Bob Baxley on Apple and Pinterest, company cultures, and the designer shortage

The O’Reilly Design Podcast: Culture, competition, and design staffing.

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In this week’s Design Podcast episode, I sit down with Bob Baxley, who is keynoting at OReilly’s inaugural Design Conference. He compares cultures at Apple and Pinterest, talks about competition in the design playing field, and addresses the designer shortage.

Here are a few highlights from our conversation:

My observation is that although Apple really dominates the product culture of technology, certainly in Silicon Valley potentially globally, it’s really the Google culture that dominates how companies work.

By that I mean, a culture of engineering-centric, ship fast, let’s fix stuff, intense incrementalism based on metrics and experimentation, which is very different from how Apple works, at least in the time I was there, where it was much more deterministic. I think the difference maybe has to do with the business models, where Apple is creating a product that they’re going to sell and somebody has to pay money for.

Pinterest, I think, is trying to sit in between those two right now. The foundational DNA of Pinterest is definitely Google, where Ben Silverman, the founder and CEO, was before he started Pinterest, and then Evan Sharp, who’s the creative co-founder. Evan was at Facebook, and my experience of Pinterest is that it’s really in between a Google and Facebook culture—a lot of emphasis on engineering, but still a lot of input from product management and obviously design; having a design co-founder influences the company a lot.

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Vanessa Cho on GoPro’s design approach

The O’Reilly Design Podcast: Designing for hardware and software, and recruiting and building design teams.

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In this week’s Design Podcast episode, I sit down with Vanessa Cho, head of UX and research for the software and services group at GoPro. Cho, along with her hardware colleague Wesley Yun, will be speaking at O’Reilly’s inaugural Design Conference in January. We talk about designing for hardware and software, building design teams, and what she looks for in new recruits.

Here are a few highlights from our conversation:

I started at GoPro 18 months ago. I was one of the first designers, and in that time, we’ve grown to 18 designers — 18 designers in 18 months. We’ve spent a lot time recruiting and honing down on what is really important to us.

At GoPro, we’re building a hybrid model that allows us to harness specialized skills while delivering speed and scale. What we have is embedded UX generalists for each of the product teams who can champion the customer experience and help define the product and the value of it. Simultaneously, we have a group of shared services, which is filled with specialists, researchers, visual designers, content strategists, and then also me as a manager, that work to help support the UX generalists that are embedded in the team. They’re ensuring that the team not only is working well together but it’s delivering consistent, on-brand quality work. This model … requires a lot of collaboration and communication between the individuals. … It also helps significantly that I have a very tenured, and mature, and collaborative team that always helps, not only on the software side, but also on the hardware side. We have excellent partnership there. Read more…

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Dan Brown on mindsets, managing designers, and mastering impostor syndrome

The O’Reilly Design Podcast: Mindsets, impostors, and self-awareness.

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In this week’s Design Podcast episode, I sit down with Dan Brown, designer at Eightshapes and author of Designing Together and Communicating Design. Brown is speaking at OReilly’s inaugural Design Conference, January 20-22, 2016, in San Francisco.

We talk about managing fixed and growth mindsets, embracing impostor syndrome, and the most important skill for all designers (hint: it’s not empathy).

Here are a few highlights from our conversation:

Carol Dweck wrote a book called Mindset, which talks about the studies that she’d been doing over the years about attitude, and specifically her attitude toward challenge.The studies show that if someone has been called ‘smart’ all their lives, they are actually more reluctant to take on a challenge because they believe that if they fail at the challenge, they will sort of undermine their own self-identity. This is what she calls the ‘fixed mindset,’ the sort of inherent belief that I am who I am, and nothing that I do will change that.

The converse, which she noticed in doing the studies, is a ‘growth mindset.’ These are people who embrace a challenge because they understand that that’s part of the learning process, and maybe they’ll get frustrated, but they won’t shy away from it all together.

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Aaron Irizarry on Nasdaq’s journey to embrace product design

The O'Reilly Radar Podcast: Getting a seat at the table is one thing; understanding what to do with it is way more important.

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In this week’s episode of the Radar Podcast, O’Reilly’s Mary Treseler chats with Aaron Irizarry, director of user experience for Nasdaq product design, about Nasdaq’s journey to become a design-driven organization.

Irizarry also talks about the best ways to have solid conversations about the designs you’re working on, and why getting a seat at the proverbial table isn’t the endgame. He’ll be speaking about these topics and more at the O’Reilly Design Conference, January 19-22, 2016, in San Francisco.

Here are a few snippets from their conversation:

It’s really interesting to see an organization that didn’t have a product design team as of, what, 2011, I believe, see the need for that, bring someone in, hire them to establish a team, which is my boss Chris, and then see just the transition and the growth within the company, and how they embraced product design.

The more we delivered, the more we built equity within the company to be able to kind of have more of a say. … What has really helped us is that we didn’t just focus on getting a seat at the table. We focused on what to do when we have that seat, and how we keep that seat and bring others to the table as well. Read more…

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Adam Connor on culture, codes of conduct, and critiques

The O'Reilly Design Podcast: Organization design, design critiques, and designing for good behavior.

Subscribe to the O’Reilly Design Podcast, our podcast exploring how experience design — and experience designers — are shaping business, the Internet of Things, and other domains.

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In this week’s Design Podcast episode, I chat it up with Adam Connor, designer at MadPow and author of Discussing Design with Aaron Irizarry — Connor also is speaking at O’Reilly’s inaugural Design Conference. We talk about company culture and organizational design, the design of codes of conduct, and advice on running productive design critiques.

Here are a few highlights from our conversation:

I think there’s a misconception around what culture is. A lot of people approach me asking if I can help them with their culture as if it is this separate thing that if adjusted, everything else — their work, their processes, their people — will fall into place. But what culture really is, is the rules, the invisible rules, that we all have in our minds of how we’re supposed to interact with each other or behave in certain situations. Sometimes it’s the values that we have and sometimes it’s more reaction and an instinctual behavior to get at that and to really influence that in such a way that allows people to be creative, to explore ideas, to be collaborative and work toward mutual goals. It actually requires you to adjust things like the processes we have, the policies we have, the roles people play, the skills that they’re using.

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Designing for voice and audio technology

A look at the underlying technology and considerations for VUI design decisions.

Download our new free report “Design for Voice Interfaces,” by Laura Klein. Editor’s note: this is an excerpt from the report.

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Before we can understand how to design for voice, it’s useful to learn a little bit about the underlying technology and how it has evolved. Design is constrained by the limits of the technology, and the technology here has a few fairly significant limits.

First, when we design for voice, we’re often designing for two very different things: voice inputs and audio outputs. It’s helpful to think of voice interfaces as a conversation, and, as the designer, you’re responsible for ensuring that both sides of that conversation work well.

Voice input technology is also divided into two separate technical challenges: recognition and understanding. It’s not surprising that some of the very earliest voice technology was used only for taking dictation, given that it’s far easier to recognize words than it is to understand the meaning.

All of these things — recognition, understanding, and audio output — have progressed significantly over the past 20 years, and they’re still improving. In the 90s, engineers and speech scientists spent thou‐ sands of hours training systems to recognize a few specific words. Read more…

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