First Designer In:
The First 5 Weeks Action Plan for FDIs

Week One

Objective: Get grounded in your new reality

Audit of Current State

Complete this

Do an initial audit of the existing brand, products, and user knowledge. Take stock of what you’re inheriting. There is no excuse for not knowing your company and product.

Identify the Players

Start this

Find out who you’ll interact with, their expectations, and their concerns. Find out who owns front-end engineering’s time, and make them your Bestie.

This work is ongoing, and will never truly end.

Prepare To Present It

Complete this

Summarize what you’ve learned from your audit, propose some lightweight solutions, and use it all to draft a plan. Schedule a 30 minute meeting on the calendar for next week to present it.

Week Two

Objective: Get baseline measurements

Hold Meeting

Complete this

You scheduled the presentation meeting last week; now do it. Give folks something to react to, now observe their reactions. Listen carefully and ask questions; this discussion will be pure learning gold.

Collect Data

Start this

Break the Master Plan into four tracks, then collect benchmark data on each:

  1. Product Analytics

  2. Customer Satisfaction

  3. Key Business Metrics

  4. Design Org Maturity

Wrap It Up

Complete this

Do some informal messaging on your earliest data results. Even if all the data isn’t back in yet, it’s okay to just note that. As soon as you have a reasonable amount of information, hit send.

Weeks Three and Four

Objective: Get a quick win

Pick & Ship a Project

Complete this

You don’t know your users well enough yet to intuit what will really thrill them, so focus on whittling down issues uncovered during the audit. Work with engineering to choose something that takes maximum 3 days to build.

Define Proto-Personas

Complete this

“Proto” means quick and coarse grained. Focus on the basics. Any information should be a natural outcrop of the thought you just put into choosing a project. It also serves as a gut check: how does the project you chose relate to your users?

Complete Data Collection

Complete this

If you had any data collection that didn’t get resolved in Week Two, you’ll have to handle it as it comes in. Take a moment to review it, revise the executive summary, and update stakeholders as needed.

Weeks Five and Beyond

Objective: Get strategic

Pick a Strategic Project

Similar to the quick win, you need to choose a project and explore the solution space. Take a little extra time in this initial decision phase because it’s a bigger project. Make a choice which allows you to run a UX study in earnest.

Prep and Shop It Around

Mock it up, describe it, and document it, all in the most efficient way possible. Start shopping the idea around. Gather feedback and adjust along the way. Make sure you’ve got all the buy-in you need to move forward.

Run a Research Project

Plan your UX research projects and begin participant recruiting. Set up your basic research documentation templates along the way, and involve the team. Use what you learn to flesh out your proto-personas.

That’s all folks! Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right?

Need More Help?

For Founders & Investors

Companies getting ready to hire first FDI, or with a designer already on board who could use an assist, I can work with you on getting your company set up for success. You can schedule anything from a single AMA call to recurring monthly help. Check out the options to work with me here.

For Designers

I am available on ADPlist for free mentoring (for designers only). Also, if you haven’t bought the book yet, it’s a great low-cost option to get a ton of info and supplemental swipe files.