Design for Start-Ups
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Design for Start-Ups

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In the physical world, designers like Jonathan Ives are credited with the success of their products. So why do so many digital companies favour technology over design? In this session Andy will ...

In the physical world, designers like Jonathan Ives are credited with the success of their products. So why do so many digital companies favour technology over design? In this session Andy will explain how start-ups can use design for competitive advantage.

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Design for Start-Ups Design for Start-Ups Document Transcript

  • Design asCompetitive Advantage Tweet me @andybuddHi there,My name is Andy and I run a relatively well known design agency in the UK calledClearleft.I also founded Fontdeck.com, one of Europe’s biggest font embedding services fordesigners.And over the past few years I’ve worked with and mentored dozens of start-ups. Andone thing I’ve noticed is that few of them make full advantage of the power of design.So I wanted to share some of my learnings with you.
  • Utility Trumps Design Tweet me @andybuddWhen youre creating something thats never existed before (like this death star) and it solves aparticularly annoying problem (like the rebel scum), people tend not to care how well itsdesigned.They simply want a product to be in existence and make the problem go away.We can see this lack of concern about design in many early products,
  • Early electricHair Dryer Tweet me @andybuddlike this commercial hair dryer.
  • Early electricHair curlers Tweet me @andybuddthese electric hair curlers
  • Early device forthe treatment of hysteria Tweet me @andybuddOr this device for treating victorian ladies for hysteria.It’s clear from all these examples that the aesthetics and user experience of theseproducts weren’t considered when they were created.They were first and foremost engineering problems.
  • Design flaw Tweet me @andybuddHowever in the rush to market, many of these products contained critical designflaws.Like the electric curlers tendency to set people on fire.
  • Early adopters Tweet me @andybuddDespite this you will always find a few early adopters.In fact most of the people working on start-ups fall into this category.
  • Utility vs usability Tweet me @andybuddPeople willing to use a product for the value it brings, irrespective of what it looks likeor how hard it is to use.If you’re not careful, this can give start-ups the sense that their product is perfect andthey’ve hit the jackpot.However over time, less forgiving users will come on board and they’ll start to noticeall the little problems with the product.
  • It’s Ugly Tweet me @andybuddThey’ll notice that it’s ugly
  • It’s Confusing Tweet me @andybudd
  • It’s Difficult to use Tweet me @andybudd
  • Tweet me @andybuddAnd if your not careful, that can spell “game over” for any growing company
  • Your competitorsWill try to out do you Tweet me @andybuddBecause very soon some young entrepreneur will come along and try and out do you.In the early stages this will be on the engineering front.
  • Making it smaller Tweet me @andybuddThey’ll make your product smaller
  • Making it faster Tweet me @andybuddThey’ll make it faster
  • Packed with features Tweet me @andybuddOr they’ll add lots of extra features, like adding a touch screen to the front of a fridge.Incidentally the only reason I can see for the existence of a Smart Fridge is the factthat digital displays and wifi units have got so cheap, the cost of putting them intowhite goods is minimal.So it’s like the 80s when suddenly everything had a digital clock in it.A classic case of design being driven by what’s technically possible rather thandesirable.
  • Technology becomes a commodity Tweet me @andybuddNow competing on technology is great for a while.However over time the engineering advances alone will stop being compelling. And very quickly your “must have” product will become a commodity.This is the point at which most companies start to take design seriously.
  • Design becomes importantover time Tweet me @andybuddThis is partly down to pressure from other competitors.Partly down to consumer demand.And partly down to trends.To me the interesting thing with these slides is that you’re witnessing thedevelopment of three different products take place over around 100 years.With digital products, people expect the same pace of change over 5 years.
  • Design becomes importantover time Tweet me @andybuddThis is partly down to pressure from other competitors.Partly down to consumer demand.And partly down to trends.To me the interesting thing with these slides is that you’re witnessing thedevelopment of three different products take place over around 100 years.With digital products, people expect the same pace of change over 5 years.
  • The importance of aethetics Tweet me @andybuddWhen most people think about design they tend to focus on aesthetics or surfacelevel appearances.And this is indeed an important aspect of design.After all, you can use beauty to drive desire and set you apart from the competition.
  • Good design drives desire Tweet me @andybuddFor instance if you think about heavily commoditised products like headphones,design really is one of the few avenues for competitive advantage left open to you.In this case, Beats by Dr Dre have managed to corner the headphone market bybuilding a powerful brand around design, despite what many audiophiles would claimto be sub standard hardware.It amazes me how so few start-ups have managed to do the same and build up acompelling digital brand.
  • Aetherics only go so far Tweet me @andybuddHowever aesthetics will only take you so faras anybody who has ever tried to make orange juice using this Philip Stark juicer willattest to.Good design is so much more than just what something looks like. It’s also abouthow something behaves when used.
  • New technology is oftenviewed as complicated Tweet me @andybuddYou see, a lot of new products are designed by super users and end up looking likethis.And while this solution may have all the features super users want, most people feelintimidated by this level of complexity.
  • Design can simplify Tweet me @andybuddOne of the benefits that good design can bring is it’s ability to simplify. To ditch thatwhich is confusing or unnecessary and focus on the core of the product.This will help you expand into new areas and attract the less experimental customers.The ones that just want your new product to work, and work seamlessly.So the best designers work to develop a deep understanding of how your customersuse your products.And then design products around their needs.
  • Testing is essential Tweet me @andybuddTo do this, testing is essential.Because no matter how logical things may seem on the drawing board, when you putthings in the hands of real users, unexpected things start happening.This is one of the foundations of user-centred design.
  • Dieter Rams 10 principlesof good designIf you’re still not sure what good design looks likeLegendary Braun designer, Dieter Rams, created a set of core principles which drove his work.These include... ■ Makes a product useful - A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it. ■ Is innovative - The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself. ■ Is aesthetic - The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well- executed objects can be beautiful. ■ Makes a product understandable - It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the users intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory. ■ Is unobtrusive - Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the users self-expression. ■ Is honest - It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
  • Dieter Rams 10 principlesof good design Is  innova)ve Is  honest Makes  a  product  useful Is  long-­‐las)ng Is  aesthe)c Is  thorough  down  to  the  last  detail Makes  a  product  understandable Is  environmentally  friendly Is  unobtrusive Is  as  li<le  design  as  possibleIf you’re still not sure what good design looks likeLegendary Braun designer, Dieter Rams, created a set of core principles which drove his work.These include... ■ Makes a product useful - A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it. ■ Is innovative - The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself. ■ Is aesthetic - The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well- executed objects can be beautiful. ■ Makes a product understandable - It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the users intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory. ■ Is unobtrusive - Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the users self-expression. ■ Is honest - It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
  • Good design is like adetective storyFor me, good design is like a detective storyIt’s a case of pulling together all the different clues in one place, sifting the evidence, spottingpatterns and playing out your hunches.Bad designers are like the detectives that try and get a quick conviction, no matter whether theperson is guilty or not.
  • Good designers workspaceslook like thisWhich is one of the reasons that a good designers workspace typically looks like acrime has been committed.And incidentally, if your designers work spaces don’t look like this, I’d wonder why.
  • Kano Model Tweet me @andybuddDesigners have built up various tools to help them design great products.One of my favourites is the Kano Model[Explain]Minimum viable productMinimum desirable productThe creation of delight is a very important characteristic, and something I’ve spokenabout at length in the past.
  • Designing for delight Tweet me @andybuddHowever adding stuff like this to your product isn’t the type of thing you’d see onyour average user story or Kanban board.In fact, the nice little features are usually the first things to be cut, in favour of extrafeatures or a faster product.So designers play a very important role here as product champions.
  • Mail Chimp excelsat delighting their customers Tweet me @andybuddA company that always manages to delight it’s users is MailChimp.They manage to turn the simple act of sending a marketing email into a joy.Zappos is another, oft used examples of this.
  • Mail Chimp excelsat delighting their customers Tweet me @andybuddA company that always manages to delight it’s users is MailChimp.They manage to turn the simple act of sending a marketing email into a joy.Zappos is another, oft used examples of this.
  • Seth Godin quote “ Market-driven design builds the success of the products marketing into the product itself” Seth GodinOne of my other product design heros is Seth Godin.Seth talks a lot about the power design has when marketing your products and suggests thatmost companies would be better off diverting their marketing budges into product design.So rather than building average products and having to spend a lot of money promotingthem, it’s better to build remarkable products that promote themselves through word ofmouth.
  • Dropbox DesignsThis is exactly what Dropbox did when they diverted the bulk of their marketing spend ($233-$388 per user) into improving the user experience on their product.“we spent almost all our effort on making an elegant simple product that just worked and madeusers happy”What they ended up doing was creating a product that worked seamlessly and their usersloved them because of this.
  • Build a productpeople love Tweet me @andybuddAnd after all, when we talk about design what we’re really talking about is building acompany your users will love.And frankly, unless you’re building developer tools like GitHub (which is awesomebtw) you’re going to want to have designers at the centre of this process.
  • Triple threatBecause when you pull all these different aspects of design together it becomesincredibly powerful and you end up with something like Nest.It’s a beautiful piece of product design making a boring commodity product typicallyselected by your heating engineer, into a sexy design statement.However it’s also incredibly easy to use because it was based on a deepunderstanding of user behaviour. This this is a product that learns about its users andchanges based on their behaviour.
  • “ We’re shifting to an experience economy where an experience is becoming the primary economic offering” Joseph PineA lot of this comes down to another aspect of the modern world that I’ve talked aboutbefore in the past.The fact that we’ve moved from a product or service model to an experience model.Products and services have become a commodity. More and more people these daysare looking to pay for experiences.
  • User Experience Design Tweet me @andybuddThis is one of the reasons weve seen the rise is discipline like user experienceA way of designing products not just based on what they look like, but how they feelwhen used.
  • Create something that isdifficult to replicateSo I see good design as a business strategy.As a way of creating something that’s difficult to replicate.Because design is hard.
  • Competing on designis hard Tweet me @andybuddLots of companies are attempting, but many are failing.Which is why the consumer electronics market is filled with “me to” clones.Until recently companies like Nokia were really struggling to produce good designs,despite having some really good designers and employing a user centred approach toR&D.I’ve spoken to many people at Nokia who were working on “innovative features thatfirst debut in the iPhone” many years ago.
  • You need great designersSo how do you compete on design effectively?The first thing you need to do is hire good designers.However unless you’re a design led company, it’s really hard to judge the quality of a designer.
  • Not all designers arecreated equalSo most start-ups will go onto a site like Dribbble, find a “hot young talented designer” andmake them the lead designer at your start-up.You then tell them what you want and they go away and design what you imagined.
  • Don’t hire stylistsIf you do this, you’ll end up with a stylist rather than a designer.Somebody who is good at mimicking current design trends, but lacks the initiative orexperience to solve the complex problems.They’ll spend their time trying to make you happy by replicating what’s in your head, ratherthan trying to make your clients happyIncidentally this guy is from a crazy TV show called “Hair Battle Challenge”.
  • Real designers don’t wowwith crazy ideasWhere they do crazy things like make hairstyles that look like the Eiffel tower
  • Short runwaySadly a lot of start-ups begin by hiring juniors with idea that they will bring in senior designersin later on.The juniors may be able to pump out designs very fast but the quality will be low, as will thelikelihood that they’re designing the right thing.Good design actually takes quite a bit of time, so you need to start as early as possible beforeyour runway runs out.There’s nothing like realising that your product is failing because it’s badly designed, when it’stoo late to do anything about it.I’ve seen far too many companies come to me after a year and a half of working with mediocredesigners and still not where we could have got them in 6 months for about the same price.However they naively believed they were gaming the system and that their less experienceddesigners could have done the same job as us in 6 montsh for a third of the cost.
  • Hire the best designersyou can affordSo my advice would be to hire the best designers you can afford at the start of the process.You can always transition to less experienced (and expensive) designers once the really hardproblems have been solved.
  • You need design thinkersSo instead of stylists you need design thinkers.People that can challenge assumptions, untangle messy design problems and can get you tothe right solution as quickly as possible.These kind of designers can add a huge amount of value to your start-up.Not least because they can stop you wasting valuable time on design dead-ends.However this level of skill is difficult to find and costly.
  • Get a design co-founderBetter still, find a design co-founder.This is becoming much more common these days.In fact some of the biggest start-up success stories of late were co-founded by designers.And I think the quality shows.
  • The important design decisionshappen at the startOne of the reasons to have a design co-founder is that some of the most important designdecisions you will make happen at the start.This is because an interface design is just the manifestation of your company values andbusiness model. If you get that wrong, no amount of visual tinkering will make the productwork.This is why the better designers want to be involved with projects as early in the pipeline aspossible. If you only call in your designers once all the important decisions have been made,there is little they can effect.
  • Build a cultureof designThe other benefit of having either a design co-founder or a relatively senior designer on boardat the start is that great designers attract other great designers and can build a strong cultureof design in your organisation.Just in the same way that a great CTO can build a culture of innovation and excellenceamongst your engineering team.So if design is important to you, a well known and senior designer could be a huge asset.
  • Design isa team sportThat being said, don’t fall into the trap that design is just one persons job.The design of your product is the responsibility of everybody in the company, from the founder,down to the QA person.
  • There is noB-TeamSo you need to integrate design through the whole of your team.Just make sure that you have at least one good designer directing the activities.
  • Silicon Valley is waking upto the power of designIn my opinion Silicon Valley is starting to wake up to the power of design.We’re seeing funds set up that invest purely in design companies.And in the last 6 months I’ve had 2 different friends have their design agencies acquired byFacebook and Twitter, purely for the design talent.So the search for design talent is hotting up at the moment, and a senior design team canreally add to your valuation.
  • Lean Start-upis good for designI think Lean start-up has largely had a positive effect on design.One of the biggest benefits has been this idea of “customer development” and the need to getout of the office and learn from your users.This is something that designers have been saying to their bosses for years, so I’m glad it’sfinally catching on.
  • Lean UXWhich is why I think programme like LUXr are very interesting as they aim to teach start-upfounders some of the basics of UX design.However this doesn’t mean that you can supplement good designers by sending yourdevelopment team on a week long course.
  • Blindly following analyticsdoesn’t count as designHowever one thing I’d caution against is the current trend that says that analytics and A/Btesting are the way to design your product.I liken this driving a car by looking only at the satnav.It’s an amazingly useful tool and can definitely help guide the design process.However if you don’t have a skilled driver and refuse to look out of the window every once in awhile....
  • Local maximaYou’ll do what this driver in England did and get stuck down a dead end and be unable to getout again.In the design world we call this a local maxima.The use of analytics and testing to optimise the existing product, where there could actually bea much better solution out there if you only look hard enough.
  • 3 THINGS The Start-up World Needs To DoSo in summary I think I have 3 important messages for the start-up community.
  • Realise that Design Adds ValueFirst off you need to realise that design adds value and invest accordingly
  • Build a Culture ofDesign
  • Hire the Be$t Designers You Can AffordAnd I think with those three things in place, you’ll be able to go out and build even betterproducts that make your customers happy and bring you the returns you’re looking for.
  • @andybudd www.clearleft.com andy@clearleft.comIt’s our job to make great products.It’s your job to help ensure that happens.Please help.
  • @andybudd www.clearleft.com andy@clearleft.comI
  • Create something that is