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Exploring DesignOps Team Structures

Post by
William Griffiths
Exploring DesignOps Team Structures

Exploring DesignOps Team Structures

DesignOps can be tricky to navigate when you’re first trying to string everything together, and we understand that. So, as you continue your journey towards dominating the design world, we figured it’d be good to run through a few essentials within your design team and the structure you’re putting together. After all, it never hurts to be thorough.

When building out different parts of your business, it can be easy to gloss over the design side. After all, their job is to be creative; you think getting out of their way is the best route forward. Alas, that isn’t the case, and we can all but guarantee some structure will undoubtedly reduce the number of headaches you experience daily.

With that being said, let’s dive into the good stuff.

What is a design team?

A design team is about so much more than just the designers and the content. A dedicated, committed team can take an initial vision and develop it into something extraordinary - but they need support. While the creatives are busy embodying everything the client wants from the brief, the team operates at an entirely different level.

When you’ve got a team with natural diversity in how they approach the business, you can tackle different projects and organisational needs from a hundred and one different angles. It’s about setting schedules, working to deadlines, and always ensuring constant communication.

In our view, it’s as if you’re building your version of the Avengers. You’re bringing together the corporate with the arts, and when you mesh those two things together, you get a pretty powerful result.

Possible design team structures

There are many different ways to form your perfect design team structure, and picking the right system depends entirely on your goals for how you want to operate. As such, we’ve decided to list a couple of set structures that we’d recommend closely examining. Of course, you should remember that they vary depending on your flexibility, the nature of your work and your desired hierarchy.

Embedded

With the embedded structure, employees from different departments form a team and will report to an overall team leader. In this option, you can have designers, developers, engineers and more all in the same team.

Centralised

A centralised design unit sees an expert oversee the activities of those in the design team, usually given the title of ‘design manager’ who has the most authority before reaching the executive stage.

Contractual

If you’re a smaller company or don’t have a design expert at the helm, this is the direction you may go in. You’d be hiring an external team for a set, contracted amount of time to create designs for a certain project or product.

Flexible

The flexible design structure is less intense, with team members forming cross-functional collectives. From there, each team is managed by a team leader, with designers able to move from one to the other.

The primary responsibilities of a design team

It somewhat goes without saying, but there’s a lot to think about within the core foundation of a design team. There are a lot of responsibilities on the table (we know, as is the case in most jobs), and you need to know how to divide and conquer. For those who don’t know, though, we thought it’d be a good idea to run through some of the things we consider particularly critical.

Creating design concepts

Yes, it will sound obvious, but it all starts at the point of conception. Your team will put together concepts for a particular product, hoping to incorporate fresh and unique ideas to sell yourself as a valid alternative. Whether on paper or some kind of online software, this is where the adventure begins.

Collaboration

When you’re in the midst of the design portion of the job, it’s not uncommon for designers to collaborate with others to reach the target audience and get a different perspective on what you’re trying to create. When there’s a collaborative effort, you get crucial input that can (positively) change the entire piece's trajectory.

Troubleshooting design problems

Unfortunately, nothing runs perfectly 100% of the time - and that’s just the harsh reality of life. With that in mind, you need to have someone on hand who is ready to troubleshoot design issues. You have to look at every piece of the puzzle and work out the correct specifications, and if errors or problems arise, there needs to be a dedicated team member who can step in.

Market research

In design, trends are changing daily - and it makes sense that you should take part in extensive market research to account for that. If you want to get a specific message across, go out there and look at some similar examples for inspiration. Either way, being in touch with what the public wants to see can’t hurt.

The benefits of effective design teams

Having people on your side is essential when you’re in an industry as demanding as this one. While you can have all the talent in the world at your disposal with a group of designers, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll function well in a team. There needs to be confidence, there needs to be structure, and there needs to be trust from everyone involved.

One of the most critical benefits of a great design team is the ability to align an organisation’s values with the product. When you’ve got that kind of team cohesion, you give off a professional aura that immediately increases your credibility - and, over time, will also increase profits while simultaneously reducing your production costs.

When you’re faced with decisions in a high-pressure situation, there’s always someone on hand to deal with it in some capacity. It offers reassurance, comfort and the kind of solid work ethic that will appeal to future candidates. When organised to this degree, it frees up your time and allows everything to run like clockwork.

Our final thoughts

When forming your perfect design team structure, there are many things to consider. How big is the team? How long have they worked together? What goals are you looking to accomplish in the near or long term? Once you’ve set the steps to answer these questions, you’ll be well on your way to success.

You need to implement the strategies that fit your model, provide quality design tools at every possible opportunity, prioritise quality development and maintain your team's efficiency no matter what. It all sounds like a lot to take in, but trust us, if you can put in the time, your company will reap the rewards in the long run.

As for us here at Hatchly, we remain dedicated to providing world-class assistance through our unlimited graphic design platform. If that sounds like something you need, check out our website - and feel free to get in touch!

Read also: Designops Maturity

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