It’s Time to Get Serious

The ‘Design Sprint’, made extremely popular by Google Ventures is a highly problematic approach to innovation. At best, it’s a glorified ‘team-building’ exercise that has made its way into thousands of massive corporations, startups, and company workshops. Due to its adoption and promotion by Google, it has spread like absolute wildfire, but even on its’ best days shouldn’t be really be taken seriously in any organization, big or small. The reasons are simple.

First, it lacks any scientific rigor. Second, it creates social tension, leading to hurt egos and learned helplessness. Lastly, it is just too hasty and rudimentary for massive, multi-million dollar decisions to be made. Moreover, design sprints are an exercise better suited for social conferences— not high stakes development decisions. Could you imagine Nasa using design sprints to develop solutions for a man-mission to Mars? …

(It’s Not About the Likes)

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Source: Jeff Davidson

Have you ever looked up an old partner, potential boss, employer, or long lost friend on Google? Congratulations, you’re a voyeur.

There exists an extremely powerful, borderline perverse, and highly profitable ‘feature’ in many of the social media applications we use. Companies make billions off this feature, and it’s a behavioral phenomenon that has its roots in evolution. That feature is the ability to know who has been looking at you—who has viewed your content—sometimes without them knowing you have this privilege. I’ve labeled these phenomena as social voyeurism—the act of looking at people’s information, activity, and content without them knowing. Voyeurism is the pleasurable act one gets from watching or seeing something that doesn’t see it. …

It’s Time to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Software applications don’t directly give you food, water, shelter, affection, or sex — the only thing they do is disseminate information that may lead to all these more basic human needs. Thus, graphic, UX, and software design is really about the selection and organization of information, through time. Information is everything, and you need to know what it is, what it means, and how to represent it in an honest and functional way to be a true asset to a company or society at large.

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Choropleth Visualization of Different Urban Planning Metrics Using Excel and Illustrator—Source: Jeff Davidson Design

Designers aren’t scientists, mathematicians, economists, or even very rigorous researchers—and that’s fine. That in mind, most of them probably haven’t seen an Excel spreadsheet since their high school accounting class, and this is a big problem that’s plaguing the industry. In most of the shops or companies I’ve seen, and dozens of products I’ve worked or consulted-on, designers are either spoon-fed metrics they are supposed to visualize, or they simply assume what a particular bar graph or chart should read. As someone who has extensive experience both pulling, calculating, and visually representing data—I can tell you that the basic lack of statistical knowledge is detrimental to good product design, especially in the information age. This fear, ignorance, or oversight is especially apparent in the plethora of digital products that have functionless dashboards. Have a software product? …

The Importance of Full-Sensory Experience and the Case Against Efficiency

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It’s time to ‘feel’ life.

Americans are experiencing the majority of their waking lives in 2D. According to a study by Neilson, the average U.S. citizen spends over 11 hours per day on their devices. Considering sleep, that means the average American spends more time looking at a screen than interacting with the full-spectrum universe. Many researchers posit that this has serious health consequences. A study conducted by San Diego State University showed that more screen time was associated with lower psychological well-being with effects being; less curiosity, lower self-control, more distractibility, more difficulty making friends, less emotional stability, being more difficult to care for, and an inability to finish tasks. Although screen-time can involve many different activities, the evidence keeps mounting that staring at a screen for the majority of our waking hours just isn’t good for our health. Who would have thought? …

Referrals are the Lifeblood of Any Business

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Human’s evolved to bear and share experiences.

Contrary to popular opinion, businesses are not successful because of their sales, marketing, human resources, advertising, brand, or sophisticated acquisition strategies—they are successful because their product or service is awesome, and the palpable experience it provides causes it to spread virally requiring a minimum investment in all of these former departments. Moreover, great products market themselves, and this is why good experience/product design is absolute marketing gasoline—one of the best outside investments a company can make. The biggest reason why product design is such a great investment is that it adds to the perceived, functional, experiential, and mnemonic value of the good or service. This hits all levels of the consumer journey and ultimately leads to exponential growth propagated by word-of-mouth referrals. …

Designing experiences with a positive ending boosts user perception and referrals

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Illustration: Jeff Davidson Design

What does a free toothbrush, the fastest sprinter in a relay race, and the sweetest dish on the menu all have in common? They all happen at the end of an experience.

This article is about the bulletproof rule anyone can use to boost their service business and even quality of life. Not only will this rule improve your customer retention and profit — nearly anyone can use it to enhance their relationships, creative hobbies, or seemingly banal day-to-day activities. But this strategy is so effective, it has spread like absolute wildfire in almost every single industry — from sports to entertainment to dentistry. …

This Activity Prepares You For Hardships

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Me falling on my butt for the millionth time.

As a solo designer going through the inevitable hardships of opening and operating a business, I decided to reflect on what the activity has taught me along my journey. I’ve been skateboarding for over 15 years and although it is a physically demanding sport, I’m sure that if I’m still standing at 70 I’ll continue pushing along. Below are the 18 invaluable lessons that skateboarding has taught me in business and life. This is a feel-good article.

1) Never Expect Immediate Success

Our culture glorifies youth idols, but the reality is that these people are absolute anomalies. Success, traction, and actually ‘landing it’ usually takes a while, especially when starting and operating a business. Athletes and pop stars are celebrated for their youthful qualities, but most people don’t earn their income or provide economic value by competing athletically or modelling their impeccable bodies. Instead, most of us do it through the acquisition of knowledge, skill, and practice. The older we get the wiser we become, and that’s something that’s not espoused in Western/American culture. Did you know the average age of a CEO is actually 58 years old? …

Four Critical Qualities that Nobody Talks About

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What Makes a Great Logo?

With the unveiling of the new Slack logo which has caught a lot of buzz, I decided to expound on some of the qualities of a great logo that nobody talks about. Let me preface this by saying this isn’t another article about logo design. While any of these ‘rules’ can potentially be broken, they do offer insight into what is a very important part of a business—the commissioning and selection of the visual stimuli that represent it. One of the reasons it is so important is because a logo or brand ‘pivot’ can cost a considerable amount of time and money, especially with companies who deal physical products. For these reasons, it’s best to try and get it right the first time. …

The fallacy that makes us bad at time estimates and how to fix it

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The Death of Marat is an unfinished (speculated) 1793 painting by Jacques-Louis David. Source

There is one thing that all contractors (especially new ones) are very bad at. It’s one of the most challenging things to do properly, and the error is committed by both individuals and monolithic institutions — always and probably forever. Contractors are notorious for underestimating the amount of time it takes to complete a project.

I’ve been contracting for over seven years, and I — to this day — still make this mistake. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when I read a book that explains this false-estimation tendency in scientific terms, that I understood the phenomenon known as the “planning fallacy.” …

On Aristotle and Rhetoric

I’ve spent most of my career trying to design great products. Over time I’ve come to realize that a good concept and product is only half the battle. In a world of information overload, things need to be seen, and that task is becoming more and more difficult every day. Not only does the product or service need to be seen, but it also needs to be understood and remembered because humans mentally purchase things prior to the actual functional use of them. They have to imagine the value before using it.

This article is about the art of acquiring customers — more specifically it outlines the three ‘pillars’ of rhetoric as outlined by Aristotle; ethos, pathos, and logos. I will also propose a new critical method of ‘persuasion’ that is necessary for sales in the twenty-first century. This fourth pillar is experiential, meaning people actually need to get it, prior to a fully committed transaction. I’ll argue that free trials and the digital economy make it very difficult to just persuade someone to buy something. Pure extrinsic marketing doesn’t fly anymore—great products and services do. In this article, you will learn what these pillars are and how you can harness them to create more effective advertising and marketing strategies. …


Jeff Davidson

I help companies convert and retain more users · Get free design + strategy lessons on my site:

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