Fast design will kill your product

21 July 2020

Sir Jonathan "Gotta go fast" Ive

If you agree with the above, let’s continue on this journey. If not tweet me or comment below :)

Doing lots of things quickly feels good. It's human nature. Cranking out work gives an outward semblance of progress. In the context of product design however, an expression comes to mind:

"Quiet, calm deliberation disentangles every knot"

Gilbert and Sullivan

As product designers, we are tasked with solving difficult problems. To solve these problems our initial inclination can be to design a fancy new interface. At times, the result of good design can be making no change at all or even removing something entirely.

The main challenge with adding things to a product is that after some time, people expect it to always be there. There is so much inertia once something is in place and is being used. You can’t remove it easily. This is why adding something in the first place is such an important decision. With user interface design, quality is better than quantity. You can only fit so much onto a screen at any given time so difficult decisions need to be made.

"Just add in this button"

A co-worker, probably

Sometimes I think about a small piece of UI for a long time. And a lot of the time it feels unproductive. It feels so weird to spend half a day thinking deeply about a button. But the presence of one more button within a user interface could make or break it.

UI scenario: Add a button to this screen to let users do (x).

This is a considered approach to UI design. It will ensure that the user always has the best experience when using your product. The compounding effects of strong design decisions quickly stack up. Kind of like compounding interest.

UX scenario: The user should be able to do (x).

These are some of the questions I ask myself when adding elements to an existing interface. When designing an entirely new user interface there are many more considerations I take into account. Maybe for another blog post :)

So what are the takeaways? If you want to kill your product, make lots of design decisions really quickly. And do that for a sustained period of time.

If you want a well designed product that is both a joy to use and to work on, go slow to go fast. Good design is like slow cooked food, the process is long but the outcome is always worth it.

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