When I joined Postlight in April 2021, the design team had doubled in size from the previous year, and we’re still growing! Doubling in team size, including bringing on multiple managers, introduced complexity to managing our skills and career assessments equitably. We needed to evolve and scale our design leveling guidelines into a framework that lays out explicit progression between growth levels and elucidates clear career pathways.
We developed our new growth framework to reflect, but not dictate, the evolution of requisite skills for designers to succeed and thrive at Postlight. To varying degrees, our designers are involved in the end-to-end journey of each project. Not only do our designers possess strong hard skills, like information architecture, user research, and UI design, they also have aptitude in product thinking and walk teams and clients through design decisions with sound rationale and storytelling skills.
We looked at many other frameworks, like Buzzfeed’s and many others on progression.fyi, and read the many writings by industry leaders like Peter Merholz. Some of the checks along the way included asking ourselves questions like, Could a traditional marketing designer jump in and start designing enterprise software? Why — or why not?
Our seven core competencies
- Product Vision: Ability to synthesize strategy inputs and conceptualize a solution
- Visual Acuity: Ability to deliver a high-quality user interface with attention to detail
- User Focus: Ability to execute on user experience research and analysis
- Communication: Ability to effectively deliver design solutions to various audiences
- Collaboration: Ability to work closely with internal and external teams to execute the work
- Digital Fluency: Ability to understand and collaborate with engineers for digital devices
- Growth Mindset: Ability to understand and own your development
For each competency, we created a heat map to show how those skills develop as Postlight product designers become more experienced.
Each competency is rounded out by two subcategories. For example, User Focus is broken into UX, which encompasses user research to build the right user experiences. And Flow and Clarity specifies flows that account for constraints and optimize for inclusive design.
Our framework is a snapshot of where the design team is heading, and with input from designers and our colleagues, we fully expect to update it as we grow! Its purpose is not to make cookie-cutter designers, but to empower individuals by building upon their own unique strengths. It acts as a foundation for the many personal and professional growth conversations each designer will have with their managers at Postlight and beyond.
Creating this framework also helps us disrupt biases, such as implicit or recency bias, in our conversations around staffing, promotions, and hiring. And we use the framework as a lens through which we view design candidates, so that those who join us (come join us!) will feel right at home.