Design Log: January 2017

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

With today being the last day of January (and what a month it’s been, in many ways), I thought I’d shared a couple more articles I’ve been reading 🙂 Cheers!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Recently, I wrapped up Sprint by Jake Knapp and had to say that I definitely understood why it received the attention it did. It’s straight to the point and gets just about anyone excited to dive into a big problem.

There’s a lot of great content, but I wanted to post the parts that I thought were most valuable (not everything fits here – trust me, I dog-eared more pages than I can remember). I’m hoping to use this method when presented with the opportunity!

Getting Started

  • Sprints will help solve these three challenging situations:
    1. High Stakes – A big problem, with a solution that will require a lot of time and money. A sprint is a chance to experiment.
    2. Not Enough Time – A problem where you need a good solution, fast.
    3. Just Plain Stuck – A problem where a starting point is needed.
  • Recruit a team of seven (give or take a few)
    1. Decider – Who can ultimately make the decision for your team?
    2. Finance expert – Who can explain where the money comes from and goes?
    3. Marketing expert – Who knows your company’s messaging best?
    4. Customer expert – Who talks to your customers most?
    5. Tech/logistics expert – Who understands your company’s technical stack?
    6. Design expert – Who designs the products your company makes?

The Sprint

  • Monday
    1. Think of a long-term goal
    2. Make a map of the challenge
    3. Ask experts at your company to get their insight and knowledge
    4. Figure out what the problem is that you’re trying to solve for
  • Tuesday
    1. Review ideas to remix and improve them
    2. Have every team member sketch for the solution, keeping critical thinking at the forefront, with visuals being secondary
    3. Start recruiting people to interview for Friday
  • Wednesday
    1. Decide on which of the sketched solutions you will test
    2. Take the “winning” solution and weave it into a storyboard, a step-by-step plan for the prototype
  • Thursday
    1. Turn the storyboard into a realistic prototype
    2. Pick the right tools. If it’s on a screen, use Keynote, PowerPoint or SquareSpace. If it’s on paper, use Keynote, PowerPoint or Microsoft Word. If it’s a service, write a script and use your spring team as actors. If it’s a physical space, modify an existing space. If it’s an object, modify an existing object, 3D print a prototype or prototype the marketing.
    3. Maintain a “prototype mindset”throughout all of this – perfect to just enough, long-term quality to temporary simulation. Think “Goldilocks quality” – “If the quality is too low, people won’t believe the prototype is a real product. If the quality is too high, you’ll be working all night and you won’t finish.”
  • Friday
    1. Interview the customers that you found starting Tuesday, and learn by watching them react to your prototype.
    2. Interview in five acts: 1) A friendly welcome to start the interview, 2) A series of general, open-ended context questions about the customer, 3) Introduction to the prototype(s), 4) Detailed tasks to get the customer reacting to the prototype, 5) A quick debrief to capture the customer’s overarching thoughts and impressions

Final thoughts

  • Instead of jumping right into solutions, take your time to map out the problem and agree on an initial target. Start slow so you can go fast.
  • Instead of shouting out ideas, work independently to make detailed sketches of possible solutions. Group brainstorming is broken, but there is a better way.
  • Instead of abstract debate and endless meetings, use voting and a Decider to make crisp decisions that reflect your team’s priorities. It’s the wisdom of the crowd without the groupthink.
  • Instead of getting all the details right before testing your solution, create a facade. Adopt the “prototype mindset” so you can learn quickly.
  • Instead of guessing and hoping you’re on the right track – all the while investing piles of money and months of time into your ideas – test your prototype with taret customers and get their honest reactions.

For more info/to buy the book: 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Lots of things going on which has kept me busy! Started doing Daily UI challenges when I can, so I always have something to look forward to when I come home from work.

As I mentioned previously, I’ve been doing a lot more reading. Not only have I been reading books, but I’ve been reading a lot of design-related Medium articles. Even though I’ve been a follower of Medium articles for a while now, but it didn’t really don on me until a couple of months ago how much of a haven Medium is for designers. There’s a lot of great content there, and I wanted to share some stories I’ve read (note: two of these articles are not from Medium):

More to come!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The quote that keeps me going:

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

-Ira Glass

Friday, January 6, 2017

While execution is crucial when learning how to design, I’ve also been learning a ton from design books. I’m planning to read a lot more than I did last year, and these are only some of those books that I’ll read.

Here’s the list I’m going to tackle this year – I’m excited.

Monday, January 2, 2017

During break, I had some time to revisit several articles in Pocket. One of them was the popular “The Art of Designing with Heart” which made its debut in August of last year. With the projects we’re working on right now, I really want to try and incorporate the author’s advice into everything.

Some key takeaways:

  • “When you’re designing something, imagine you’re sitting in a room, helping a real person with the task at hand.”
    • What would you say to them?
    • How would you explain this screen or feature?
    • What advice would you give?
    • Say the answers out loud, then write down what you said. Now you’re 80% of the way there!
  • Check yourself from time to time
    • Are you using natural, casual language?
    • How are you reducing choices needed to make the user’s life a little easier?
    • Is this interaction or feature respectful of a person’s time and attention?
  • Like a respectful person, design should not…
    • Interrupt people in the middle of something
    • Nag them incessantly
    • Hard-sell them into doing what you want
    • Take advantage of people

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