It's been about a month since I joined Bearer as its first Product Design intern. While I've worked in different design roles, and it's not my first internship, it's my first time taking a role on a product design team and helping to shape an amazing digital product. Here is my experience in this first month of working at Bearer.
Saying hello to Bearer
Bearer is a completely remote company. This means that everyone has the freedom to work wherever they want. That was one of the biggest attractions for joining the team, because I believe it's the way to work from now to the future. Despite that, I was curious to know if I, as a new intern, would be able to fully integrate and understand how everything works without being in-person with the rest of the team.
Arriving at the company on my first day, everything was already organized. My supervisor is Ombeline, Bearer’s Product Designer. She is responsible for conducting user research, ideating features, wireframing product screens, creating prototypes, testing, and much more. She made an onboarding list that was meant to help me better understand each part of the company and the product before starting my tasks. It turns out that Notion is an incredible tool for that. I could navigate through all the information from all different areas of the company, see my to-do list, and check out what was already done in the past—all in one place, customized for each context.
Studying the market, the context, and the essence of the product before getting my hands dirty was essential for me. As a newcomer to the world of privacy and data security, it was very important to familiarize myself with the area. In addition, as a designer, it is crucial to know the market and the user well to deliver the best possible experience, tailored to the needs of the people that will use our product.
Catching up with Figma
After delving into the theory, next came the action part. My first practical task was to get acquainted with the way the Product Design team works. Here at Bearer, we use Figma to explore different possibilities, create new features, build product screens and constantly share ideas with the team.
I started by creating animations on the components and rearranging some pages. To my surprise, my supervisor gave me free rein to make suggestions on how to improve the organization and layout of elements. This was very valuable to me because from the beginning I realized that my opinion and input would always be considered. After all, despite being an intern, I am part of the team.
My first cycle, which included the onboarding and discovery part, lasted two weeks. Now, knowing the market, the users, the product, and the process, it was time to work on my first feature.
My first product feature
With the start of the second cycle, I had two weeks to complete my first feature, which was the option to manually add components to inventory. Although it appears to be just a button, there are a lot of consequences for everything that is changed in a product.
It was important to understand what would be impacted by the new feature. What would need to be removed, added, or modified in general. For this, the creation of a user flow, which is a visual representation of the steps the user takes when using a product, was important to understand the entire path and the elements involved in each step.
Once I understood the general structure, it was time to begin exploration. As it is a feature based on UI modals, I replaced the user flow steps with the corresponding modals and modified each one accordingly.
At this point, Ombeline made herself available daily for any questions. As it was my first feature, the steps were slower at first. However, after picking up the pace and receiving more frequent feedback, it gradually worked its way into a satisfactory and logical structure.
The next step was to arrange the screens to form a high-fidelity prototype and present it to Guillaume, the Product Manager. That way I made my first feature presentation, where I had to explain my creative process and the reason behind each element. After that, I also presented the prototype to Yaro, our front-end developer, to check if everything was ok. After all, it's a team effort and everyone involved in the implementation needs to be on board. With this last presentation done, I received the final feedback and was able to start working on the feature's hand-off.
The hand-off is the final part to complete the delivery of a feature, where the designer presents the final components, screens, and flow clearly to the team. However, before handing it over to the front-end team to add it to the product, it is necessary to go through a copy review. This is where Mark, our Technical Content Editor, enters the process. After reviewing it, the hand-off can finally be delivered and the feature completed successfully.
After one month of working at Bearer, these were some of my main learnings.
Ask for feedback sooner
It was challenging to be a new designer on the team, getting familiarized with the interface and all the different possibilities within the product. At first, I would be very unsure about each step, working at a slower pace and waiting for the next review to discover I wasn't quite on the right track. After a while, I discovered the power of quick feedback and iteration early. I would work on my own as much as I could, add a few questions, and then ask for quick feedback to improve more efficiently. That way, I could spend less time fixing a lot of work that could have been avoided by knowing the right direction in advance.
Furthermore, design should not be seen as a separate area, but integration with different stakeholders. Our work is not individual but collaborative, so feedback from other areas is just as valuable.
Practice and explore a lot
The best thing we can do as designers is to explore different possibilities. The best solution will never be the first one we think of, and falling in love with an idea is the recipe for failure. Exploring makes us open new doors and better understand our process, stimulating creativity and learning.
Because of this, within the document of each new feature, we always have an exploration area, where we put all the research and possibilities to solve the problem in question.
To explore, it's also interesting to have an area of your own. No judgments. You, your screen, and your notes and graphics. For that, I created my team at Figma (called Julia, the intern). There, I post tips, information and ideas, relevant or not, to consult when necessary.
Have fun and enjoy the process!
The process can be shorter or longer, but the important thing is to enjoy every part of it. There are times when we get stuck or think there is no solution, but the coolest part is that we always get over it. Whether it's taking time to think alone or brainstorming with a colleague, the answers will come. The coolest part of being a designer and working on a product is seeing where you've come from and how far you've come and knowing it's just the beginning of an amazing journey.
Last words (and expectations for the months to come)
This month went by pretty quickly. It seems like yesterday that I got the call to join the team. Bearer has been very enjoyable to work with, mainly because everyone makes it so easy for me to feel included and gives me all the support I need to learn and contribute. Overall, I'm having great experience contributing to building a great product. I'm so grateful to be Bearer's first Product Design intern and look forward to the next few months.