Avi Ashkenazi about Product Scalability

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Today we will try to get the most exciting moments of professional life of Avi Ashkenazi, a product designer, who has worked for Deutsche Telekom on variety of media products, who has created digital products for Samsung, led the design team for FinTech platform Iwoca, and is currently working as a UX designer at the No.1 e-commerce platform for businesses – Shopify. He will talk about product scalability. We hope everyone will enjoy knowing about our guest and his experience.

Avi Ashkenazi started his career as a musician. Then, he dealt with festivals, music, technology projects and installations. Next, Avi worked for Deutsche Telekom on variety of media products. After that, Avi has created digital products for Samsung, led the design team for FinTech platform Iwoca and is currently working as the UX designer at the No.1 e-commerce platform for the business, Shopify.

How to show value of brand through the design

The main criterion for a brand to be successful is trust. Customers need to know and understand that you are who you are, and you have specific values, and you convey trust. The first impression that they see, makes a big difference.

The shower behaves slightly different in the kitchen, and slightly different in the bedroom. But some of the things, the positioning in terms of height of the light switches, will always remain the same.

Branding must be consistent, because this is how you tell your story. If you tell multiple stories, then people will start thinking, is this lie? Is this truth? Is this intention and invested? Trust may be ruined.”

When it's time to understand that you need to start scaling

“It depends on what you want to achieve. Do you want to bring more users? Do you want to attract different users? Do you want to build a new product?”

It must be a constant thorough analysis. It depends on the current state of the product, not always what was successful before could work now.

And, it's quite useful and powerful when you have two or three founders who are from different disciplines, and they can balance each other. Then, you will easier know how to do it, and you can be successful in multiple ways.

Points to consider at the beginning of product design, if you plan to scale your product in the future

It's important when you're building a product to think about scalability.

It's about optimization of all the paths in it and trying to understand what is missing.

People work as a team and understand that there is a specific mission.

People must understand the strategy of the company.

How to work with people as a leader

“I believe in role modeling. If you know about all new things and you know how the team can use them in order to improve themselves, and if you listen to your team, value them and help them grow and give them feedback. If you listen to them, you will learn all that stuff. If you really care. You will hear what they're saying and you will learn about these improvements, and you will cross-correlate. And you will do mixology between people.”

It's about learning and knowing everything that you can, keeping the curiosity going, and learning all these new things and trying new things. But also knowing when it is safe to try. When do you need to do risk?

Product modernization

“Imagine that you have two ways of working: funnel-based and holistically. When you work funnel based, you have different design themes across the funnel. It can result in creating a break in the design system.”

Inconsistency erodes trust

Holistically, I have identified this problem across this funnel. I want to solve it in all different touch bases. And then, you have teams that are problem-based, not process-based. Everything starts getting unified, but you're losing the tightness of the screws of conversion.”

It depends on the state of things; sometimes you need to focus on speed, sometimes - on quality, sometimes on both approaches.

Is a modernization in big corporations, with a few millions of users, different from modernization in small technology companies?

“It's different in decision-making processes, in accountability, often in considerations that you need to have. I think that Shopify is amazing in even though we're huge, we have incredible pace inside. And we're able to shoot things very, very quickly. But I've seen organizations that can't do that, in that size.”

Challenges a designer can face in scalability of the big product like Shopify

One of the best things about Shopify is that, as a designer, you don't need to fight for your life or explain your value.

“In many places you always had to explain what the value of design is? Why is it important? What do you do? Some companies ask for design only because “it is required”, not understanding its purpose.”

Market localization of the product

“We're keeping on building. We are here to help the merchants build their stores, expand globally, and sell what they can online in the most simple, straightforward way that we can. My team is working on localization. It’s quite hard, you need to figure out taxes, shipping, translating your content.

We’ve launched an improvement that allows merchants to talk to their customers a specific language.”

Are there any unique elements of the product design system that cannot be included in standard frameworks?

“When you work for a specific product, you know what is best for this product”

We make sure that we look at all the potential design systems, the potential components. Can we use them to really make our product in the best possible way?”

Shape Up methodology for building team procesess

“In Shopify we use a variety of methodology that is a secret source of the company. Some things are similar to Shape Up. 6-week cycles are very useful. It lets you be very intentional with what you do and help you plan it properly, and it delivers great results.”

The difference between the organization of design team work in small and huge teams

“There are some huge differences. In small teams you know what everybody does. Huge teams require a lot of coordination, your ability to communicate in writing, in videos; your ability to build concensus is critical in how quickly you will be able to bring your product into the market. In Shopify we have more than 700 designers. Currently I have a small localization team of 5, but generally I lead all 700”.

Avi’s the most exciting aspects of design

Learning new things, I’m addicted to it.

“Things that feed me: podcasts, blog posts, anything that I can get my hand on. It fuels my creativity. I have an urge to create. I still can do, produce music. It’s just a part of me; I can’t just turn it off. It started at the age of about 12, starting with writing, then music, then product design. It’s all about going and trying to build stuff.”

To hear all Avi’s insights of proper scalability and what drives him in his job, listen to our new podcast.

You may also visit Avi’s Medium blog - his design thoughts and the insights from Iwoca, and watch Rebranding your business - short video interview with Avi.