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Product Design Project Readiness: Questions to Ask Before Kickoff

Are you ready to start a new product design project? Check out our high-level questions to help you assess your project readiness and ensure success.

Heatherlee Nguyen

Heatherlee Nguyen

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As experienced product design consultants who onboard everything from multi-year engagements to quick and dirty month-long projects, we know that no two design projects are alike.

You can have all the project management software, good processes, and excellent technical product owners, but if your squad is not 100% ready and can’t support the product design process, there will be some challenges from day one. The universal truth is that kicking off a project depends on how prepared project managers, product designers, and developers are.

Try it out: Are you ready to kick off your product design checklist and see what your score is?

For this blog post, I’ll share some high-level questions I think you should be asking yourself if you’re part of a design project that’s about to start or a product team that’s ready to scale.

These quick checks can apply to anything: launching a digital program, introducing a new service, redesigning a platform, creating a digital ecosystem, or launching new feature sets. No matter your mission, you want your product design squad as prepared as possible.

To check your project readiness, you and your squad should be asking all the questions…

  • Are the scope and budget nailed down?
  • Have we defined what needs to be designed?
  • Are goals clearly defined?
  • Who is needed?
  • Is everybody aligned on the vision?
  • What does success look like?

From a project standpoint, here are some quick questions to answer if you’re kicking off a UX or product design project and want to check how prepared you are.

Project Readiness ✅

For the director, program manager, or other stakeholder to consider before starting a product design project.

  • Is there a designer/design team assigned? (Who’s designing it?)
  • Is there budget and/or time allocated for this work? (Are there deadlines/milestones?)
  • Is there documentation of the problem or set of tasks/flows to design? (What’s the scope of work?)
  • Are the project goals clearly written up?
  • Is there persona documentation/user research to start with? (Who are we designing for?)
  • Has the development team been identified? (Who’s building it?)
  • Is there a project manager and preferred process our team is following?
  • Are the final approvers/decision makers identified?
  • Are risks, blockers, or project constraints known?
  • Do we have a kickoff/rollout plan?

If you answer yes to most of these you’re in great shape. If you answer no, especially to the bolded items, you need to address these before launching the project.

Product Designer Readiness ✅

The way you answer these yes/no questions will determine how smoothly your project kickoff goes. Go through this with your designer:

  • Do you know the project goals and overall product vision?
  • Do you have access to a roadmap and understand important dates, deadlines & benchmarks for this?
  • Was a brand guide and/or expected visual style shared with you for reference?
  • Do you have access to end users and subject matter experts for ongoing discovery & validation?
  • Is there time and budget allocated for ongoing research and user testing for this project?
  • Do you have competitive research and other market data to help inform this work?
  • Has relevant analytics, KPIs, and other historical benchmark data been shared with you?
  • Do you know who is approving designs and who should be included in regular sessions?
  • Do you have access to the preferred design program being used for this?
  • Is there a UI toolkit, component library, and design system to help guide you?
  • Is this project set up to prioritize accessibility and inclusive design best practices?

Sometimes, it’s the designers' job to turn a no into a yes. It can be on you to get those boxes checked! For example, doing user research and creating persona documentation may indeed be part of this project, a task for your role to complete.

Remember: There’s no right or wrong way to start a new project. Great designers will take these questions with a grain. They will plan and pivot their workflow based on the current state of the project. It’s important to remember what your strengths are and how to fit into any project situation as a product designer. No’s don’t mean the project can’t start—they simply direct you to your first priorities.

How has the lack of readiness affected your team? Personally, I’ve been on projects where I wish we would have double-checked certain things were in place before starting. Something as simple as goals not being defined or as serious as not having a research budget could make or break a project. Great product designers are ready for anything. Bitovians have enough experience to know each project is unique, and facilitating pathways to get the answers needed is a big part of job.

How do you know you’re ready to start a product design project?
Do you use design checklists?

Check your readiness! A new tool in the works

We care about how prepared you are when you start a new project, so we’re building a tool for you to check your readiness score and raise up concerns before the project kicks off. Check back later for the link to our Product Design Project Checklist here in this and future blog posts.

In the meantime, join our growing community and let us know: Do you use a design checklists? How do they help your team, and how can this new tool benefit you?

Let’s design this tool together, Join Bitovi on Discord!