No one questions the notion that design matters, and good design has also been rewarded. I’m a recipient of that reward, having been a founding engineer at Mint.com. While design matters at every stage of a product’s lifecycle, there are some elements to design that matter more than others. For example, in the initial stages pixel perfection isn’t as necessary as one would think to validate a product’s concept. What is important is the overall experience a customer has with the brand new product. Hence one should focus on designing the following experiences:
The reason these two aspects are critical is because they will help to convey the product’s value proposition.
Being pixel perfect won’t hurt, but if you’re limited on time and resources, you can de-prioritize it. It’s more important to have a good skeleton, and iterate than strive for perfection in all aspects of a product early on.
As an engineer I’ve been taught mostly how to design software focusing on security, scaling, and test driving development. Designing for user experiences is something I’ve learned on my own. Initially I started with like primers like: Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman and The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda. Both were good at teaching me high level design concepts as well as the need for emotional appeal when designing products.
As I grew more interested in creating products on my own, I searched for resources that would give me a step-by-step approach to prototyping. The first book I came across was Design for Hackers byDavid Kadavy. This is a great book for those who know how to build a functional product, but could use a little help refining the design of the product to enhance a customer’s experience. Kadavy focuses on web design, and exposes simple concepts that will take your product’s design to the next level.
In this book Mardov does a great job of exposing the latest technologies that leverage existing design libraries like Bootstrap so that your prototype has a pretty aesthetic from day one. This books also serves as a great primer in general for prototyping.
If you’re interested in reading the other books that have helped me with designing products check out the programming/design section of my reading list.