Dual design


Originally published on Medium
Written together with Eivind Kjellevold

This is an article about co-creation. It is co-written with my friend and colleague Marius Hauken . My name is Eivind and we both work at Stacc as user experience designers in the fintech space. The inspiration for this post came from a project we are working on together.

The tool we’re using at the moment — Figma — is an online collaborative design-tool. It means we are both working in the same document, at the same time. The whole team can follow cursors in real-time and see what everyone is doing, inspect design or export assets they need.We can copy, iterate and discuss our project in a way that was impossible a short time ago. The design document, the prototype, and developer handoff is all the same thing. Always.

Sometimes we even chat in Figma, drawing text-boxes and typing right in the document. Because we can see everyone‘s cursors, we know when we are looking at the same thing.

Co-creation is so powerful, that it has totally changed our view on how design-teams are set up and how much our clients are gaining by hiring not just one, but two (or even more) UX-designers on one project.

I cannot see how we ever managed to create good stuff before Figma , and we will never, ever, ever go back to working offline!

I don’t think the new bank ( www.bulderbank.no ) we’re designing would be half as good without a truly collaborative design process. One of us will come up with a new idea. The other one will argument against or refine it even more. One can sketch out new stuff while the other may clean up the design to make it more consistent. We can work remotely and speak about the design as if we were sitting right next to each other.

I will leave this here for now, and let Marius take over for a bit — and when we are finished the end result will be better than what we would do on our own. I don’t even have a real plan for this article, but I know we will end up with something. Probably something good.

In writing, pair-writing has been a thing for a long time. Same for programming. Developers have seen the value of pair programming for years. It’s useful for learning, it makes cleaner code, the code is finished faster and the end-result is more maintainable. I would argue that the same holds true for pair-designing. It’s great for learning, for developing multiple ideas, to sharpen the design process and for tidier and more maintainable design systems.

Two designers is ten times better than one, and this dual approach is something we recommend our clients consider, especially on projects of scale.

Tools like Figma makes the design process even smoother. You can remotely pair-design and discuss issues, while simultaneously easily involve the whole team in the discussion without interrupting everyone’s work day. The real time collaboration and openness these tools enables really makes a difference. The team feels more like… a team, and our clients are included and gets faster and better results.

Good design needs to be challenged. It needs friction. It needs to be refined and tested. Only then can it become great.