Building up a Design Team Structure That Works

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Illustration by Dongyeon Lee

Amanda and I (Dongyeon) lead the Design Team here at 2359 Media, taking on the roles of Head of Design and Head of Experience Strategy respectively. As Design Leads, we strive to build up a team of talented designers that are self-motivated, inquisitive and creative by nature to help us deliver innovative and high-quality designs for our clients.

At the beginning of our 2359 Media journey, we had to adapt to the ever-changing work landscape resulting from the uncertainties that arise due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As such, we had to chart our own paths by constantly experimenting on how best we could structure our design team. Through our successes and failures, we managed to pick up a couple of learning pointers and I will be sharing more about my experiences in this article.


Attracting the right talents was crucial to our success in building up a strong design team. When Amanda and I were first roped in during the selection process, an immediate challenge was that we had unclear expectations of the positions we were hiring for. As a result, we invested time to brainstorm and rethink our core mission as design leads and what we wanted to create as a team.

This process brought us back to our original mission: To be on the forefront of innovative experience design that impacts lives. With that clarity in mind, our focus was redirected to looking out for hybrid, growth-minded designers that were excited about design. We used the following 3 factors in our assessment: Passion, Autonomy, and Hybrid Skill Sets.

Passion (Welcome, Design Otaku!)

We uphold the belief that one’s passion for design could very well be the strongest driving force of motivation to constantly seek for growth opportunities. This translates to us uncovering each candidate’s design journey and career aspirations during the interview.


During interviews, I am often asked what I like most about the design team. Without a doubt, my response would always be “Trust”. This response is aligned with 2359 Media’s high-trust culture and how the team values autonomy. Within the Design team, every idea is fully embraced and heard as it can spark innovation in the team.

Hybrid Skill Sets

UI and UX go hand-in-hand. To have the opportunity to be part of quality projects, it is essential for UI/UX Designers to expand both their UI and UX horizon. With that said, it is understandable that UI/UX Designers may prefer one type of design over the other and this would be dependent on their personal strengths and interests. Regardless, we encourage and urge our designers to hone their craft for both UI and UX design. As the design scope differs among projects, designers with both skill sets will be able to better adapt and effectively leverage on the required design skills.

Internal Design Challenges

We have created and developed internal design challenges for our design team to attempt. Through these design challenges, we hope that they are given the opportunity to take ownership, hone their UI/UX skills, and experience the full design process from the research stage to the prototype stage.

To keep the creative juices of our designers flowing, we create various types of design challenges. Here is a sample of the design challenges that we have created thus far.

Marjory, our UI/UX Designer also shared her design challenge on the possibilities of what Squid Game could look like in the version of an App.

Daily Design Feedback

We have the practice of conducting informal design reviews with our designers on a daily basis. During these review sessions, designers will present their designs with the necessary justifications and reasonings. As a team, we brainstorm and ideate solutions for the design challenges. Tools that we use during these sessions are Figma voice & chat and sticky notes for the purpose of collaboration and trying out improvements. There is no right or wrong in design, but the design team believes that feedback can help better our products and us as designers.

Marjory: Getting feedback does help me to work on what I needed to improve on — such as pointers and factors that I did not consider when working on a project. That helped and reminded me to dive deeper and think more in depth and consider the many other factors each time when I am working on a project. It helps me in my thinking process as well.

Weekly 1:1 Sessions

Among the 2359 design team, we organise 1:1s on a weekly basis with all our designers to foster an environment of trust. Keeping an open mindset, we talk about their work satisfaction, challenges we faced, learning points and general life updates. Amanda & I will also share additional resources to support our designers’ growth Here are some of the questions we use to kickstart these weekly sessions:

How has this week been for you? What have you learnt/done for the week?

What have you enjoyed/have not enjoyed?

How is your workload? Is it manageable or is there anything we should de-prioritise?

Is there anything you are looking forward to or would like to try in the coming weeks?

As their supervisors, these weekly sessions are also a great chance for us to receive feedback on our supervisory skills. We strive to uncover how best we are able to support our designers, this can be in the form of understanding what additional resources they may need or their preferred method when it comes to receiving feedback. With that improved understanding, we are able to tailor and improve the current working structure and leadership style. We also ensure that there is proper documentation of all the addressed pointers and action items or the ease of follow-up.

Si Qi: The one on ones showed me that I didn’t slip through the cracks, but instead that the leaders of the company are looking out for me. If I had any opinions or frustrations at work, these sessions were a safe place for me to honestly process them with my supervisor, someone who had more experience than me and cared for me too. During our conversations, it has also helped me understand how intentional the design leads are in delegating work for the growth of their members. This enabled me to be targeted in nurturing the fruits of my work experiences, rather than being overly caught up in the day to day tasks. As a designer that is just starting out and still unsure of myself, I greatly appreciated having an older sister and a mentor to walk alongside me throughout my entire journey here in this company.

Bi-weekly Sharing Sessions

One of the main challenges we identified back then was the lack of communication among the design team. Since all our designers are involved in different projects, there were minimal opportunities for the team to gather and share their knowledge and experiences. On top of that, it was also important for us to regularly develop fresh perspectives and to keep abreast of industry trends and best practises.

Recap of sharing sessions of design related topics including accessibility, NFT, Ethics in design, North Korean design, widget design, articulating design, forms, Human-centred design, rectangular frame, and design career

This discovery led us to organise bi-weekly sharing sessions within the design team. We intended for these sharing sessions to be as lightweight as possible, preventing the team from feeling pressured or overwhelmed. For these sessions, any design-related topics were welcome. Here are some examples of what we covered during the sharing sessions.

Career Progression for Designers


The Career Progression Pathway Model was initiated to help our designers see where they stand and to help identify what capabilities and skills they need to develop to get to the next stage. Our career progression for designers describes how a designer can grow within 2359 by defining different levels and skill sets for each level.

Career progression ladder for designers from junior to design lead

Utilising this model, we ask designers to think about “What kind of designer do you aspire to be?” and “Currently, which stage of this pathway model do you see yourself at?” Based on their responses, we collectively identify the knowledge gaps. This framework will only be effective if there is clear documentation and active follow-ups. In the next section, we will share more about how we engage in goal-setting with the design team.

3/6/9 months Goal Setting & Follow ups

On top of the Career Progression Framework, we task our designers to come up with 3/6/9 months of goal-setting that is paired with measurable action plans. We believe that every designer is unique and that applies to their career journeys as designers. Therefore, we often promote That’s self-initiated learning and place additional emphasis on the personalisation factor for their goal-setting practice.

3/6/9 months goals and measurable actions for personal development

We believe that these goal-setting activities will help direct our energy, focus and motivation in the right direction. Designers can use this time to think about what they want to experience as designers, what they expect from working at 2359 design team and how to make the opportunities to help them grow as professionals. The regular follow-up by 3 months is just as important as the goal setting itself. It can stay updated with progress or challenges to make us think how we can encourage and keep aligned with designers’ goals.

Wrapping up

As we are on a constant journey of building up and improving the design team structure, we hope to stay true to the trusting and open culture that we have fostered.

At 2359, we believe in the value of entrepreneurial spirit, initiative, teamwork and creativity. This means everyone at 2359 is empowered to make a difference to improve the way people live and work through technology.

If you enjoyed this article, check out The Horrors of Bad Everyday UX

Looking for bespoke digital solutions for your business, or have a great innovative product that you need help building? Connect with us at 2359!



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