Teams Design: What is and how to ensure team success

Jun 23, 2022Dianne Eberhardt

Teams' design starts with having the right tools. What tools would you use when collaborating with your teams that also work well with designing?

“Creative”, “unique”, and “personal” are design’s three main characteristics. In TDP we see it as an art form, so every designer on our team has a unique work style. One might do an extensive research to find inspiration, while another one might jump into sketching right away. Both approaches are fine, but what happens if these two (or more) partners need to collaborate in a big project?

In this blog post we’ll go through collaborative design and the most popular tools available online to ensure every design department works like clockwork despite having designers with multiple styles, approaches or creative processes.

What is collaborative design?

Canto explains collaborative design as "a process that brings together different ideas, roles, and team members. Collaborative design is a multi-staged user experience process that involves planning and strategy developed by user feedback." This means putting many brains and steps into designing one thing, and then arriving at the best design possible to impress your customer.

What is the importance of choosing the right team for design work?

Dealing with different styles and approaches can create friction between the designers and stall the project at any given stage. This is why collaboration tools are a must, helping teams to achieve:

  1. A clear and effective communication.
  2. A superior alternative to emails as they follow the “show, don’t tell” rule.
  3. A clearer overview on tasks that are being worked on and those that are pending.
  4. More productive discussions over design iterations, effectively saving time that otherwise would be spent in meetings.
  5. Progress tracking and versions reversions.
  6. Productivity enhancement.
  7. Tasks prioritization ease.

What are the main roles and responsibilities of the design team?

Here's a breakdown of the main job titles and responsibilities commonly found on a design team.


The creative force behind the visuals, they create designs based on research, client requests, and guidance from the creative director


They oversee project timelines, budgets, and resources to ensure effective communication between designers, clients, and other stakeholders.

Creative Director

The team leader who sets the overall creative vision and direction. They provide feedback to designers to align the final product with project goals and brand identity.

Customer Support

Also known as Account Executives, while not directly involved in design creation, they play a crucial role in understanding user needs and experiences. They gather feedback from users, which can influence future design decisions.

Types of design team structures

There are multiple design team structures available to choose from. They offer a different approach that aligns with the organization’s size, industry, and requirements. Some of the most popular are:

Centralized design team structure

Commonly found in larger organizations, a centralized design team structure concentrates all design-related tasks in a single department or team across multiple products or projects. This allows for a more consistent look and feel as designers work closely with each other and with any additional stakeholder within the creative design team.

The only downside of having a centralized structure is disconnecting designers with other departments which can lead to a slowdown in productivity when working with the rest of the organization.

Integrated design team structure

The main characteristic of the integrated design team structure is having a designer (or group of designers) assigned to a specific project or product. This is a great approach for agencies that work with multiple clients and projects at the same time.

It allows the design team to work closely with other roles such as engineers and marketers who can provide feedback and suggestions based on their needs that otherwise a designer might not see.

However, having the designers scattered across multiple teams requires a strong communication within the team and the organization.

Flexible design team structure

This structure is characterized by having designers work on multiple projects simultaneously based on demand. Having the possibility to allocate resources where needed can scale design capabilities as soon as priorities or workload changes.

To learn more about prioritizing, you can take a look at our blog post about Product Prioritization Frameworks.

Contractual design team structure

Having freelancers or agencies can be a great way to overcome tight deadlines or complicated requirements. A contractual design team structure can work in any organization where their in-house design team needs an extra pair of hands ready to do some heavy lifting while avoiding the costs of increasing the internal headcount.

8 useful tools to make your design team a success

1. Figma

Figma is an all-time favorite as it bolsters productivity, supporting real-time collaboration where a whole design team can jump in at any given time to work on the project. It is a cloud-based tool, which means any changes are saved immediately online for everyone to see.

2. Mockplus

Mockplus is a cloud-based prototyping tool developers use to build prototypes and wireframes. Mockplus lets users finish a screen design quickly with its pre-built components, icons, and drag-and-drop functionalities.

3. Vectorly

Vectorly facilitates the process of building engaged and productive teams. Vectorly lets you develop skills, share knowledge, understand skill gaps, and do continuous reviews, so it paints a complete picture of the team's skills.

4. InVision

InVision has a product suite consisting of 3 apps, Cloud, DSM, and Studio, which simplifies end-to-end designing.

5. Bluescape

Bluescape offers a secure visual collaboration for any organization. Virtual workspaces enable remote workers to whiteboard online and review work from any room, device, anywhere in the world.

6. Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is the ultimate messaging app for your organization—a workspace for real-time collaboration and communication that allows messaging and video conferences.

7. Slack

Slack is another fantastic communication tool widely used in design and businesses. Slack is more user-friendly, and file sharing is just a drag-and-drop function. Slack's main purpose is messaging, but the overall functionality is much more user-friendly than Teams. Slack is even more secure than email.

8. Zoom

Zoom is also another great way of collaborating with your teams using video. Zoom's in-meeting product features allow you to add such things as annotations on your screen during video calls—a tool for teams working remotely to brainstorm and collaborate quickly. Meeting participants can also add annotations while screen sharing as a viewer or the one that started sharing their screen. One nice thing is that you can use annotation tools when sharing or viewing a whiteboard.

Best practices for building a strong design team

Designers are artists. To get their best work they need to be inspired and challenged in an environment that fosters creativity, growth, and collaboration. These are some of the design-industry favorites to make sure your design team is a winner:

Encourage creativity

Giving designers the freedom of chasing new ideas, taking risks, and thinking outside the box makes them feel valued, trusted, and encouraged. This not only boosts productivity, but it also reduces rotation within the design team.

Brainstorming sessions and problem-solving exercises are a great way to stimulate creativity and instill passion for their work.

Provide quality design tools

Designers are as good as the tools they use to perform their activities. With AI slowly overtaking every single piece of software available in the market, powerful equipment is needed to be at the forefront of creativity and innovation.

The right tools ensure the team has access to the best resources, maximizes productivity, and helps overcome any friction that might come of using outdated tools.

Invest in professional development

Offering access to training, workshops, and conferences are a great way to create a culture of continuous learning and skill development.

Make your design team grow with these tips!

Building a successful design team goes beyond hiring great designers. Sure it’s a start but, it

is only the first step. To ensure post-project success, it is essential to deploy effective tools and processes, mitigating any roadblocks and establishing an environment where creativity and initiative thrives.
And if you think your design team needs new ideas to get started, reach out to us! Our dedicated professionals will help to kick-start your journey.

Dianne Eberhardt

Dianne Eberhardt

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