The Man in Blue


Recent reading for startups & design

I managed to dive into my backlog of articles-to-be-read recently and surfaced with some gems. Here they are:

Observational Customer Research

“The foundation of all great service delivery is the continuous observation of customers. The purpose of observational research is to understand what people are doing. The purpose of qualitative research is to understand what people are thinking or feeling. Only when you combine observational and qualitative research with quantitative data do you get a truly comprehensive understanding of your customers.”

“The purpose of observing customers is not to confirm a design, but rather to help develop a design.”

Let go of the A/B test

“If you have someone who’s unskilled running your program, they can make small mistakes with huge consequences. Executing the wrong types of tests, ending tests too early, and improper segmentation are huge misfires.”

Introducing research ops

“Ops” seems to be a fashionable suffix to append to a specialty nowadays. Design ops. Design system ops. User research ops. It all gets a little confusing as to what “ops” teams actually do. This article was light on details, but helped me further crystallise my thoughts around how “ops” teams might help a company. Their remit is to essentially help improve X without doing X. So in the case of user research, how do you help improve user research without doing the user research? In the case of design, how do you help improve design without doing the design? This might include:

Lessons from interviewing 400 engineers

“The problem with the framing of soft skills is that it suggests that you can’t evaluate or teach those skills — that they are inherent qualities that some people have and some people don’t. I put those people skills at the same level of importance as technical skills. Can you write JavaScript and communicate effectively with business stakeholders? That’s what I need in a growing organization.”

Design leadership handbook

It always handy to have regular checkups on what you’re doing and a reminder of all the things that keep your team ticking along smoothly. This article reminded me of lots of great stuff around setting team values, hiring the right people, 1-on-1s, and shaping design vision.

Cameron Adams Cameron Adams is a co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Canva, where he leads the design & product teams and focuses on future product directions & innovative experiences. Read a bit more about him ›