Richard Thaler, the Nobel Prize winning economist, talks about a mythical species that is real only to an economist. The Homo Economicus — he calls them Econ for short. An Econ is an extremely rational being and believes in maximizing utility with every decision they make. This is what a prototypical Econ looks and behaves like: I believe when we… Read More →
“This year, we choose to show how design enables us to create a common future beyond all the differences, whether it’s for products, services, or public policy choices.” — Gaël Perdriau, Mayor of Saint-ÉtienneThe Saint-Étienne Design Biennale opens today in central France. Over the next month, the city will host a variety of exhibitions, events, and conferences that address salient topics in the design, art, and research community. As part of this year’s Biennale, the Material Design team collaborated with tech guru John Maeda to present the interactive exhibition Design in Tech. Opening this week at Cité du Design—and running until April 22—attendees can get hands-on with Material Design’s approach to color, typography, icons, and elevation, and explore key insights from Maeda’s 2019 Design in Tech Report. We hope to see you there! And for those that can’t make it, we’ve got an interview with Maeda and Material Design’s Rachel Been on the symbiotic (and evolving) relationship between design and development.Read “A New Religion for Designers”
Design sprints can help prevent you from building the wrong thing even when your customers say it’s the right thing. Larissa Levine, from the Advisory Board Company, believes that a design sprint is successful if it guides you toward building the right product feature. As she explains, “Product marketing wants to sell this one feature and says, ‘let’s build XYZ because we heard that the user said they wanted XYZ,’ when actually, that’s not the problem at all. They think they want XYZ, but it’s not it at all. So you end up building the wrong thing.”
Design for a light-touch, full-product experience. Ask yourself: What’s the smallest set of features you can design that will still solve users’ problems? Start with the simplest version of your product, get user feedback, and then add features. As your sprint loops continue, you can move from simple prototypes to robust product directions. With Swell, we focused on creating a hero page for each key interaction (landing page, sign up, and invest). This meant we were testing the functionality of the full product experience, just in a light-touch way.
In the Ideation stage, design thinkers spark off ideas — in the form of questions and solutions — through creative and curious activities such as Brainstorms and Worst Possible Idea. In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of the best Ideation methods and guidelines that help facilitate successful Ideation sessions and encourage active part...
After a career in user experience design and research at companies like Microsoft and Nuance, Trace then became a developer at Pivotal Labs, and is now a Managing Director at thoughtbot. He has facilitated numerous product design sprints, and is an author and maintainer of thoughtbot's design sprint methodology repository. He's brought Lean and Agile methodology to many large companies and small startups, helping teams to focus, prioritize, and become happy and productive.
At the heart of Design Thinking is the intention to improve products by analyzing and understanding how users interact with products and investigating the conditions in which they operate. At the heart of Design Thinking lies also the interest and ability to ask significant questions and challenging assumptions. One element of outside the box thinking is to falsify previous assumptions – i.e., to make it possible to prove whether they are valid or not. Once we have questioned and investigated the conditions of a problem, the solution-generation process will help us produce ideas that reflect the genuine constraints and facets of that particular problem. Design Thinking offers us a means of digging that bit deeper; it helps us to do the right kind of research and to prototype and test our products and services so as to uncover new ways of improving the product, service or design.

This is Chapter 1 from “Design Sprint: A Practical Guidebook for Building Great Digital Products,” by Richard Banfield, C Todd Lombardo, and Trace Wax. Design Sprint was just recently named one of the 100 Best Product Design Books of All Time by The Book Authority (#8 for those who are counting!). NOTE: I have included links to additional, related Design Sprint resources within the post that are not part of the book chapter. These resources are denoted by a “- — -” divider.
While we assume you’re familiar with the original Design Sprint, here’s a quick recap: the Design Sprint is a five-day process to solve big problems and test ideas. A dedicated team discusses a challenge, designs potential solutions, and tests them with real users. You start with something vague, and finish with real feedback and something extremely tangible in just five days.