How Clutter's Head of Design Scales Their Creative Process

November 21, 2019
Clutter UX Design

Have you ever come across a playground slide where the gap between the end of the structure and the ground is just a little too large? What about a hotel room where the toilet paper was next to the shower rather than the toilet? Welcome to design nightmares. No location or object is exempt –– including webpages. Consider the first-ever desktop version of Solitaire your dad used to play on the family’s prized iMac G3. 

While poor design or user experience is hard to ignore on any business site, it’s a sign of imminent disaster for e-commerce or app-based companies. Despite its name, Clutter is the antonym of such practices, as demonstrated in its website layout. The business offers convenient, on-demand storage solutions at low prices — all managed through their online platform.

We spoke with Jess Brown, head of design and supply chain, about how UX features aren’t simply “nice-to-haves,” as well as how she helps her team advocate for essential factors in website integration and workflow production.  


What processes, tools, methodologies, etc. were crucial in helping you scale your UX design process?

Tools like Zeplin, Invision Inspect and Figma are incredible. Designers no longer need to exhaustively spec out what’s in designs; engineers can simply examine them for themselves. This leads to a more seamless handoff between designers and engineers and reduces the amount of back and forth required to attain pixel-perfection. The ecosystem for plugins in Sketch and Figma has also supercharged the design workflow. 

Sharing newly discovered plugins across design teams, like placing realistic content into mockups or automatically generating visual alternatives to a button style, enables more efficiency. 

It’s often easiest to convince people of the value of design if they can experience and contribute to the process firsthand.’’


Since most product teams use Agile methodologies to plan and execute project work, it’s vital to understand both where design naturally fits in and also where design needs to zoom out and run parallel processes. Creating enough lead time for user research and design exploration can be challenging. It requires an ongoing effort to educate teams on how design methods can help solve the problems at hand.

Bringing other functions into the design process is also essential as you scale. It’s often easiest to convince people of the value of design if they can experience and contribute to the process firsthand. By running workshops with different teams, sharing early designs cross-functionally or presenting first-person perspectives in user research, design can have a stronger presence in an organization.  

Lastly, “design systems” have become a real buzzword in the past few years, and for good reason. They ensure consistency for users and speed up time to design and build product. These take real effort to craft and maintain, but the effort pays off in the end.

Constraints are the mother of creativity.’’


As you scaled your UX design processes, how did you ensure team members still had the freedom to be creative and try new things?

Constraints are the mother of creativity. Processes like Agile sprints and tools like design systems give shape to challenges — defining the time and guardrails for a project. 

At Clutter, creativity can come from the fact that we’re delivering a physical service and have timing, location and physical processes to contend with. An open-ended question like, “How can we make it easier for a customer to store with us?” can point to a wide set of possible solutions to explore, from examining how we train our mover teams to how we message customers before their first appointment. Maybe we need to reevaluate how plans and pricing are presented on our website. Empowering designers to pull on different threads is one way we can be most creative here. 

Mentoring designers to be able to advocate for their own process is also key. If a designer believes a project will have a better outcome with a wider initial brainstorm and set of sketches, I want to help them make that case with their project team. Not every project calls for lengthy exploration, so learning which ones do (and how to articulate why) is a useful skill for designers to master.


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