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A day in the life of a Product Designer at GoCardless

Who am I?

I’m a Product Designer here at GoCardless, which means I design the interfaces our customers use when they interact with GoCardless products.

At GoCardless, we maintain a number of products that create the experience our customers know and love. There's the dashboard, where our customers control their payments, our payment pages where they sign up new customers, and the admin screens where our operations team provide customer support.

What does a typical day look like?

Just like Ahmed in our Legal team, a typical day for me usually starts with exercise. That might be our weekly ‘GC-Active’ football team kicking a ball around on Wednesday morning, playing squash with some of the other enthusiasts in the office, or just hitting the gym.

Once I’m in, I like to grab breakfast from our well-stocked breakfast bar, and stand at my desk (hipster-startup-style) as I start prepping for and planning my day.

This mostly consists of catching up on emails and perusing our Trello board, where we log and track all the design requests we get from across the company.

Most mornings, around 10:15, I’ll attend a stand-up, depending on what projects I’m on and teams I’m working with. These meetings usually involve 5-6 people, who whip round and give a short status update on their progress over the last 24 hours. The stand-up also provides an opportunity to ask for help if anyone is blocked on something.

Once we’re done with planning and stand-ups, it’s time to get to work!

Because a Product Designer typically encompasses a number of different roles (UI design, UX design, interaction design, user research, data analysis, etc.) what I do in a day can vary quite a lot.

If I’m in the early stages of a project, I might be engaging in some user research. This might consist of me zipping out in a cab — with other members of the product team — and meeting some of our customers to learn about how they use the product and what challenges they face, so that we can go back and fix them.

If we’ve just finished doing some research, I could be editing down the transcripts and video footage ready for analysis. Or I could be in the middle of an analysis session with the rest of the product team, figuring out what insights we’ve gained and how we can turn them into value for our customers.

If I’m further into a project, and have the problem well-defined, then I’m probably sitting (or standing) at my desk thinking about solutions.

At this stage of a project, I tend to start with pen and paper. I’m trying to figure out the different possible user journeys, searching for the ‘critical path’ or ‘path of least resistance’ for a particular flow.

Once these are a little better defined, then I’ll jump into Sketch and start creating screens and prototypes that gradually increase in fidelity as I go. I like to keep feedback cycles really tight as I go through the design phase, regularly pulling in Product Managers, Designers, and Engineers to gather critical feedback.

If we’re really far into a project, and the designs are done and it’s ready to be built, I’ll either have a go at coding it up myself (though my coding skills are pretty limited) or work with the engineers on my team to bring the project to life. We care a lot about our processes at GoCardless, and put a lot of effort into making sure that the Design/Engineering relationship is a harmonious and efficient one.

By around 4/5pm, after a lot of hard, hard work, it’s usually time for a little Design Team FIFA Break™. We have an Xbox set up in the office, with a projector, so we tend to pair up, pick a random team, and just go at each other for 20 mins or so. It’s super fun and provides a great break and distraction from work, which is often really helpful if you’re stuck as you can come back with fresh eyes (though perhaps with your tail between your legs if you just got beat :/)

And that’s pretty much it. A typical day for a Product Designer at GoCardless. Hope you enjoyed reading, we’re probably hiring(?).

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