Our work spans startups to Fortune 500 companies, technology firms to food apps.
We create user experiences for both mobile and web applications, from simple utilities to complex, database-driven applications. We help clients in two key areas:
Find What Customers Want (aka, Product Validation)
As Steve Blank famously said, "No plan survives first customer contact." We work with clients to shape their ideas into a product vision or feature that wows customers. From customer discovery to validation, we design solutions, prototype them, test with real users, and iterate until the feature passes the all-important customer test: "I could use that." This helps us go beyond product strategy toward a more integrated approach to creating the desired user experience. The outcome is a clear understanding of what business or customer problem we're trying to solve, and the shape of what that could look like. The final polish and flow comes next.
Design What Customers Want to Use (aka, UI Optimization)
Once you know what you're building, we work with you to design the production-ready experience. Our design experts take their cues based on what the product should do, and make it dropdead simple to use. This includes obsessing about the UI of the page, the information architecture, the pattern language, how the experience flows, and what features to integrate and when.
We are guided by a few core principles, gleaned from a lot of trial and error (i.e., doing a lot of projects):
Rule #1. Design for oneself first.
We do this not because it's easy, but because it's hard. It also happens to be the most worthwhile kind of design. We also believe that it's the best way to produce something that "just works." You are your worst critic, and for that reason, we tend to work on projects we either understand, need, or ideas that simply pique our curiosity.
Rule #2. You are what you mobilize.
We believe that mobile's built-in scarcity and form factor help simplify the design process, revealing the product's "soul." It helps clarify why the product exists by sharpening its focus, and delivering the minimum viable product.
Rule #3. Design by subtraction.
Innovation comes when you can do more with less -- the most loved products ask more of themselves than of their users. Once you've identified what your product or service is all about, it's time to peel everything else away. That means paring down that "wish list" into something actionable and worth doing right. By eliminating
superfluous things, we can achieve the clarity to make things better/simpler.
Rule #4. Avoid adding features at the cost of complexity.
Features and updates are important, but the feature of 'simplicity' should remain front and center with every decision. There's a ton of great ideas, just like there are an infinite number of notes on a piano. The trick is knowing what combination of keys and chords to press to produce that beautiful piece of music. The rest is noise.
Rule #5. Small is beautiful.
Big things are essential, but small is beautiful. Whether it's the spacing of a layout, load time, the words on the screen, or the gradient that's just a bit jarring, details matter. They are the all-too-forgotten element of user experience, the collective "Feel" in look and feel. By getting the details just right, simple design becomes invisible, letting your product speak for itself.
Rule #6. Design is a language.
Visual Q is based on the powerful idea that pictures speak a thousand words. In product design, successful products create a visual language that allows us to connect with them (even emotionally sometimes) and they in turn to us. Like a good conversation, the design engages us, guides us, and ultimately becomes as seamless as interacting in the real world, and maybe even easier.
Rule #7. Speed is a feature.
This should be obvious to anyone who's used a website or mobile app, but often overlooked by those creating them. Moore's law holds true for user expectations, too. Fail the speed test and risk losing your users to the next, new thing.
Rule #8. Design for your power users with ADHD.
It's no surprise that most users have short attention spans when it comes to technology -- power users are the worst. Win them over, and you'll eventually win the rest. These early adopters help define your product and answer the key assumptions behind your product strategy. Get their attention, and the admiration of others will follow.
Rule #9. Prototype early and often.
Rule #10. Visualize and communicate the product vision
Einstein was right, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." A well-conceived product starts with a clear picture of what the product should be. The idea is one thing, while visualizing it is another. Few people are gifted enough to envision what something should look like. So, if you're not a Steve Jobs, a Hitchcock, or a Michaelangelo, the guidelines above become even more important.
Ultimately, we hope to design experiences that delight.