Welcome to the Tech for Non-Techies podcast

Feature creep – why apps get too complicated

When an app has too many features and pop ups, most users get confused and frustrated. This is feature creep: when the product’s core functionality becomes hidden in too many options and things to do.

Feature creep happens when a team is determined to stay productive, but loses sight of its strategy. Sometimes stopping is better for the product than doing more.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Feature creep is problematic for two main reasons: it confuses users and it costs money. This is because product teams have to be paid to design and code, and you also have to pay cloud costs to store your pointless features.
  • Feature creep happens when there is a pressure to produce, which is contrary to the ability to focus. It can be easier to present new features as productivity to investors and corporate bosses, rather than saying that the product team took time to review results and reflect.
  • To prevent feature creep, go back to the fundamental product development questions...
Continue Reading...

Top mistakes non-technical founders make in UX design

Design is often at the core for why products go viral or flop. But, how can you tell good design from bad right at the start? How do you hire the right people and avoid costly mistakes?

That’s what you’ll learn on this episode.

Learning notes:

  • User experience designers, not developers, should be your first hire in the vast majority of cases.
  • Learning how to use design software does not make you into a designer. Learning to use a kitchen knife does not turn you into a chef. This is the same logic.
  • Great designers mix human psychology and the design process to make products that people want to use. The best designers are well versed in behavioural economics and human insight, not just tech tools.
  • Great designers are partners, who question your assumptions and sometimes tell you that you are wrong. Someone who only agrees with you isn’t going to help make your product great.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

  • Introduction to Design for Technology: Listen on Apple...
Continue Reading...

What UX designers do and how to work with them

”Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it's this veneer — that the designers are told, 'Make it look good! ' That's not what design is. It's not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works,” - Steve Jobs 

In this episode, you''ll hear from Sarah Doody, a UX designer who has worked for the likes of Vice Media and Dow Jones. Today Sarah runs Career Strategy Lab, a school for UX designers. 

Learning notes from this episode:

  • "User experience design is how you interact with a product, whether it's digital, physical or a mix of both," Sarah Doody.
  • When hiring a UX designer, think about the outcome that you want, rather than the process. E.g. Do you want a prototype to test an idea? Then you don't need the same level of attention to graphics as you would for a design you would give to developers. 
  • If you want to transition into a career in UX design, your experience in another...
Continue Reading...

How tech companies bring new ideas to life

If you have an idea for a new product in a traditional business, you will probably have to work on an extensive plan before you do anything else.

This is not how it works in tech companies. When the likes of Airbnb and Slack bring new apps or features to market, they use the Sprint Method. It is a methodology developed by Google Ventures to bring new ideas to life and test them quickly and cheaply.

Learn how this works in this podcast.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • The aim of a sprint is to test an idea for a new product to find out whether it is worth investing more money in. For example, you can use a sprint to test an idea for an app by creating a prototype. If users like what you’ve made, only then should you hire developers.
  • Each sprint should focus on one idea to test. Do not try to test multiple ideas in one sprint.
  • To figure out where the biggest risks in a new idea lie, ask yourself: if this time in a year, this project failed, why would it have done so?
  • A sprint...
Continue Reading...

How to review your year with UX Designer Sang Valte

career strategy ux design Dec 21, 2021

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action” - Peter Drucker. 

As 2021 comes to a close, it's useful to reflect on what worked, what didn't and how your industry evolved

In this episode, you'll hear from Sang Valte, Senior UX Director at international design agency Jellyfish, and Design Standards Board Member at General Assembly, about how he reviews his year and how the UX changed in 2021.

Questions to ask yourself for your end of year review:

  • What have you gained in your health & wealth? Where have you lost? Sang thinks of wealth in relationships, friendships and knowledge, and health in terms of financial health, mental health and physical health.
  • What have you done to further your skills in your career this year? Good UX designers must work to remove bias from their thinking to truly understand the users they make products for, says Sang. To sharpen critical...
Continue Reading...

How to solve the right problem

95% of new products fail, according to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen. But, usually this isn't because they are badly made, but because they don't solve the right problem.

Before you delve into product development, define the problem you are solving. In this episode, you'll learn from Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg, author of What's Your Problem and Innovation As Usual, about how to reframe problem solving in business and in life.

Learning notes:

  • Non-techies can play an important role on product teams by being focussed on the problem they are solving, because they are less likely to get stuck in the weeds of building.
  • Not all problem solving needs fancy technology. Often, small changes in design can have a big impact, at a much lower cost. 
  • Being focussed on the problem is vital at the start of product development, and as your product matures. Keep analysing how people use it to see if you're still solving the right problem.

To learn key technology...

Continue Reading...

How to make a prototype for your product: The Sprint Method

Making a prototype is a key step in your journey in bringing your tech idea  to life. Begin with UX research, which we covered in last week’s episode.

With your research done, it’s time to move on to making a “fake product," which you will test with real users to see if there is enough demand to invest in creating the real thing.

To do this, Sophia takes you through the Sprint method developed by Google Ventures. Using this method, you can have a tested prototype in just 5 days.

 

Learning notes from this episode:

  • The aim of a prototype is test the key assumptions you are making about users and their behaviour.
  • Even the greatest prototype is usually very far from a plan that could be given to developers to code. For example, an app prototype from a sprint usually does not contain screens like the setting screen, where you can manage your account, or designs to reset a forgotten password.
  • Book 5 people to test your prototype. Research...
Continue Reading...

How to make a prototype for your product: start with research

The prototyping process is the first step in the product development journey. To go from idea to live app, site or algorithm, you need to test it with target users.

A good prototype can get you funding, but more importantly, it can show you whether the concept is worth pursuing in the first place.

One of the biggest mistakes non-technical founders make is hiring developers before they have a tested prototype. Listen to this episode and avoid this costly mistake.

 

Learning notes from this episode:

  • The prototype serves as an illustration of your product: it looks and feels like an app / site, but you don't need to write code to make it.
  • Algorithms in their simplest form can be tested using a spreadsheet .
  • The design process consists of 4 phases: discover, define, develop and deliver
  • To make a prototype, start with research: "Design is not just about how to build a solution, but whether a problem needs solving in the first place. Before working on prototypes and wire frames,...
Continue Reading...

The new fashion for designer CEOs

career strategy ux design Apr 28, 2021

The hemlines for skirts are not the only thing to be dictated by fashion. So is the experience of tech executives.

The fashion for developers turned CEOs like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg is giving way to designers at the helm. The founders of Airbnb and Snap were designers not developers.

Good design is always focused on the user. The human not the code is what matters.

This is an opportunity for non-techies to shine in tech, as founders, innovators and investors.

 

Learning notes from this episode:

 

  • The new breed of tech successes today value people who have a strong understanding of the user, not only engineering. 
  • Many of the technologies underlying the products we use today are not as frontier as they used to be. This means that products compete on their usability, not just on functionality.
  • Learn to think like a designer researching an idea. Study people. Understand what they want. Once you do that, then you can think of products to build and find people to...
Continue Reading...

How To Hire And Work With UX Designers

Great design is at the centre of the apps and sites we love. Bad design can kill a product, even if the underlying technology is world class.

Knowing how to hire the right designer and work with them effectively is a key skill all product makers need to have to succeed.

Listen to this episode to learn from Jasper Squier, MD at Intergalactic, a creative technology agency, and Ben West, Co-Founder of Eventbase, which mobile apps for the world’s premium events.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Always work with designers before hiring developers
  • Come to UX designers with a problem you want to solve, rather than a feature list
  • When you're thinking of target users for your product, think about their behaviour, not just demographics

 

If you want to get more practical advice on how to hire designers and developers to make your idea come to life, get our ebook: How To Hire Your Product Team And Go From Idea To App: a guide for non-technical founders

...

Continue Reading...
1 2
Close

50% Complete

Sign Up

Get insights on what non-techies really need to know about tech to run companies, transition careers and make smart investments.