

Exploring what’s next for your organization?

CONTACT US

Hello and thanks for stopping by!

(Now that you know us a little bit better, send us a message and let’s talk about you.)

Send Us A Message Now

Our Capabilities

We’re ready to help you envision and create great digital experiences that achieve your goals.

About Us

Say hello to the team and get a peek into who we are, our culture, and why we’ll make great partners.

Our Latest Insights

  • Product planning and management requires discipline, practical decision making, and flexibility. Learn how product roadmaps are used to achieve success for both short and long term value-added feature releases to customers for a community bank.

    By NovusNorth

  • The NovusNorth team participated in the 2022 Walk to End Alzheimer's in Scituate, MA. More than 6 million people are living with Alzheimer's today and 13 Million will by 2050.

    By NovusNorth

  • Leading Product in an Emerging industry requires insight and flexibility. Learn more from the Product Director at YellowDog, a leader in cloud workload management.

    By NovusNorth