Getting Past “Pretty”

Let’s say a company comes to our firm interested in hiring us. We’ll call them SynergyCo. They make about $100 million/year in revenue selling a niche software product. They’ve had their market cornered in the past, but now some startup competitors are making trouble...

The Things We Don’t Want to Know

Customer research is fundamental to the design process. It’s been well established that relying on assumptions alone leads us to make biased decisions that often fail to reflect the reality of the customer’s needs and wants, leading to poor results (including reduced...

Business Software Doesn’t Have to Hurt

I’ve worked on a lot of enterprise software projects over the years, and one of the common patterns I’ve observed is a surprisingly high tolerance for poor user experience. If you’ve ever worked in a cubicle farm, you’re probably all too familiar with the baffling HR...
What I Look For in a Designer

What I Look For in a Designer

I recently spoke to the seniors in Arizona State University’s Visual Communication Design department, and was asked the same question I’m asked almost every time I’m speaking to design students: “What do you look for when hiring designers?” (I should mention that I...

Discovering the Laws of Design

When someone first starts out learning about design, it all seems so simple and straightforward. Just make things look better, right? Use cool fonts, mix up the colors a little bit, and suddenly everything’s magically improved. But the further you get into design, the...