When Silicon Valley's most prestigious VC in Q4 2012 sets up the Kliner Perkins Design Fellowship, and a National Design Award is given due to a designer's design entrepreneurial work you know the US is finally catching on. But what are the secrets to design breakthroughs? Here's a starting point:
1) Learn to code and understand web analytics: because in the beginning you can't afford a full web development effort and you will have to sell your goods online - there is no more door to door anymore and if you can't push the BUY button because there is no system to make that happen, your project is not going to make it.
2) Never underestimate how important design is: if your product looks bad, if your site does not work on tablet and smart phones it's all over. Customers know 1st impressions mean everything and now almost as much as the product itself.
3) Don’t allow design to damage your focus: if your not Steve himself, then you may have to work with someone that is and in that, be flexible as your design might not be your own
4) Keep a side project: Google allows 20% of time to employees own projects. Use this as your guiding principle as you can't "design" all day many times your building what has already been designed
5) Read everything. Listen To everything. Experience as much new as possible: design inspiration is the key to disruptive design and zigging when others are zagging - the point to "winning" new clients in a sea of also-rans
6) A prototype is worth 1000 words: this is an absolute must. Prototype fast and Prototype often. The faster you and clients can see what is going on the faster you get to the endpoint
7) Think like a student as that is what a designer is: if you can't think outside the box you just created you can't innovate. The tighter the rules the harder it is to be "different" and different can sometimes be disruptive or even fully "innovative" by Schumpeters definition.
And there are many more, but with these your products will be that much further ahead of the competition.
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