Earlier this week I had design mentoring session with Pete Hotchkiss via ADPList which is a website that connects professionals with years of experience to someone like me with less experience.

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Meet design mentors from over 40 countries for portfolio review, career advice, mock interviews or leadership advice — all in this global community.

I never knew you could find free advice like that online;

His advice was great; because it tried to improve me as a designer; rather than fixing the design problems I had. It was like teaching a guy how to fish; instead of giving him the fish. Which was pretty great. However, I kind of leaned on him to confirm my bias when I was presenting the ideas to my team. Which didn't work in my favour, because it was my bias at the end of the day. You live you learn I guess.

Where mentors can add value?

Before we started; I expressed my concerns to Pete, asking him to provide me with answers to the design challenges that we're facing at Neucruit; the startup I am working for as a product designer / developer. Pete told me two things.

  1. Mentorship is more about prompting you with the questions that you need to be asking; instead of giving you the answers directly.
  2. Clients / reviewers / mentors won't do the thinking for you; you have to do it yourself with your business team.

Understanding our funnel and where people are dropping off

If you're improving the landing page of your website (which is what my main concern was) then understanding the funnel and where people are dropping off is important.

Understanding where you're audicence is coming from; and knwoing what the key strap-lines in the sales messaging there needs to be, is also something that he pointed out.

Establish a core position

Before desinging anything; establishing a core position is vital for designers to be successful in explaining their ideas.

  • Know why are we doing what we're doing
  • What's the underlying strategy that's driving this

Then we can begin to layer in a bit more detail as we go.

  • Who the website is pitched to, and how it's targeted towards that audience
  • Information which has drawn us to this conclusion where actually we're going to slightly pivot

Start with the why

Pete then shared this video from Simon Sinek.

Great marketing is done when the messaging is coming from inside out. That's simons sineks golden circle that explain why to start from why.

  • Why are we doing this?
  • Why have we made this decision?
  • Why have we done these things this way?

Understand the personas and the pain points in the sales pipeline

Understaning the buyer persona is just as important as anything else; but if you already know who is purching from you and the website is not properly marketed to that set of customer then the best way to fix this is to understand the pain points in the sales pipeline.

What they value? What are you selling? What they need and want?

Plan for the future

  • Understanding long term goals and aligning design decisions with it;
  • Ask your team what are the bigger picture plans are, like three, and five-year plans strategically for how the business is going to go because that means that then you can refine those questions
  • If the long term vision of the business is to go over in a direction; design plays a big part in steering that

Iterate fast; get something out there

  • Don't procrastinate on putting things out there; use google analytics to find the churn rate and develop a funnel, and focusing on conversions
  • Things, like wording, don't need to necessarily be 100% spot on every time.
  • Gets something done, get something up. Get something launched and out, and then iterate on it, test it with real users.
  • What percentage of people who come to the website actually converts
  • What percentage of people start the application process.

tl;dr people don't buy what you do, people buy why you do it