Spotlight on Product Design - Meet Riccardo
A great product isn't just functional, it's a joy to use. At GetYourGuide we know this, so our design team plays an essential role in shaping our product.
One equally creative and avant garde member of our design family is product designer Riccardo. He joined GetYourGuide almost 2 years ago. Since then, he's helped catapult our brand and native apps to the next level.
We sat down with Riccardo to learn more about what motivates him on a daily basis and why he loves his job.
Riccardo, what made you join GetYourGuide 2 years ago?
Riccardo: I was attending the Tech Open Air 2014 and heard Emil, now our VP of Product, talk about GetYourGuide’s product discovery process and customer experience.
It was very inspiring, which is why I grabbed him right after to hear more about the company and the product team. Later that night, I spotted an open design position with GetYourGuide. So I went for it - think I sent in my application the same day.
What do you love most about your job?
Riccardo: Hands down, the people! I work with a bunch of very talented people who are all experts in their domain. At the same time, we are always curious, questioning things, exchanging knowledge and learning from each other. This approachable, openness really makes it a pleasure to work with everyone. You can see people enjoy their work - and that’s contagious.
Another great motivator is we're unified in working towards the same goal: "turning our customers’ trips into amazing experiences".
So you would be up for grabbing a beer with anybody in the company?
Riccardo: For sure. But only if we can exchange the beer for wine. :) Actually, we already do this on a regular basis. Every Friday there's Pizza and Beer after work. It's totally relaxed - we hang out and chat. It is a great chance to get to know people from different departments or newbies. And sometimes the crowd moves onto a different bar or restaurant to continue the fun. A lot of friendships come out of our regular hangouts.
What is a typical day like for you?
Riccardo: On a typical day, I come in (often later than I would like to) for my team’s morning stand-up. We share what's happened the day before and identify what we'll work on today. We also take care of any blockers, resolve issues and answer questions. Then I grab a coffee and continue my quest towards zero messages in my inbox.
After that, it’s time to get to the real juicy design work. If I'm working on the very early stage of an idea I'll often pull over the whiteboard and start sketching my thoughts out. This becomes the basis for a quick brainstorming session with my product manager, engineers or both. It allows us to create a common understanding of the purpose and goal of the idea or feature.
Once we agree on what we want to achieve, I create a quick prototype of the whiteboard sketches using Sketch App. I use standard components from our library.
I'll then get feedback from the team on the prototype, then refine it. The best way to get feedback on a design is to simply print it out and put it on a wall. This makes it visible, draws people's attention so they stop to consider it - sometimes without intending to. That sparks a lot of great conversation that allows me to lay down some basic components and behaviors.
To illustrate interactions, I normally use InVision. If they have to be more sophisticated, I switch to Framer to illustrate how I imagine things will behave. To ensure the usability is great, I share click-dummies with my team, other colleagues inside GetYourGuide and outside testing platforms like usertesting.com.
What’s the next step?
Riccardo: Once the final scope of a feature is mapped out, our team meets to break it down into the smallest testable pieces. We identify what's essential for it to be lovable, not just viable. We also pinpoint the nice-to-haves and the not-needed to prove our hypothesis.
After all of this, I put my final designs into a ticket (story) on our scrum board, along with all the assets and specifications for both iOS and Android. We'll have another quick discussion about the ticket in our planning session before it moves into implementation.
How long does it usually take from first idea to the feature being live on the app?
Riccardo: It varies a lot based on the size of the feature. The design cycle normally takes around a week. The implementation takes another week. And after submitting the new version to the app store, it can take up to another 2 weeks for Apple to approve. Android is much quicker. So around 3-4 weeks until an idea sees the light of day.
The way we split our feature releases always shows a noticeable change for our users, not just back-end improvements.
Once this is out – how do you know it's working?
Riccardo: We monitor performance very closely in Mixpanel. We know what people are tapping so can immediately see when a funnel is broken. This helps us evaluate the customer journey through a certain feature or flow. In addition to the more behavioral metric from Mixpanel, we also A/B test new features.
After a few weeks, once the data set is big enough, we can see which version performs better - the one with the new feature or the control version.
The testing and Mixpanel insights help us decide whether and how to push forward with this feature.
Which part of the cycle do you enjoy the most?
Riccardo: Definitely bringing people to the whiteboard and discussing the purpose of the feature. This is the moment we put ourselves into the customer's shoes. We use personas, which represent our key customers, to understand our users’ needs, problems and motivations. This small role-playing exercise helps us to align - and avoids misunderstanding or surprises later on. I love seeing my team embrace these methods more and more. It's exciting!
Editors Note: Besides creating kick-ass designs, Riccardo always finds time to leave adorable, inspirational notes around the office to brighten our days.
Your highlight at GetYourGuide so far?
Riccardo: Definitely our in-destination testing in Amsterdam. The whole team went to one of our top cities to test out the app on-the-ground. It was so insightful to put ourselves in the shoes of our customers. We experienced their joys and frustrations first-hand. Especially when it came to using tickets on our phone. It's such a crucial element that makes or breaks a customer's experience. Living through the worry of wondering will it be accepted or not, created great empathy and understanding about what travelers goes though.
Back in Berlin, we collected all of our learnings and started implementing solutions as quickly as possible.
What tools do you use on a daily basis?
Whiteboards!!!!! — my #1 tool, if you haven’t noticed by now. :P
Sketch App for visual designs
InVision and their new extension Craft to create prototypes right out of Sketch App
Framer JS for more refined prototypes showing micro-interactions
Illustrator for icons or occasional brand illustrations
usertesting.com for usability insights
Mixpanel to look at real user behavior and the flow
Dropbox to sync files with my team mates
What advice would you give a new designer starting at GetYourGuide?
You'll want to do a lot of things but you need to focus and prioritize. It's key to success.
Embrace an iterative way of working. We know there is no such thing as a perfect solution. So you can always refine and improve the design. And remember your key hypothesis/value proposition has to be strong.
Always keep your user in mind – don’t design for yourself or for the sake of selling something.
What is your passion outside of work?
Riccardo: Cartoons and animes. My current favorites are Adventure Time, Steven Universe and my all-time favorite South Park because it's so irreverent; I love that. I could go on for ages.
Actually my first dream job was to be a cartoonist. But I didn’t think I was good enough to become a professional so I found a different creative outlet.
As an app expert, what are your favorites apps right now?
Digg —a simple and clean newsreader
Airbnb — great design aesthetics
Instagram — great for stalking other people's lives
Soundcloud — home of my favorite podcasts
Thanks for taking the time to give us a peek into the life of a designer, Riccardo.
Interested in joining our Design team? Check out our open positions.
Interview by Marlene Schufferth, Senior Product Design at GetYourGuide