Design Chats

Inside Design: GoDaddy

4 min read
Clair Byrd
  •  Dec 14, 2015
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GoDaddy has more than 13 million customers in more than 35 countries. The Scottsdale-based internet domain registrar and web hosting company has over 30 different products, too, like website builders, online bookkeeping, ecommerce websites, and marketing tools. We’re proud to say they use InVision as part of their design process.

We sat down with Daniel Hardy, Director of Product UX, and Josh Rossman, Director of eCommerce UX, to discuss collaboration, focusing on customer goals, and how their team maintains consistency without much oversight.

How is the product design team set up at GoDaddy?

Daniel: In order to give our customers a consistent experience, we leverage a centralized design team that handles all customer-facing UI. Our team includes writers, visual designers, user experience architects, front-end (UI) developers, and usability researchers.

What’s the structure of the design team?

Josh: We’re a relatively flat group without a lot of layers, which is very helpful in encouraging collaboration/sharing. Since we’re an agile company with a big focus on building and testing iteratively, it also lets us move quickly to make decisions, put products into the market, learn from customers, and then make adjustments and improvements.

“The only way to know if you’ve created a good experience is to ask your customers.”

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So we can move as efficiently as possible, we have a Subject Matter Expert (SME) for each of our products, and that person is typically one of the the UX architects on the team. If there are ever questions on details or nuances of how something works, everyone knows to reach out to the SME for that particular product. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of how to make quick, informed decisions.

What makes your team structure good?

Josh: It allows everybody to “dig deep” in their specialized role. When people wear too many hats, it’s easy to get spread too thin.

Our structure also sets us up to recruit people who are deeply interested and experienced in a specific area. So we can find people who love the visual design side of the work, or are really solid at research and testing.

What’s the design culture like?

Daniel: Very collaborative and customer-focused.

We spend a lot of time working together internally on UX as well as externally with the product and development teams. Internally we handle this collaboration with constant communication streams in various tools as well as regular formal reviews and design demos.

On the customer focus side, a large portion of the team sits less than 100 yards from our customer care team, so we’ll leverage that when we can. It’s really cool to find out straight from our support team how we can help make customers’ lives easier. We also have a great usability research team that is running multiple tests every week.

“We hire people we trust to make good decisions on their own.”

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What’s the biggest challenge of your team structure?

Daniel: Time. Each designer typically supports several teams, so they’re constantly moving between projects. This doesn’t give us as much time as we’d like to explore and find those opportunities to make the experience exceptional, as opposed to just good.

What do you think is the most powerful part of your design process?

Josh: The feedback loop. We’re always working with our product teams—we spend a lot of time listening to what they’re trying to accomplish. We also spend lots of time listening to customer feedback as well as internal feedback about what we’re currently doing.

What are the most important values you try to see reflected in the design changes?

Josh: We have a concept of “UX Pillars” that the design team can use as a sort of checklist to make sure we’re solving problems in a way that aligns to our bigger UX strategy and solves our customers’ needs. The pillars are:

  • Intuitive
  • Individualized
  • Inspiring action
  • Integrated

How do you hand off items between departments?

Daniel: We use Trello to keep track of internal projects and be able to view all projects across all teams. Outside of our design team, we use JIRA to track requirements and other tasks.

“The key to smooth handoffs is communication.”

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The key to smooth handoffs is communication.Twitter Logo At each handoff point we generally try to speak face-to-face or get on a quick call to walk through what’s been done. Quick touch points make all the difference with handoffs.

How do you identify and prioritize feature requests?

Daniel: Within a given product, all work gets prioritized based on customer need. Across the company, for large projects that have cross-team dependencies, we look at driving value against a corporate roadmap.

How do you make design decisions internally?

Josh: We hire people we trust to make good decisions on their own.Twitter Logo That’s one of the benefits of having a centralized design team—we’re able to maintain consistency without much oversight. We do have processes for reviews and checks with the larger team, but for the most part designers make decisions autonomously.

What types of metrics do you watch closely while making design changes?

Daniel: It all depends on the outcome we’re after. Sometimes we watch typical sales metrics like conversion or revenue, and other times we look at activation and use.

We also have a rigorous program to constantly check Net Promoter. It’s a global initiative, and the UX team keeps a close eye on it because we want to raise it across all touch points.

How do you use InVision during your design process?

Daniel: We use InVision to share our work. Work might be in the form of just flats we flip through, or it can be through more interactive clickable prototypes. We use the commenting system a lot for design feedback.

Before we started using InVision, we knew there were a set of issues our new solution needed to address. Specifically, those problems were:

  • For reviewing processes with stakeholders, we needed a centralized feedback tool that we could manage quickly
  • Instead of having multiple tools for reviewing and commenting, we wanted just one tool to handle everything
  • Since we’re agile, we needed an easy tool for rapid prototyping so our team could iterate and test things quickly

“InVision’s made our workflow effective and efficient.”

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InVision solved all these problems—it’s made our workflow effective and efficient.

Do you have a formal review process?

Daniel: We have daily, team-specific reviews. Each group gets 30-60 minutes to review all the week’s work and give visibility to leadership.

We also host a weekly department-level review where individual designers are expected to regularly share their work. The spirit is less about critique and more focused on awareness.

Stakeholder reviews are typically pretty informal, and they happen in real time. Each member is “embedded” with a product team, so they work together every day.

When does the design team get involved in new features being developed?

Daniel: Most of the time, we’re a key part of new features from the beginning. For a successful project, everybody needs to be on the same page from day one.Twitter Logo

How do you stay engaged and creative while working on the same brand?

Daniel: That’s always a challenge, and we feel it acutely on the visual design side. So we try to seize opportunities to make one-off projects special. Sometimes we make them design challenges, and the product team puts up prizes.

“For a successful project, everybody needs to be on the same page from day one.”

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We also have a practice we call “Disrupt,” where all the designers stop what they’re working on and solution against a large project. It’s a fun way to step out of your day-to-day tasks and challenge your conventions.

Any best practices you can share about designing a product that reimagines a very specific user experience?

Josh: Try to validate everything by talking with actual customers—data doesn’t tell the whole story.Twitter Logo

Our in-house usability research team is invaluable to our process, too. Creating rapid prototypes with InVision that we can put in front of customers early and often lets us fearlessly try new things.

“Creating rapid prototypes with InVision that we can put in front of customers early and often lets us fearlessly try new things.”

How do you creatively monetize your product without corrupting your vision?

Josh: Focus on customer goals, and sales should take care of itself.Twitter Logo We have a lot of great data and research that helped us build out some key personas, and those are the basis of a hyper-personalized experience that’s helpful, not salesy.

“Personas are the basis of a hyper-personalized experience that’s helpful, not salesy.”

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How do you keep up with constantly changing web standards and opinions on what “good” design is?

Josh: Focus less on opinions and trends and more on results.Twitter Logo

Daniel: We have a regular meeting we call “Toast and Jam,” where we get together to discuss great designs we’ve seen over the past 2 weeks. It’s a nice way to get the team together and share inspiring stuff.

“Focus less on opinions and trends and more on results.”

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Do you have any insight for new or growing designers?

Josh: Inspiration is all around us, and being able to recognize the things you can apply practically to your own work is critical. Avoid the sea of similarity—copying a great design doesn’t make you a great designer.Twitter Logo Being able to break it down and understand why it’s great design and then apply those characteristics to your own work takes a lot of intuition and skill.

What role do you think designers should play in developing business strategy?

Josh: Right now, we’re in an age where the experience of using a product becomes the product. It’s not all about the physical shape of devices or the pixels on the screen anymore—it’s about the way a person interacts that’s memorable.

Allowing design or experience to help drive business strategy can only help make products betterTwitter Logo, so it’s very important be be part of those conversations.

What’s the difference between a product and a feature?

Daniel: The lines are pretty clear here at GoDaddy: products are generally viewed as a single unit of sale, and features are the parts of the product that help make it valuable—when it’s done right.

How can you tell when you’ve created a “good” experience?

Josh: The only way to know if you’ve created a good experience is to ask your customers.Twitter Logo We’re constantly doing usability tests because we have our own in-house research team. We have a customer council, a community of people in our customer base, we can tap for feedback and validation. We also listen to our call center team to get feedback on reasons customers are calling in.

What’s success in a design project look like for you?

Daniel: Success happens once the design gets released and customers successfully move through the given experience. But that isn’t as gratifying as the overall success we’re chasing. We know we’re moving in the right direction when we’re empowering people to easily start, confidently grow, and successfully run their own ventures.

Photos by Rick Rusing Photography.

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