By Xinyi Zhang, CPO of DecorMatters

The story begins with the question of how I have become a product designer. 

I’ve always felt the desire to bring practical solutions to the world, guided by creativity and the idea that everyday activities can be anything but boring. I’m passionate about all sorts of designs that trigger me and motivate me to deliver problem-solving results that can impact the vast majority of society, improving their daily lives. 

The battleground I chose for myself was interior design, but I realized that the interior decorating process is prolonged and has various pains throughout, both for interior designers and customers. I wanted to create an unshakeable bond between my passion for design and its practical application, bringing true impact through my passion. Only then I learned that this is an important lesson for other industries, too.

Make the magic happen

One thing is sure – designing and building an app from the ground up is not a piece of cake, but the taste of victory after facing and conquering all the challenges is priceless. How did I manage that? Learning from the community was vital, and these were the ingredients: 

  • Observing how people interact with the product in real life speaks to their needs and preferences. So,  always be on the way of thinking about how the product can be more accessible for people while aligning with your business goals.
  • Getting valuable insights from the user side helped cultivate a mutual understanding. Your customers are likely full of great ideas to show an openness for interaction, engaging with them not only as a product designer but also as a user!
  • The last part would be to respond to those clever customer inputs and transferring those ideas into actual pragmatic solutions through well-thought strategies.

Bonding with the community of users, connecting with them, and listening to what they have to say is a process. Hard, challenging, cross-functional process – but once I saw the results, I knew it was all worth it in my core.

Own your pathway

If I were to summarize my self-development process in project design management in one word, it would be ownership. How so? I own every design decision, so I had to learn more and more, bringing better solutions to existing problems every time. I had to manage to work among cross-functional teams, fluctuating between the ups and downs of human communication. 

As a team, to keep up with deadlines of every project development stage, we had to be fast, efficient, and well-organized. So I said to myself: For a team that runs as smoothly as a well-oiled machine, I needed to truly take over the wheel and highlight the team’s pathway by:

  • Optimizing the internal processes so that everyone was clear on the objectives and responsibilities
  • Clarifying the tasks, communicating them in the most transparent way possible to ensure progress
  • Empathizing with teammates and staying open-minded to others’ voices to achieve a good working environment through creating open organizational culture.

As a strategy, the structure of processes and managing communication pipelines within the team are crucial for progress. Still, I never forget why I do what I do – simply because it’s my love and passion.

Love what you do

I am one of the decor lovers. I create and upload my designs every day, building my community up. I interact with other users, share my passion, get inspired and motivated by others.

One of the things I value the most is receiving so many lovely stories from the community. During my most hectic days, when I feel the ground is crumbling beneath my feet come back to those, remembering all the good words I received. It brings me extra motivation and reminds me to keep moving forward.

Some users have been with us since the beginning, and it makes me really grateful that we keep growing together. I see people having both friends and enemies in the community, some people recover from mental health issues, some quit their job to chase their dream, there’s a 12-year-old boy chasing his interior design dream… Being able to witness that is precious, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Keep the balance 

What do I do to get disconnected, recharged, and relaxed? Being in nature, hiking with the family, doing yoga, reading, and praying every morning – those would be the key factors to ease my days and reset my mindset. 

As strange as it may sound to you, a vital part of my process was solving design problems while sleeping. A lot of dust can settle during a good night’s sleep, so once you are rested, you might be able to reflect on your ideas better, get a new perspective, or actually realize how cool they are!

Last final tip: Don’t forget to keep learning, developing, and being humble. Have a role model at different stages of your life, listen to mentors’ and teammates’ feedback, and truly acknowledge their words.