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PHILOSOPHY

What makes good design?

My appreciation for good design has been heavily shaped by the 10 commandments of good design by Dieter Rams. However, my own experience as a designer has accentuated some principles more powerfully than others.

  • Contextual: Since most solutions and products are for humans, a good design must be human-centered, without question. What makes a good design solution in one context can be completely different in another because the constraints and problems are distinct.

  • Value-Driven or Goal-oriented: Many things that are designed and built can catch our eye, but it won’t be something we pursue or purchase unless there’s a tangible value to a product or service. That value is often subjective depending on the person, however humans ultimately have goals, even subconsciously, and good design builds towards fulfilling these goals in order to establish value with the user.

  • Systematic: Though good design can be perfect to an individual, when something is designed well it anticipates how effective a solution is at scale, over the long-term, and its relationship to other elements it interacts with. Good design doesn’t exist in a vacuum, like our world or in a nation, there needs to be a functional structure with purpose, goals, and harmony as a systematic solution.

  • Validated: This may be a no duh, but people often think good design was a single genius light bulb moment. Design can only be considered “good” if there has been validation from a user affirming that a solution is what they need. Until then, we are all hoping for the best.

  • Iterative and Adaptive: Sometimes a design solution can hold its value and form over phases, seasons, or decades, however since humans often change, solutions must as well. Evolving products don’t mean that the original designs weren’t good, if anything, good design solutions allow for a flexibility and adaptiveness through each new design iteration.

  • Ethical: Solutions often are chosen for its ability to satisfy both user and business goals, although there have been many cases where consequences of certain design solutions were not fully weighed and the user receives the short end of the stick. Dark UX patterns that intentionally force users to perform difficult interactions or cause unhealthy habits must be challenged even if it helps the business retain customers or revenue.

 

DESIGN PROCESS

WHAT METHODS ENABLE GOOD DESIGN?

I stand on the shoulders of those that I've learned from. Whether they're engineers I've worked alongside, other designers and thought leaders I follow, or my parents in how they've raised me, I learn by analyzing how others approach a problem and their thoughtful questions that lead them to great solutions.

My process has been developed within the context of lean startup principles, incorporating both Lean UX and Agile methodologies and is broken down in the 5 phases below.

1. Understand

USER RESEARCH

  • Interviews

  • Surveys

  • Empathy Maps

  • Assumptions Testing

CONTEXT/INDUSTRY RESEARCH

  • Competitive Analysis

  • Trends

2. DEFINE

GOALS & CONSTRAINTS

  • Product Roadmap

USER PERSONAS

VALUE PROPOSITION

  • Value Proposition Canvas

  • Card Sorting

3. IDEATE

SOLUTIONS

  • How might we…

  • Tradeoff Analysis

  • Sketches

  • User Journeys

COMMUNICATION

  • Information Architecture

  • Content Strategy

4. Build & PROTOTYPE

DESIGN

  • Design Principles

  • Branding & Styleguide

  • Wireframes/Mockups [Sketch/Figma/XD]

PROTOTYPING

  • Paper

  • User Flows [Invision]

  • Interaction/Animation [Framer/After Effects/Lottie]

5. TEST & LEARN

SOLUTION VALIDATION

USER TESTING

  • Usability Tests

  • A/B Tests

LEARNINGS & ITERATION PLANNING