What's Brewing: An introduction to product design at RM
In order for you to decide whether anything you’re about to read carries any weight, I should probably introduce myself. I’m Rob Brewer and I’m a product designer in RM’s innovation team – RM Studio. I’ve been a designer (service and product) for 6 years and I’ve worked in finance, health tech and now education. Oh and another thing, I’m kind of a big fan of movies. That may or may not become apparent as you read on…
Like the scriptwriters of Game of Thrones or Lost, I have no idea where this article is going to go. I’m starting this before I know what the ending is. I guess that’s quite apt really, given that I’m a product designer in RM’s innovation team. Not knowing what the right answer is, is generally where I spend most of my time. That’s not because I’m completely incompetent, but because it’s the nature of being a product designer.
Is that where this is going? That was fast.
Before we can design a product, we need to know what the problems are. Like a newborn baby, we know nothing (Jon Snow) so we need to learn. Our parents are the users, they need to teach us about the world we’re about to enter and shape our understanding of it.
Take exam malpractice as an example. By talking to the right people we learned that identifying malpractice in exams is really difficult. The growth of remote, on-screen assessment has also meant that some traditional security measures are no longer as effective. What is also apparent is that exam collusion is one of the leading forms of malpractice taking place and candidates are employing various methods to avoid detection.
You might have noticed that I’m using words like ‘we’, ‘our’ and ‘us’. Product designers are social creatures (or at least they should be). We’re less Terminator and more Avengers I guess. Yes, my job is to design things and I do a lot of that, but a big part of my job is also to enable others to be designers. Anyone can listen to users, contribute to designing a process and have good ideas. It’s my job to facilitate that. It’s probably the best thing about being a product designer to be honest.
Now we know the problems, but what are the answers?
Guess what? We don’t know.
Not knowing the answer can be crippling, so rather than thinking we know the answer, we think about what might be the answer. That word ‘might’ is really important here. We’re not claiming to know what the answer is yet, because it doesn’t exist. The joy of our work is working through the problem to find a solution. We do know what the problems are after all…