Thursday, September 16, 2010

Design for Non Designers - Jason Putorti's talk

Jason Putorti -

Slides from the talk:

Annotated notes:

- Jason left after it was bought by Intuit.
- He was offered a job at Bessemer Ventures.
He consults with about 3 dozen companies in the portfolio.

1. Design can change businesses

- The whole premise of “We want your bank passwords. Trust me.”
- The visual design affects creditability in a very emotional way.
- A Craigslist design was not going to work.
- Notice on the site: Safe & Secure is dead last.
- Don't think of an elephant.
- No motivation to sign-up.
- Overwhelm the customer with benefits.

- Shoes is a commodity business. Focused on crafting customer experience.
- Often times Zappos upgrades your shipping to 2-day for free (wow!).

- Picture of the first MP3 player (not Apple obviously - Creative Labs?)
- Whole process: rip, burn, copy, very cumbersome.
- Lots of friction
- This product had 1st mover advantage.
- However, Apple was the 1st with product/market fit
- ITunes: designed around the music experience

- I'm on Twitter. vs. You should follow me on twitter here.-> 173% increase in clips
No big design/code changes: just a quick text change to compel the user to
take action.

- Use this site test 2 different versions of the same page (layout changes)

2. Design is more than pretty pictures.

- What is design? Design thinking: essential ability to combine empathy, creativity, and rationality to meet user needs & drive business success.

User experience:
How your product feels
Refers to Jesse James Garrett's book: Elements of User Experience (
Going through signup: completing a task in the product all the way to the error message in the product.
Make error messages things that users can take action on!

Customer experience:
It represents the sum of all the interactions a customer has with a company.
You should assign a value for each of them to better quantify.

Signup flow:
Completing a product.
Error message in the product
Vieiwng your home page
Reading a marketing email
Dealing with customer service

Your brand is how customers feel about you.
Shows AT&T logo
(You can hear people groan – translates to people associating the company with dropped calls)
Steve Ballmer picture

3. Great design: talks benefits, not features.

Four examples: Understand your money vs. providing 20 different color configurations
“Remove your personal data” vs. “computer fuzzy-matching algorithm
iPod Ad: “All kinds of fun”
No GB storage spcs, video clip of just people having fun
The site has clear calls to action.
It has a clear visual heirarchy.
At the bottom there are creditability logos (Ebay, Intel, etc.)

4. Great design: thinks in flows, not screens.

1.User enters email address/login.
2.User enters pw.
3.User clicks Login button
4.System validates login

Submit button: just don't let them submit. Hide submit button and validate while the user's typing. You may consider disabling the submit button.

5. Great design: doesn't make the user think
Low-hanging fruit
Banana: if users can't find the banana, they are going to leave.
Yahoo example:
Focused on making the site a portal, put too much stuff because click impressions and banner ads made money. Thought about business objective, not the user objective.
They put search right in the middle!

Take note of task flows in your product.
The truth is that people really don't want to use your software. Make it easy.

Put your site on an interaction scale.
Obvious <-----------> Requires Thought

Measure it this way.

Make it obvious what's clickable.
If you can't, make it discoverable. example: Hover over the pie charts, then click. The user has to discover it, but only has to learn once.

People don't read, they scan.
Newspaper have figured this out. They have a visual heirarchy that allows people to drill into stories in which they're interested.

Minimize noise
American Airlines site: it's an example of marketing departments gone wild.
Need someone to say no.
Bright colors, too much text.

- Omit needless words.

Users pick the 1st reasonable option..
- Example: I am....

Too many options leads to paralysis. offers 3 ways to do a demo:
Schedule a Live Demo
On-demand Demo
Intact Test Drive

American Airlines site:
Put a person on the page → go straight to their eyes.

Want to get famous? make fun of a site. He shows an example of a mockup of
what AA's site could look like redesigned.

6. A great design process starts with a great story

- Does everyone on your team know what the experience will be like interacting with your offering five years from now on?

How would it work if it were magic? OpenTable futuristic example: turning it into a concierge service.

7. Uses design as a lever.

The best marketing tool you can have is a well-designed application.
Business development:
Assign your revenue with valuable and legitimate users tasks. does this well to save you money.

Negative interactions drive negative social media.
Easy tools of mass command: easy to kill your brand.
No amount of money can buy the media to fix a boring product.
Have a brand czar.

8. A great design process gets people out of the office.

Have your teams spend at least 2 hours watching people experience your product or service.
Ex: logging people out because they were constantly going to take care of other things.

9. A great design process...has a bible.

A startup needs a brand czar.
Large company should have a style guide.
As opposed to each department have its own customer-facing guidess.

10. A great design process...repeats and refines.
In the last six weeks, have you held a celebration of a recently introduced design problem?


Jason: considers himself the defender of user experience. Tensions with the biz dev: wanted to do a whole bunch of pop-ups of financial products. Rather than doing it this way, he put it in the activity stream. This way, it did not tick people off yet still achieved the comapny's goals.

Role of Product Manager: gather intelligence like the CIA.
Loudest users don't always represent the majority. at one point wanted to consider managing transactions, but you introduce a whole tons of complexity (i.e. reconciling inconsistencies of your balance).

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