The unexpected path from hairdresser to product designer.
Emma joined Funnel in the customer success team back in 2018. At Funnel she has been a product specialist, a product manager, a UX researcher, and now a Product designer. Few people know as much about our product or organization as she does. I met her to talk about what the design department is all about and what they have been able to do.
You have had several roles here at Funnel - how and why did you end up in the design department?
We need to rewind to my career as a hairdresser. I have always been service minded and worked with service because I enjoy making other people happy and satisfied. There was no grand plan when I was 15, or even 25, that in the future I would work in tech and design. It is something that grew on me. At some point, it dawned on me that I could be making a great product and solving problems on a bigger scale. By doing that I would be making people happy and satisfied in other ways than what I was currently doing. In design, that is what we do. We try to understand the experience of something and make that experience better.
None of this would have happened if Funnel was not Funnel. I did not necessarily actively seek new opportunities. People here are very good at seeing skills in others and challenging them. I had a 1-to-1 with my former manager, Sven. He told me that Funnel was starting a design team that was going to do many of the things I was already doing. The design team needed people that knew Funnel, knew our culture and ways of working. Sven asked me if I was interested and here we are 1.5 years later.
Funnel is on the path of setting the design culture - what do you feel your impact has been?
Back in 2021, it was me and Ross, and Anna that joined the Design team as Funnel old timers, just as Eric Idebro joined as Chief Design Officer. Stay tuned for an interview with Eric soon!
In the new design team, there was a need for people who knew the ins and outs of the product but did not necessarily need to be super skilled in design. That suited me well as I am still quite junior in my design career but have a long Funnel career. When I started at Funnel, I did not have any education in product management or design at all. But during my time here I have been able to attend courses and learn from others as I go. That is how I learn best anyways. I am not a book person, I need to experience and put things into practice.
During the 4.5 years at Funnel, I’ve had 4 different roles and have been helping our customers for a long time. It has given me the opportunity to build relationships and trust across the organization. I believe that is crucial when introducing a new function and way of working. My biggest impact on the design culture is probably sharing my learnings from product development, organizational, and cultural perspective. We had expert designers that joined us and, hopefully, we as a team were able to make them feel safe and create their own relationships. By doing that, design was able to work closely with the organization and help Funnel to create even more value for our customers.
The field that Funnel plays in, marketing data, can be quite tricky to fully grasp. It sure was for me. When we brought in fantastic designers many of them needed to learn more about the problem Funnel solves. As I’ve had several customer-facing roles, I know a lot about the product. I was able to help onboard them and continuously deep dive into the nitty-gritty of how the product works.
In short, my ambition has always been to build bridges in the organization and share knowledge with my colleagues.
You have facilitated several design workshops recently - what would you say are some success factors for a good workshop at Funnel?
It is a good question. I think it is to take part in a lot of them. What is key is to understand what works well and what does not. In UX you need to empathize with the user and with workshops, it is the same. You need to sympathize with the attendees.
Until a year ago I had never facilitated a workshop. I started by attending a lot of them and picked up what worked well and what did not. Things as when there were more breaks needed, to know when and how to proceed, or when there was confusion. I am not a “template person”. I grabbed things from the successes and mistakes I saw, and have been trying to incorporate that into what I do.
In what way have the design team and the Product designers been able to improve the user journey of the Funnel Product?
It is always a tricky thing to zoom out and see what you have done. But a lot of focus has been on dead-end UX and trying to remove that. That is something we have been working on and are on a good path forward with.
But how have we helped? It is hard because design has only had this amount of focus for the last 2 years. The user journey includes a lot of things. Design strives to make the whole user experience better. We needed to create personas and map the user journey. To understand the users and the buyers better, I believe we conducted over 150 structured customer interviews last year.
At the same time decide how we as a design team would like to work together. Both as a team, and also collaborating with other teams. If we look back, all those things are in place now. We have been able to create an incredible amount of things in 2 years.
What does your day as a Product designer look like?
But typically it looks like this - I sit with my team, consisting of four Fullstack developers, one product manager, and me. We start the day together in a meeting. Here we set the goals we have for the day, and everyone is welcome to listen in and chat if they need something from us.
As a designer, I do not only create fantastic sketches or decide where all the buttons should be. I do not hand over my design to the developers for them to just code whatever I have designed. Instead, we work as a group. We need to combine the knowledge and perspective of the developers, product managers, designers, and of course customers. That is how we create customer value.
We test new ideas often, sometimes they succeed and sometimes they fail. When they fail we learn from it and experiment again. That is how we build a good product and get value faster.
In your 4 years at Funnel, what is your favorite memory?
Oh wow, that is a tough question. It is hard to only pick one. Besides the bi-annual pub crawl that myself and Tim Rydell host, I would say it is becoming close to so many people that are now lifelong friends. One thing that sticks out to me is from my first few months. I was asking questions to different people in private messages. They told me, in a very kind way, that I should be asking the questions in open channels. It had nothing to do with them not wanting to help me. They told me I would get help faster in the open channels, and other people might benefit from the answer too. This approach helps information and knowledge sharing across the entire organization. It requires a lot of psychological safety, but it is what helped me build that confidence. I have always felt safe at Funnel which is essential for my work-life growth.
Click here to read more about our design team and open positions to team.