Devin LuBean

Product Design Leader

Designer Growth Matrix

One of the greatest challenges with growing as a product designer is the breadth of skills and knowledge that designers should be familiar with, especially at smaller organizations.  At Domo we were always in need of T shaped designers, that had general familiarity with design skills, but had at least one area where they were a subject matter expert.  Domo has 7 major product pillars so imagine needing at least one designer per pillar and have them be efficient with general skills, and a deeper capability in the type of skill that is needed for that pillar, for example if the pillar is more technical like data transformation tools versus something visual like a dashboard design tool.

I have the goal that each designer, after they have left Domo, will remember their experience as a time that they had tremendous growth as a designer, and this project, and the design expedition project, are major parts of achieving that goal.  When I started at Domo, designer tenure averaged about 1.5 years.  Today, the average tenure is 5 years, and I believe the focus on learning and growth is a major contributor to that improvement.

For this project I worked with a colleague, Dillon Winspear, to come up with a way to make sure that all the designers on the team attained the general skills starting as junior and core designers, then decide on and develop their T portion as senior designers.  To do this we developed a designer growth matrix that managers would use with their designers largely on a yearly basis, with quarterly check-ins.  Each year a designer would review the matrix, then together with their manager they would score it, then set quarterly goals throughout the year to work on gaining new or deepening skills.  As leaders we provided time each quarter for designers to work on those skills, as well as resources, like online course access, books, weekly training sessions, yearly conferences, and more.  It took many solutions to achieve the ultimate goals of the matrix, but the matrix served as a record of progress for the designers and for managers a way to nurture and motivate all of their reports.  Below you will see an example of the matrix, the specifics blurred as properties of the Domo design team.