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The Top 10 Design Posts of 2017


As with our Top Product Posts, we took a look back at all of our content related to design to see which were the most consumed topics, posts, and podcasts. Whether product design, web design, design thinking, or some of the tools associated with each, there was certainly a lot to talk about in 2017! Design thinking as a process used by a broader range of people than just designers to tackle complex problems remains a hot topic. Similar to product leadership, the importance of the design TEAM was a popular topic this past year – the move to building, organizing, and running smaller, independent, cross-functional teams that scale better, move faster, and can get closer to the customer. Following is a list of our top 10 design posts of 2017.

How to Make Design Thinking Deliver on its Promise of Delivering Better Product

Design Thinking

Design Thinking has created a revolution in the way we think about the design of products, but if it doesn’t bring us more practical outcomes it’ll become a footnote in history as another theory with no impact on the real-world. This post attempts to answer two questions:

  1. Can design thinking processes be useful to product makers?
  2. What’s missing from current design thinking practices?

Five Lessons from Biology That Predict Successful UX & Products of the Future

man jumping

Is there anything we know about the future of products? “I get asked this question a lot” says Richard Banfield. But the question makes no sense. There are too many variables and too many product categories. The right question is, what do we know about the humans today and how will that help us design relevant products tomorrow? Our fundamental biology, ancient social dynamics and evolutionary paths provide a crystal ball for how we adopt and use technology both today and tomorrow.

Product Creation is a Team Sport: Part I

astronauts shaking hands

True leadership recognizes that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Being dictatorial and enforcing your own product ideas is never going to be as productive or successful as bringing the whole team, from design and engineering to sales and marketing, together. The product leader is ultimately graded by the overall team performance, not how their individual behavior or choices contributes to the work. This post discusses how to craft a successful product team and the move to smaller, independent, cross-functional teams that scale better, move faster, and can get closer to the customer.

When to Prototype a Digital Product

two young kids with homemade AI goggles

When we refer to prototyping, we generally mean quick, low-to-medium fidelity designs organized in a system like InVision. In other cases, prototypes can be front-end code in the form of HTML, CSS, and Javascript, or they can even go a bit further, leveraging a Javascript framework such as React. Despite the differences in producing these prototypes, the spirit remains the same: attempt to design a simple and focused feature set that you can use to demonstrate and test against. The trend toward product prototyping is fast becoming best practice for teams exploring and vetting new concepts. We’ve found that there are a handful of common use cases where prototyping is useful.

Successful Design Projects Can All Be Tracked To This Simple Truth

two hikers helping each other

Web and digital product design needs to deliver great design. That much is obvious. What’s not obvious is how the most successful design companies actually do this. Having a bench of great designers is generally what most people think of when they think of a great design company. That part is true, but what sets these companies apart is their project and product management skills. In this post we describe more about what this means in and why it’s important.

Netflix Abstracts the Team Out of Product Design


team of astronauts

Netflix’s new show, “Abstract”, is a beautifully produced documentary that follows the achievements of world renowned designers across a wide range of design disciplines. Many of the designer’s stories are inspiring and touching, and they make you want to get up and design something bold and exciting. But the show is disappointing in one important way – it reinforces the stereotype of the individual genius. The reality is that every one of these designers works as a member of a team. Nothing innovative gets done without a team. Nothing.


child with a rocket backpack

We’re often asked about our process of prototyping and testing designs for web applications and digital products. In this brief video, we outline a very basic overview of the process we use to design screens and create clickable prototypes using InVision. We also cover how the Craft plugin saves time and makes prototyping easier by automating and randomizing some of the more monotonous tasks in the process.

“Design Thinking is BS”, is BS

Natasha Jen, 99U conference

Natasha Jen thinks that Design Thinking is bullshit. At her 99U conference talk she makes a case for why traditional Design Thinking isn’t as useful as we’ve been lead to believe. Unfortunately, Jen’s case is pretty thin. Her talk title is clickbait and her arguments are backed up by nothing but anecdotal evidence and some audience entertaining jokes. But, in spite of the superficial nature of her talk, it’s a worthwhile question to ask: Is Design Thinking bullshit? And is the process it suggests any better than the way designers have been working for almost a century?

Sex, Drugs, and The Infinite Scroll

man in the bathroom

Designing products for optimal engagement is challenging. This talk, delivered by Fresh Tilled Soil CEO Richard Banfield, looks at how human biology can provide us with clues as to how people relate to products and experiences. Brain chemistry, emotional decisions, evolutionary cycles and social connections all play a part in how we connect to experiences.emotional decisions, evolutionary cycles and social connections all play a part in how we connect to experiences.

Product Creation is a Team Sport: Part II

woman and kid with walkie talkie

Smart leaders at successful product companies agree that people are their greatest asset. In the world of software creation there is hardly a single thing that can be compared to the potential of great talent as a predictor of success. Unlike traditional engineering industries there are very few hard assets like machinery and inventory to evaluate. In the second of a two-part post, Richard Banfield covers topics like aligning product vision to individual’s work, connecting product frameworks to people growth, and developing the hard and the soft skills.


Author Heath Umbach

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