Migo, a groundbreaking platform designed to transform the way grocery store managers assess their performance relative to competitors, emerged as an ambitious startup project. The platform focuses on analyzing reviews and ratings from diverse sources to provide store managers with a comprehensive dashboard summary. As an external Product Designer working part-time on this venture, my role was to conceptualize the UI, consult on various product design aspects, and contribute to the development of over 10 essential features.
Challenges and Opportunities
1. Limited Involvement in User Research: One of the primary challenges stemmed from my limited involvement in the user research phase. The information flow occurred through the project manager, creating a gap between firsthand user insights and my design decisions. This common scenario in external design collaborations hindered the depth of understanding crucial for effective product design.
2. Unusual Filtering System Design: The design of an unconventional filtering system presented a significant challenge. Lacking direct user feedback, I navigated through assumptions and insights shared by the manager. Crafting a seamless and user-friendly experience in this critical area without direct user input required a delicate balance of intuition and industry knowledge.
3. Iterative Improvements Based on Manager Feedback: Despite the challenges, I continuously refined and improved screens based on feedback from the project manager. This iterative process played a crucial role in aligning the design with the vision and needs of the stakeholders.
4. Lack of Agile Development Process: The absence of a structured, agile development process hindered collaboration with the development team. Limited interactions during development resulted in missed opportunities for real-time improvements and feedback incorporation. A more integrated approach to development and design could have enhanced the efficiency of the project.
What could be done better?
1. Establish a Structured Collaboration Model: In small startup projects where external Product Designers work part-time, establishing a structured collaboration model is crucial. This should include regular interactions with the development team, and adhering to agile processes for continuous improvement.
2. Conduct Initial Discovery Phase: Even in resource-constrained situations, a small but insightful initial discovery phase involving interviews with 2-3 potential or existing users can provide invaluable insights. This step is essential for laying a strong foundation for design decisions and enhancing overall project outcomes.
3. Encourage Direct User Interaction: Encourage Product Designers to interact with users whenever possible directly. This can be facilitated through periodic user interviews, usability testing, or feedback sessions. Bridging the gap between designers and end-users is vital for creating a user-centric product.
Impression and experience 
The Migo project exemplifies the challenges and opportunities inherent in external Product Design collaborations within startup environments. While constraints may limit direct involvement in user research, implementing structured collaboration models, conducting initial discovery phases, and encouraging direct user interaction can significantly enhance the effectiveness of product design efforts. In this context, I emphasize the need for a holistic approach that combines visual design with user insights, fostering a more efficient and user-centric product development process.
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