Celebrating Progress in the Design Process

Continuing work on a project post-hackathon

One of my favorite parts about design is seeing the slow, but steady progress — when you take a step back to look at the bigger picture, rather than the small details, and find yourself amazed at all that you’ve accomplished with your team.

Back in December, I decided to participate in a hackathon with a few people. It was over the course of one day — very little time to create a functional prototype from start to finish. Instead of abandoning our work at the close of the hackathon, my team members and I have consistently met every week since then to iterate on our solution.

Here are some of those iterations:

Three screen mockups depicting design iterations over time. The mockups portray an electric dog collar app for a dog named Juno.

It wasn’t easy getting to this point. How did we do it exactly? Well, after the hackathon ended, we took some time to look back at what we did accomplish during the 13–14 hours — research, sketching, site maps, moodboards, wireframes, etc. Additionally, since we didn’t have time to conduct usability tests during the hackathon, we went out and interviewed some users. This gave us a solid foundation to move forward with adjustments and iterations to our hackathon solution.

We decided to completely rethink our color scheme based on some feedback we gathered during usability tests. That involved conducting research on other products and looking for some visual/brand design inspiration.

A Figma file depicting explorations around brands, colors, and the theme we were going for with our app.
Brand adjectives and supplementary inspiration
Color explorations one of my teammate’s came up with

After putting together a color palette, we worked as a team to implement that color palette in a few screens throughout the app.

This is a zoomed-out view of our messy design work:

A zoomed out Figma file of messy design explorations.
A zoomed out Figma file of messy design explorations

Different Ways of Working

What I’ve discovered while continuing to work on this app is people have different ways of approaching tasks. There’s nothing wrong with that but I wanted to highlight two things that I think are critical in interface design.

Following common interaction and UI patterns

I think this is critical because oftentimes, designers feel the need to create extraordinary designs that don’t take into account common patterns. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. A key thing that always helps me out when designing screens is doing my research on other apps. One of my favorite resources for that is called Mobbin.

I also think it’s important to find a balance between not reinventing the wheel and using existing patterns. Part of being a designer is having the freedom to explore different avenues and to be creative. All in all, making intentional design decisions and backing those decisions up with research is what’s key.

Being systematic

I find this a great way to exhibit quality and it shows that you’ve taken a thoughtful approach to how you layout information. As an early-career designer, one of the best things I’ve done for myself is learning about and incorporating systematic practices into my work. It has also led me to become very interested in design systems.

Looking back at all of our iterations so far, the point I want to get across is as designers, we’re always learning and accomplishing more than we think. Sometimes I feel we don’t give ourselves enough credit. For me, design is all about finding a balance between the fine details and the bigger picture. Whatever progress looks like to you and your team, I think it’s always important to take the time to learn from others, celebrate wins, and also accept failures and mistakes.

Overall, I think continuing to work on this project has been a great way to further my skills not only in design but in terms of team collaboration and communication as well. Two tools that we’ve relied on throughout this whole process are Figma and Miro. In my opinion, they allow for seamless remote collaboration.

How do you celebrate wins as a team or even as a freelancer? Feel free to comment below!

A detail-oriented product designer focusing on design systems, interactions, and research — celinefucci.com