StaceyBaradit

Leading IoT Design With Stacey Baradit

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Stacey Baradit, Very’s director of product design, has a vision to create products people want to use. Learn about her global background in user experience (UX) design, how she asks the right questions to design products with market fit, and what excites her most in leading the design team at Very.

Cutting Edge Design Leadership for IoT

When you first meet Stacey Baradit it’s easy to see she’s a problem-solver by nature. She walks through stories of resolving challenges and navigating relationships in a way that inspires you to rethink your approach.

A former user experience designer and product manager at Apple, Stacey brings a wealth of practical knowledge and experience to her new role. She’s lived across the world, speaks English, Spanish, and Chinese fluently, and has a track record of successfully leading multinational teams.

As the director of product design at Very, Stacey manages a team of product designers, cultivates relationships with clients, and creates a vision to make end-to-end products that clients — and their customers — will be delighted to use.

The Power of Generous Listening

Stacey is a lifelong learner and has a list of insightful snippets to share for a life well-lived. A favorite quote of hers is from Krista Tippet’s book Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living

Generous listening is powered by curiosity, a virtue we can invite and nurture in ourselves to render it instinctive. It involves a kind of vulnerability — a willingness to be surprised, to let go of assumptions and take in ambiguity … If I’ve learned nothing else, I’ve learned this: a question is a powerful thing, a mighty use of words.

Applying Krista’s words within her own life, Stacey says:

The only way to understand a client — their problem space, the users, and business problems — is by listening. Sometimes the first thing the client asks for isn’t very clear. Sometimes users aren’t able to adequately express why they like or don’t like something, or even articulate what they need. To be able to do good product design, you have to understand the business, product/market fit, and user needs, and one of the most powerful ways to do so is through generous listening. 

I have to be open to being surprised by people, by their answers, and by the evidence. In user testing or workshops, I create scenarios that demand immense vulnerability by all stakeholders involved: What if users don’t like the product? What if people aren’t willing to pay? As painful as those learnings are, we have to listen generously to our users because, in the midst of the feedback, there are critical insights on what feature changes will make the product loved by customers.

Creating Joy for End Users

When directing her team and working with clients, Stacey keeps the end user in mind. She puts herself in their shoes by asking questions like: How can we quickly validate assumptions about this user? How can we give them back more of their day? What will the user find valuable?

We can do more than just complete features. How do we bring joy and life to users’ experiences? The systems we have can create these walls and boxes we have to fit in, stripping ourselves of the flexibility and creativity that we bring to the table. I think we can bring a lot of good into the world.

Healthy Communication Within the Team

To launch an IoT product that hits core metrics and is designed for delight, healthy communication is critical. Stacey echoes the mantra, “Make sure whoever’s speaking feels heard.” Because IoT projects involve many groups and individuals, everyone has to be on the same page.

Designing an IoT product is different than designing just a user interface (UI). A UI is only part of the UX in IoT. We have to take into account the entire ‘user experience’ with the whole product. If the sensors are slow, if the data displayed is irrelevant, or if the hardware and industrial design are ill-suited to the user’s needs, the product as a whole fails. For that reason, product design in this space requires being embedded with hardware, software, and data science experts to ensure the experience as a whole is excellent. 

Communication is a priority to have productive discussions with internal team members or a client. When clear heads prevail, quality data is used, and respect is offered to everyone in the room, real progress can be made.

For me, working toward a good product that has market fit and targets a clear problem is like tuning a fuzzy radio. A lot of clients and a lot of projects show up and you can’t quite hear their song. My job is to tune it until the client is like, ‘that’s it!’ and it’s crystal clear.

It’s a fitting analogy — Stacey focuses on initiating those critical (and, at times, uncomfortable) conversations with clients. “Product strategy, from the beginning, requires you to start asking the hard questions that can start validating … what the value is to the user.” Stacey further iterates that critical discussion should avoid anecdotal evidence where possible. Instead, pause the dialogue, do the research, get quality sample data, and move forward from there.

Making an Impact

Stacey first learned about Very when she met founder Ben Wald and Director of Engineering Jeff McGehee at an engineering conference. They made a great connection, and when Jeff later reached out about a potential opening, Stacey was ready for a new challenge. Sometimes hitting a ceiling in one place simply means you should find a taller building. Her ambitions and positive outlook certainly fit at Very.

At Very, I'm excited about growing the design team's holistic approach to product design as technology becomes more complex and integrated in our world. It’s not just an app — it’s part of a much bigger ecosystem of experiences.

After a day at the virtual Very office, you’ll find Stacey exploring the outdoors, working in her garden, hiking, or skiing — anything to take a break from tech. One of her favorite elements of working at Very is the emphasis on work-life balance.

Whatever Stacey’s doing to maintain a harmonious life, it’s working: her level-headed approach to directing product design is creating a cohesive vision within her team and guiding clients to tune their ideas to be their very best.

If your IoT vision isn’t crystal clear yet, Stacey and her design team will bring it into focus. Contact Very today to discuss your goals and find your perfect tune.