Lesson to Startups: The Definition of “Design” is Changing 

By Jon Fukuda, header graphic by Byron Stanford, Creative Director, Not Just BS Design

At the recent Longmont Startup Week, our company – Limina – sponsored the Design Track to help startups learn more about how design-driven approaches to products, services, and solutions are the key innovation differentiator in the startup arena.

There are many interpretations and implementations of “design” in the startup community.  It’s inherent in product creation, user experience (UX), and product usability. When design is done right, it is baked in from the very inception of the solution. End users of well-designed solutions don’t even realize it, but interaction with that product or service is intuitive and seamless. When design is implemented as an afterthought, users generally figure it out… and are ultimately left frustrated, which isn’t good for anyone.

The most hard-hitting idea we wanted participants to take away from Startup Week is that the definition of “DESIGN” is changing. Today, business and technical engineering-driven products are giving way to design driven innovation. Business and consumer solutions are winning in the market because they’re being reframed to better fit into the context of real-world and real-life end user needs. As a result, the conversation is changing from consumer markets to engagement markets – answering the question, “How does our solution best meet real human needs?”

Longmont Startup Week 2018’s Design Track was put together specifically to present and transfer knowledge, techniques, resources, and expertise directly from design leaders on the front lines. Here is a quick recap of some of the design session learnings and how we are working to change the conversation around design:

The Need for Empathy
I delivered a talk on designing for multicultural considerations, which covered the need for empathy-based user requirements gathering, and design for niche markets and multicultural applications. Companies should understand that user segmentation is more than language and multilingual solutions, it’s context and scenarios that drive opportunity for market differentiation and user adoption.

Managing Product Requirements
We offered this design session to cover a range of skills and tools to manage product requirements, how and when to manage product features with a team, and how to drive the roadmap to successfully meet the needs of the users without sacrificing business and technical requirements and limitations.

The Google Venture Design Sprint Method (adapted for you)
This session provided an overview of the Google Venture Design Sprint method and ways that the method can be adapted to provide low-cost business, design, and technical innovation to an organization at a fraction of the usual cost.

Demystifying Design
We realize demystifying design and driving design process to harmonize with engineering teams can be a challenge. This presentation covered key insights on working with engineering teams to smooth out misconceptions and miscommunication that can happen in a design and development lifecycle.

Why Consumer Electronics Fail
As UX practitioners we often make concessions, especially when our cost-conscious clients don’t want to invest in a full research cycle. However, this comes at the expense of an innovative solution. We loved this session’s hardline approach that the research must be performed in full, or there is no deal.  Attendees gained a wealth of knowledge on how and why consumer electronics often fail in the marketplace.

Thanks to all our presenters for donating their time and talents: Drew Jensen, VP, Product at Inhabitech; Jackson Carson, Director of UX/UI at SnapEngage (@snapengage); Chris Alvarez (@longlivetheux), Director of UX at Derive; and Brian Baker, Owner of Rebelv2.

Bringing Diverse Perspectives Together
Limina also hosted a speed networking event for designers to mingle with business owners and talk about how their skills, needs, experiences, and expertise could complement each other.  Bringing entrepreneurs together with designers is always a great time, and the Longmont Startup Week designer speed networking event was no exception.

And, A Design Battle!

To round out the week, we also hosted a Design Battle that provided a fun and exciting platform for front range designers to showcase their talent to the startup community. We had a great turn out, and we’d like to give a shout out to Carly Siegle (@CarlySiegle and @createdbycarly), our Design Battle Champion!

We look forward to providing more opportunities for startups to learn how design can drive innovation through our local meetup: LOCO | UX.  We’ll host some of these sessions and more for folks who missed out or want a refresher, along with more sessions to boot!  Hope to see you there!

Interested in learning more? Follow LiminaUX on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram.

Read about Longmont Startup Week (#LSW18) in the Longmont News.