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Levelling up with Zip’s Product Design and Research team


Mel Hambarsoomian


November 6, 2023

Levelling up with Zip’s Product Design and Research team

Our ANZ Product Design team is made up of a really supportive, driven, and fearless team of Zipsters specialising in Product Design and Design Research.

We’ve been continuously levelling up our design maturity and team culture, to create memorable experiences for the millions of our Zip customers and our merchants. We’re always iterating on our ways of working and as Zipsters we have a huge focus on our development.

Reflecting on our progress as a team, we wanted to create a three-part blog series in which we share a little more about our team vision and the way we work, highlight work that matters to us, and help others get to know who’s on our team.

I’m Mel Hambarsoomian, the Director for Product Design for Zip in Australia and New Zealand. Our aim with these blogs is to give both current and future Zipsters a better understanding of the work we do, helping them understand whether a career path in Design at Zip is the right one for them.

Let us know what you think, we’d love to hear from you.

Our vision

Cover page illustration for our Product Design and UXR team, 'Welcome to the team'.

As a Product Design and Design Research team, it’s important to have a North Star to guide our work and a blueprint to make sure we’re always staying on track. So we created our own ‘Legacy Statement’, as below:

At Zip, we're designers that inspire to disrupt the status quo & re-imagine experiences to positively impact the world. Collaboration, setting a high bar for quality and data-informed decision making, help us create stories and experiences that stick. As a team, we strive to master our craft and nurture each other to adapt & grow.

Supporting this are a set of shared team principles that lay out our expectations of each other including how we communicate, prioritise, manage our work, and how we show up. These support our company values of Customer First, Own It, Stronger Together, and Change The Game.

We focus on a few things to have the greatest impact on our customers and merchants, and to balance strategy with our craft. We continuously work on our design maturity, work using tri-track agile and build on our craft, and as a team we focus on personal growth and support for each other.

Building our design maturity

Like most design teams, we focus on how to keep evolving our maturity at the highest level. Our designers are not pixel pushers. We are deeply involved in defining and solving problems and looking beyond the screen. We use data, workshopping, design facilitation, and we create design visions so we are thinking beyond today.

InVision's Design Maturity Model, showing 5 levels from 'Level 1 - Producers' to 'Level 5 - Visionaries'. Only 5% are empowering people at level 5.

InVision’s Design Maturity Model.

We recently revamped our problem statement document i.e. our ‘Why brief’, where we start with many ‘whys’. Our 'Why brief' doc template, so people can duplicate and populate fields.

Like Simon Sinek says, we always start with ‘why’. This really helps us to make sure we’re solving the right problems, and that cross-functionally, we are connected to our impact.

To ensure a robust and more objective way of reaching a clear problem statement, our teams lead end-to-end discovery. We follow the tri-track agile model. A recent example is ‘Project Customer Love’ where the team conducted generative interviews with customers. Tri-track agile model by InVision, with a track for delivery with sprints, a track for discovery to test hypotheses, designs, stories, and a track for understanding by observing user needs and looking at principles, personas, and strategy. Our team works on a range of activities in this model to ensure we see things from the customer or merchant point of view. We pick the right design activities for the problem e.g:

  • Contextual inquiries
  • Mapping out our service blueprint with touchpoints including online, instore, and on the phones
  • Desk research and data analysis
  • Flow maps for interaction design
  • Beautiful UI and craft details

Design quality and our craft

Another big contributor to our shared principle of Design Quality is honing our craft. We have a few ways of doing that:

  • We have a dedicated quality working group that works on initiatives to continuously improve and iterate on the our quality processes, including QA and how we groom designs
  • We work on our experience debt, similar to how Slack sweats the small stuff
  • We have a federated model for our design system
  • We have multiple forums for people to get feedback, including our weekly design reviews, 1-1s, async feedback, and we collaborate over jams to solve problems
  • We use session recordings and analytics data to understand friction points we can make better

We need to balance delivering on our strategic goals with refining our ways of working and our craft. This balance means we can have the biggest impact on our customers and merchants, because we are working more efficiently, consistently, and setting a higher bar for the quality of our outputs. It also helps us all shape and own our Team Operations, while helping us grow professionally too. In the third part of our blog, we’ll share more on the work we’re doing.

We always think Customer First

Beyond always designing with our customer at the centre - see our US CEO and Zip Co-founder Larry Diamond talking about our Customer First value - we work very collaboratively with other teams across as Zip and see our role as ‘design and discovery facilitators’.

We regularly partner with Customer & Merchant Services, Data Analytics, Commercial, Marketing, and more. As Designers, we feel this is critical to our overall success as a team because as Don Norman said, “no single discipline can create great experiences on their own”. Collaboration is a crucial component and will continue to guide how we get the best out of each other within the team, and more broadly at Zip.

Looking ahead

I mentioned that this is the first part of three blogs written to provide an inside view into life in the ANZ Product Design and Research team.

Next you'll hear from four of our fearless Designers, who’ll share a little more about their backgrounds, beliefs and passion projects at Zip. In the final article, we’ll share more about our culture and the things we feel may differentiate designing at Zip including a sneak preview into our work.

If you like what you see, you can hear more from me on my Medium, ‘Talking Product Design’ on YouTube and Tiktok. If you can picture being in our team, see our latest roles in the Product team at Zip.

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