To digitize the manufacturing process at large, job shop owners must have confidence in working with an interface for a product that will transform their former quoting systems. In turn, designing an intuitive user interface is essential for the adoption of the revolutionary software we create here at Paperless Parts.

So what does this process look like in practice, and why should you as a go-getting designer want to be part of it?

Enter Nick Chu, Director of Design. Nick’s role involves working with both our product and engineering teams; first working with the product team to identify user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) challenges, design solutions, then working with product and engineering to build it out.

Regarding communication and balance across the team, Nick noted how “there’s an ingrained sense of camaraderie and mission. We’re all very collaborative, and we’re all working towards the same goal — you can really feel that.”

“This is a true start-up – we’ve created a culture of high iteration and experimentation. All ideas are valued and valuable. If you want to try something, you need to go and prove that it works.”

Of course, creating an intentional UI relies not only on internal collaboration but also greatly on what Nick refers to as a “constant conversation” with customers to understand and address their concerns, as well as invite their thoughts on features the team is thinking of implementing. The relationship that product design has with other departments of the company and with customers is evidence of the creative control and voice that Paperless Parts values in product design.

“This is a true start-up – we’ve created a culture of high iteration and experimentation. All ideas are valued and valuable. If you want to try something, you need to go and prove that it works,” Nick explained. “If it didn’t work, why not? Is there something we can learn from that? This approach enables us to tackle problems from multiple angles, and in the end, find the solution that benefits the user the most. We are all very results-driven.”

The emphasis on creative voice is what drew Nick to Paperless Parts, but other aspects of the company’s culture and central mission also ensured it was the right fit for him – namely, the opportunity to impact an enormously important industry, and to do so alongside a driven team with a vision for how to revolutionize the future of manufacturing: “it is such a great feeling to come to work every day and know that you are helping build a great company, in a critical industry, with a team of really smart, talented, and driven people.”

Design Thinking Exercise at Paperless Parts
Using design thinking workshops to solve user problems.

For Nick, empathy is a crucial trait of successful designers – that means really understanding your user’s needs in order to take the right course of action. Designing with empathy requires you to set aside your assumptions and suspend your own views and biases to understand the user’s needs and goals. At Paperless Parts, that means placing yourself in the shoes of someone in a job shop to better understand problems from their perspective.

Curiosity, a pillar of the company’s values, is another trait that Nick believes is essential for designers. As someone who was new to manufacturing, Nick’s thirst for knowledge manifested in an eagerness to learn all aspects of the industry, which improves his ability to design user-centric solutions. Nick explains, “you need to approach every challenge with an open mind. Without a desire to be constantly learning, you shut yourself off from new discoveries and insights. Being a successful designer means you are constantly learning and growing.”

Ultimately, working in product design at Paperless Parts means that you are making a lasting difference in a crucial industry. “We are a company that values product design, and values modern software, and wants to bring it to the manufacturing industry – that’s pretty exciting,” Nick said. “Design has the ability to directly improve the lives of the users — the people on the front line — with solutions that save them time and make them more effective at their job.”

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