At last! The killer process for product designers

Photo by Aditya Saxena on Unsplash

Designers are always searching for that magic process that will get them the job of their dreams and cause perfect products to spew forth from their fingertips like unicorn sprinkles.

Whether you work in an Agile startup or a Fortune 500 behemoth, here’s the secret killer process in 30 simple steps:

  1. find out why this and why now?

  2. start with user needs

  3. assume that we’re wrong about a bunch of stuff

  4. do things to find out where and how we’re wrong

  5. set up the tightest feedback loop directly with customers/users that we can sustain

  6. get started trying things using conversations, phone calls, emails, and laborious manual processes

  7. be surprised and change things

  8. spend ages building and rebuilding shared understanding

  9. fill up with inspiration and sketch out dozens of other routes

  10. challenge our assumptions

  11. keep iterating as long as we can

  12. get real customers as soon as we can

  13. realise that a bunch of stuff you care loads about doesn’t really matter

  14. work small: cut things down to the bare minimum

  15. then throw it all away and build it again (once to learn, once to earn)

  16. question everything we believed about the universe

  17. zoom out wide and zoom in super detailed

  18. focus on the core learning loop for the user for much longer than feels comfortable

  19. realise that our customers are even more different than we thought

  20. reassess where we are, where we’re trying to go, and what the next tiny step towards that is … again and again

  21. start with the most complex and the riskiest stuff — never the obvious stuff

  22. go back to the user need — how might we meet that more easily? Without tech? How are they meeting it now?

  23. realise none of this list is a linear process — we have to jump around

  24. do user story mapping with the team

  25. find the “aha” moment and get there faster

  26. draw more things on paper

  27. spot the real crux of everything was right there in the first set of interviews hidden in plain sight by our own cognitive dissonance

  28. tell the story of the experience

  29. rewrite the copy

  30. maybe open Figma?

The real “killer process” secret is this: there is no “killer process” secret.

If there is a secret, it’s simply this:

Keep trying stuff and learning until something works