Digital Designer, Wilson Miner, Reveals What Makes A Great Design Team

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Answers by Wilson Miner, Digital Design at The California Sunday Magazine, on Quora.

A: I think the biggest common factor in all the effective design teams I've seen is communication. Not just "we all sit together and talk a lot", although that helps for small teams working on a few things at a time, but a regular discipline of communication methods that the whole team understands and therefore knows what to expect. Weekly design reviews, regular 1:1s with managers, Friday Q&As with the whole company, project status standups, team lunches, that kind of thing. Schedule them, make sure everybody knows about them, and make sure people take them seriously and don't blow them off as optional when push comes to shove.

It makes a huge difference to be able to know for sure that you have something on the schedule soon where you know you will be able to check-in or get an answer or ask for help about that thing that just came up. It lets you file things away and get back to work on something else, without panicing that it's never going to come back around. Otherwise you end up scrambling to get answers now, or set up a meeting, or just try to keep working without the right context, and that can really build up and spreads and disrupts the whole team.


A: When we first started dating right my then-future-wife had just started taking a graphic design class and was starting to do more design work in her job at an architecture firm. I had been working as a web designer for a few years at that point, and was probably pretty know-it-all about what I knew. It created a funny imbalance early in our relationship that led to lots of little arguments and hurt feelings. The first project we worked on together was designing our wedding invitations, which precipitated one of the biggest fights of our relationship... about typefaces.

Since then, it's been a really good learning experience for me as a designer. Up until that point I think I didn't think about other designers I was working with as people with feelings, and could be pretty dismissive with feedback. Working on projects with my wife, and discussing design with her has given me a different perspective on collaboration that I think has helped me grow as a designer. She is also just such a fearless designer, in a way that is really inspiring and humbling to me when I see what she can do that I would never be able to attempt.


A: I'm really enjoying Bitch Planet, a new series by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Valentine Delandro. It is this crazy over-the-top sci-fi feminist exploitation... thing. You can tell she is playing with a lot of the tensions swirling in our culture right now and ratcheting it up and pouring it into this outlandish sci-fi context. They are also bringing in a lot of feminist writers to write really thoughtful pieces in the back of each of the single issues. I usually wait for the paperback collections when I read series, but this one is really worth picking up by the issue.

I also am really enjoying the new Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson. She recasts this iconic female superhero as a Muslim teenager in New Jersey, and just does so much with the story and the characters. It's really thoughtfully done, but also has this gleeful feeling that makes it really fun to read. I also enjoyed the initial run of the new (female) Thor by Jason Aaron.

Some more series with female-protagonists that I enjoyed recently: Copperhead, Lazarus, ODY-C, Low, Paper Girls, Saga, Velvet. Just realizing as I type those that most of them are by male writers, but that is starting to change.

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