As one of two interaction designers who joined in 2010, , now creative director, has written the book on best practices of product development for successful modern-day Internet companies. I highly recommend it.
I sat down with Randy recently to learn more about his perspective on product design. But before I jump into that conversation, here’s a brief look at some of the big ideas from the book:
Takeaways From Product Design for The Web By Randy Hunt
Note: these are not direct quotes but pretty close paraphrases
- Great products are understandable (set expectations and live up to them) and meaningful (help people solve problems or accomplish goals) and, hopefully, delightful
- It can be helpful to reimagine your product spec as a press release defining what the update is, who it is for and why it matters
- Watch and observe people because what they say they do is often very different from their actual behavior
- Design flows, not screens — when users complete a task (like signing up), make sure there are pathways for them to continue down (discover new products, find friends, etc)
- Reward users with success from the earliest possible interaction. Reward what you want repeated.
- Prioritize the effective over the clever. Use naming schemes that are descriptive vs metaphoric
- There are no silver bullets. It is the cumulative effect of lots of little improvements that create successful products.
- Share your ideas early and often – your designs don’t need to be saved for a big reveal
- Don’t forget about the “invisible features” like speed, security, reliability and support
- Designers should prototype using tools (platform, code) that most closely matches up with what goes into production
- A framework such as Problem-Strengths-Weaknesses-Tenets can help the product team discuss and get aligned on projects
- Big teams don’t work. The optimal team size is about 4-7 people.
- Don’t forget to prepare the communication for new features (product marketing, support, etc)
- Be clear about your designs’ desired outcomes and measure the results after launch to see how you did
- Small repetitive cycles of design-test-release-evaluate drives greater team and customer satisfaction and help us learn and improve faster
- The product is always a work in progress — never get too attached to any particular element because it may (and probably will) change
- Change makes people uncomfortable. A designer’s job is to help people experience change as comfortably as possible