Designing for a Database: What’s Beyond the Query?
Data Intensity

Designing for a Database: What’s Beyond the Query?

Even the most technically-minded companies need to think about design. Working on a database product at a startup is no different. But this comes with challenges, such as figuring out how to implement the human-centered design methodology at a technical company, but also contribute to building a design process that everyone agrees with across the organization. This blog will detail how product design is done at SingleStore as well as highlight how to design enterprise products at a startup. How do we define Product Design? Product Design is the end-to-end process of gathering requests and ideating in order to hand-off pixel-perfect products and iterations. There are usually two different ways of dividing work: breaking down multiple design tasks into steps handled by different team members, or each designer taking ownership of a product, or a feature, and designing in a full-stack way. At SingleStore, we develop each product with the latter model, which requires constant and proactive engagement with other folks on the team. Because everything our users experience when interacting with our product should ideally be counted in the scope of ‘Product Design’; we wouldn’t ignore email templates, docs, the help center, the support chat widget and so on. By thinking about the product as a holistic ecosystem, we are able to capture the pain points both inside and beyond the stand-alone application. What is the process? Below are the steps we work through at SingleStore before our customers see any end product or piece of collateral. Kick-off Most of the product features are requested by product management (PM). PM gathers feedback directly from customers or other departments, such as customer success and sales. Designers are also encouraged to take initiative, and lead their own project if it’s valuable to the product as well as the business. To start the project, designers need to write a proposal doc and send it to key stakeholders. The stakeholders will evaluate the idea and decide if it should be put in the roadmap or not. Research Before jumping onto the design phase, we do research to validate the goal, gather technical requirements, explore the market, understand our customer, and analyze what we have done so far. Getting involved with the engineering team First, we need to talk with the engineering team to understand the technical principles, expectations, difficulties, constraints, and context. This helps us set a clear scope of what we can implement, or not, in the project. Study your customers and beyond Customer study covers a wide range of topics. Various tools and methodologies are used, such as interviews, surveys, and focus groups. Notice that customer study is different from usability testing, which will be mentioned in the ‘Testing’ section. While usability testing focuses on the ease of use of the product, the customer study is expected to answer more strategic questions and help us evaluate the direction of the product.
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