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4 signs of the design mindset (my talk at AgileUX NYC)
This weekend I had the opportunity to speak along side a bunch of fantastic people at the AgileUX NYC conference. The event was awesome, you can see all the presentations on the conference site and I can’t wait for the next one. Thanks to Jeff and Will for putting it together and for everyone who took a Saturday and dedicated it to elevating the conversation about design and the agile product creation process here in New York City.
My slides are embedded below and followed by my speaking notes for context. Each bullet is a slide. Formatting drove me crazy here, apologies in advance.
RPM — Releases per month — the argument is about focusing on process over pixels.
My experience learning to speak design started at Rucker park while I was working in the footwear industry for AND 1.
When all the parts you have to work with (foam, rubber, leather) are commodity, design matters
We followed the typical consumer product cycle of Design — Build — Test — Learn
Our product process at AND 1 was powerful because we focused on shortening the time between the steps and creating tighter and tighter feedback loops.
Changing landscape of company building and product creation on the web is familiar to me as a consumer product guy.
Building blocks of the web are getting bigger and bigger and more easily manipulated by clumsier and clumsier hands. These platforms = cheaper tests and should result in more tests.
Web has returned to basics of customer development
Assumption is design must follow but agile is a classic design process: Vague problem — Understand/better define that problem — Create solutions that might solve the problem — Improve on these solutions with feedback and data — Implement the best solution (maybe) — Repeat
Or design must choose to lead
the classic design process is agile.
Design must lead not just product, but companies
We are sitting at a chocolate/peanutbutter moment — Being design focused is a good way to add value and remove risk in any operation but particularly suited to/useful for the internet in 2012
Designers/UX practitioners are responsible for moving whole companies to a design mindset
Mindset is all that matters when you want to increase RPMs
Design mindset add value/remove risk — systematically
I look for this mindset when investing and designers should demand it from their companies.
But how do you know if you have it?
# 1: No ego — best idea wins
Two types of people I don’t like to see at companies
The person who knows what the consumer wants better than the consumer — the design/product/architecture genius…the all knowing, lone visionary –aka unicorns — very rarely real
Often lots of overlap in these two personalities — neither one listens
Value option value
People with a very strong vision are a risk vs listeners who Pivot.
Perfection gets in the way of participation
“Vision” can conflict with a willingness to make big changes based on what others suggest
It’s tough when you’ve been selling a vision and you have to admit you’re wrong.
Apple Stock Chart — unless the unicorn asshole is Steve Jobs — then forget rule #1 and grab them by the horn and ride them over the rainbow
#2: Feedback must be practiced as a craft
How feedback usually works — Mr. Flamehead and Mrs. TickingTimeBomb
Designers get it second hand and translated
It’s blunt, often not actionable (make it pop, have you seen path? Always site the same existing site as an example for all inspiration)
Unexpected eMail bomb — “we should talk”
It is not iteration — it is linear steps forward and back
Give it directly — and focus on the idea behind the pixels/product. Understand the intent.
Try not to make the event overly formal — the process is continuous
Know what to expect — set expectations in advance for breadth and fidelity
Ask questions to understand intent not to critique the result
Ask the creator to re-state the problem they were trying to solve (as they understood it)
Why did you? Did you consider? How do you think this would work if (possible use case)
Watch real people fail to use your product — every week — in person
Watch the clips as a team
Amazing to see how much more everyone cares and how much less they argue — paint footprints on the wall?
#3 How do you balance qualitative and quantitative data? What moves the crowd/make people dance and your company?
Combine qualitative and quantitative data gathering
i. Why are people doing/not doing — the behaviors and the numbers–Tight loop between quantitative and qualitative — how does it feel? And then using numbers to figure out he scale
Is data a weapon to prove a point? — if so, bad news
i. It should be focused on provoking good questions
ii. It should be focused on identifying opportunities
iii. It should be focused on telling a more interesting story to help define the future of your product
List all the ways you are collecting data — The goal is to motivate more great questions from a broader set of people.
Figure out how they can work better in concert — what is blocking them from doing so today?
What do you measure that’s unique to you as a company?
How might you visualize that to better understand what is going on?
How can you make it actionable across the organization?
#4 Make it a full stack thing — We are talking about a cultural shift — product is a symptom of organizational culture — what do you honor? What do you celebrate? How do you show the love?
Marketing ad communications
Brand and visual design
Commitment to design — make it tangible
Hire people who make good design happen — teams, not unicorns
Demand that everyone is respectful of and collaborates with colleagues and other disciplines — no assholes
Demonstrate that good design matters — other people talk about it — press, customers — so that it becomes part of the public story of the company
Celebrate good design — yours and others — point to success you are having due to great design
Stop looking at your design team + the latest version of path and saying WTF? And crank up the RPMs — if your company leadership will not listen and if the design mindset is not taking hold, e-mail me and we can get you a job at a start-up where design matters or help you start a company of your own. — thanks
And if you read this far, here is all of this on a handy single slide courtesy of Ross Belmont:
[caption id=”attachment_1224" align=”aligncenter” width=”1024" caption=”Crib notes from Ross Belmont”]