Mark Enache has been working as a product designer for more than four years and now he is a lead product designer in the ads-tech team at Wayfair. He is an experienced designer who has his own principles and these helped him grow in his career. I want to share his valuable experiences with others to help them get some insightful ideas.
1. Can you describe what a normal meeting looks like with your co-workers?
It depends on who I am working with. Now, I am working at Wayfair, an Ads-tech team. We use “miro” a lot. We usually share thoughts and ideas on it. For example, we want to figure out if the new feature enables the users to do different things, for example, uploading files. We will use the sticky notes of the miro board to collect team members’ thoughts and understandings. Everybody in the team has the chance to contribute to the project. They will leave comments and I will think about what I should do to make changes with the feedback. I also like to use “inVision” to share my designs and get feedback from others. Some other people may walk through the design with sketches or abstracts.
2. What objectives do you aim for in your work?
My objectives are always to do two work, parallel tracks of work. One is to give people what they ask for, that’s how you build relationships, and that’s particularly as an entry-level designer. On top of that, in parallel also give them something extra. Something that you think is better or that will help make a more holistic picture or that will help drive the vision of the company into a more modern way, whatever it is. That’s how you develop your point of view, and that’s also how you help innovate.
3. How do you apply your principles to achieve your objectives?
First, everyone’s creative and everyone has a point of view. I have expertise in design and usability and user experience, so I’m here to bring challenges and help people who are not designers in the team, for example, stakeholders, grow their maturity, and how non-designers work with the design. Second, I am also working with other designers. I am trying to make them more empowered in their own role as experts, and helping them develop their point of view, and be able to pull research and create examples and cases. Third, focus on what is more important and more valuable and will bring a bigger impact downstream.
4. What is the biggest challenge in your work?
The biggest challenges have been working with challenging people. Working with people who maybe are not so mature in how to work with the design. Probably one of the most difficult experiences I had was at a small squad. With a scrum team with two engineers and a product manager. The product manager was passionate. He was great with the strategy for how to drive towards a successful launch, but the product design skills weren’t super there. He was kind of one of those people that isn’t satisfied. I use my communication skills to include him in the conversation and have confidence in what I was working on. I was trying to help him grow his maturity in design and did the best I can to collaborate with him and the whole team.
5. How do you come up with ideas and how do you test them?
I think it’s so much about drawing inspiration from as much as you can around you. And really sinking yourself into what it is that you’re doing. I worked in an agency for a while. You have to do a lot of things, and you might be very productive. You may be able to turn out screens for lots of different products. But I have found that you need to have some uninterrupted time to flow through a creative process in which you can explore. What is interesting to you. And what makes you curious about the problem?It is a real human problem that is an important one to define. For example, in our company, we want to optimize returns on every dollar spent on our ads. That’s great. That’s a business, you know. The objective to lead to a bigger outcome is great. But that’s not really a human problem. The human problem would be people see a lot of ads every day. What type of ad will actually bring the value to them that it’s worthwhile for them to click? You really have to dive into that, you have to be kind of like an artist or a scientist or a really a thinker with it. If I’m really digging into something, and it’s worth putting that time into, that’s kind of how I come up with ideas.
6. How do you iterate products?
There’s a great site called “goodUI.org” and they have some free examples. They collected A-B tests on different usability patterns, for example, Amazon tried putting this button here versus here, like it increased the quicker rate by a disk, so that’s good for data. Product iteration, I think that’s so much around feedback, internal feedback to design reviews. Internal feedback with yourself by taking time to sit back and look at the stuff in front of you and taking an hour to think about what you’re going to do with the project in a creative way. And make notes, basically want to critique with yourself. And then with internal partners, and get feedback from your users or customers. And I think instinct is super important and is something I like to talk about because we’re instinctual about what people’s behaviors are and what people will need and what people will use. In my opinion, it should be for validating or redirecting your instincts. Not for looking for the ultimate perfect solution from the data, because you will never find it. This is a subjective, qualitative field, that it is an art. So I think. The reason I say that is that you know you can kind of iterate endlessly on something, but at a certain point, you have to develop the instinct to say, is it worthwhile or valuable for us to keep.
7. How to critique your co-worker’s work and don’t make them feel uncomfortable?
Everybody had an intention, right? Around the design, you can work with them so you can ask “what are you trying to do here?” or “ what is your intention?” You can give them solutions, or tell more details around what you’re critiquing. You have to force yourself to get specific, basically when you look at something. You should be clear about what parts of the design make it not a good design? You can go about that in different ways, like maybe think about, what would a good design look like? In my mind, if I were to put it up next to each other, and then look at the differences because that’s basically what you want to do is train your mind.
8. Have you ever had conflicts with your team members, like engineers or other people?
For sure, I’m lucky that it’s usually not too dramatic. Everyone is pretty nice. I think it happens all the time. You should know whatever you want to do if that’s what your goal is. And the goal, in my opinion, is that people trust you to lead the design. They trust you to make those decisions. Rather than stress you out with a conflict right now, you could say “let’s do it and see if it’s not a big deal”. I usually say my concern would be from the usability perspective, because “1,2,3..”, some people will want you to bring in research. You could say: according to Nelson Norman group here’s the article, and whatever on why this would be a problem, use quotes in your own research or from your own customers or users. Then the last thing I say will be: okay, well, I foresee this as being a risk, and that it will likely cause “this thing or that thing” to happen. And if that happens, if you can make a case for, hey, let’s keep an eye on this failing and actually show people it did fail, to help build that trust.