Basics for Building a Design Team

If you have ever wondered, how to start a strong design team, you may find some help here.

This is a modified/simpler version of a deck I used for a recent presentation. It's not a technical or even a detailed document, you won't find budget, hiring processes, or role descriptions. I just tried to summarize the basics to start a conversation, and because of it's simplicity, I thought it would be nice to share.

I'm currently working in the media industry, that's why you see mentions of it on the deck, but that doesn't mean the structure should change. A product is the result of people, culture, processes…

By far the most important piece of the puzzle, lack of talented people who knows how to work in a team. This is the foundation, it will set the bar for the overall work environment and culture which directly impacts the final product.

Brand has a different meaning depending on your product, but identity and the way your team explores it, without losing the connection with all the important departments in your company (marketing, research, customer service...) are pretty significant.

Embrace a routine where the broader vision is clearly understandable by your team, so they can absorb and execute accordingly.

The chart below relates to my current field of work. The team would have a head of design that oversees all the products, designers for each product and cross disciplines that support the process (research and prototyping).

As I mentioned before, I won't cover roles description, but we can quickly understand responsibilities with the list below. It's also important to highlight that a Design Director, should be able to cover all the responsibilities of the Senior Designer, and so on.

  • Head of Design: Mandate/Culture/Filter Information/Brand Relationship/Budget/Headcount/Vision
  • Design Director: Standards/Features/Principles/Tools/Vision+Direction
  • Senior Designer: Quality/Deliverables/Use Cases/Ready to test
  • Mid Designer: Flows/Wireframes/Layouts
  • Junior Designer: Assets/Help in General (juniors must be exposed to as many different tasks as possible, so they can not just help, but grow)
  • Researcher: Market Insights/User Testing/Reports (some organizations keep research/insights in different teams)
  • Prototyper: Turn static designs into high fidelity prototypes. Explore transitions, animations and interactions. Prototypes play a big role in user feedback and also as a source for developers.

This slide is pretty self-explanatory, the circle arrow means: keep iterating! Design, test, build, measure… start the process again, and again…

Everything here is adaptable of course, depending on the industry, the size of the company, in-house team, agency… so please, my intention here is not to present it as a one stop shop solution, it will probably need to be adapted to your own reality.

Thanks for reading!




Designer— Host of podcast — Newsletter The Design Edition — Mentor @trydesignlab — Conteúdo (mostly) em Português

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Al Lucca

Al Lucca

Designer— Host of podcast — Newsletter The Design Edition — Mentor @trydesignlab — Conteúdo (mostly) em Português

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