FreshBooks’ Design Methodology

There is a lot to learn from these guys

Here is all the important info I could find about the product development lifecycle at FreshBooks. I find their methods extremely impressive and am grateful that they make this kind of information publicly available.

I think it is important to note that the following is not about bogging down down product teams with meetings. The exercises are supposed to be short and powerful. When executed correctly, they have the potential to eliminate a lot of process related issues in an agile workflow.


Mondays — Charette

  • Charette is a group sketching session.
  • Anybody can join the Charette (less than 6 people). Should be about an hour long.
  • Identify a problem — “How might we… solve problem A, B, and C”.
  • Declare the hypothesis.
  • Identify some problems before the Charette so you can look at how others have solved the same problem.
  • Generate ideas, identify problem points, sketch ‘em out on paper.
  • Don’t worry too much about ‘bad’ ideas.
  • Review sketches at the end. Take a vote on which ideas are great. Take these ideas to Tuesday.

2. Tuesdays — Refine Your Sketches

  • Each of the ‘design circles’ (Tuesday and Friday) should take 1–2 hours.
  • It is important for their to be a solid moderator.
  • Present sketches (set a time limit for presentations).
  • Make sure each design circle has an outcome or a takeaway.
  • Evaluate hypothesis / assess iteration of design solutions.
Design Circles should not be confused with critique s— they are useful for aligning on approach but not for micromanaging decisions.

3. Wednesday — Interactive Prototyping

  • Build prototypes of design hypotheses from day before.
  • Prepare for user testing.
  • Use InVision or code (maybe).

4. Thursdays — User Testing

  • Can be cheap, fast, and easy.
  • Try craigslist and offer small gift cards or setup a user testing exchange with other small startups — use a survey to weed out bad eggs.
  • Send an email to current users / social channels to recruit participants.
  • Use youcanbook.me for scheduling.
  • Consider using ethn.io for pop up on homepage.
  • Use screenhero.com for remote testing.
  • Use usertesting.com for 50.00 a pop random user videos.
  • Read Steve Krug’s Rocket Surgery Made Easy for knowledge.
  • Don’t do in person testing on design or code that is already in the wild, there are better ways to test this stuff.
Treat people who come to the office as human beings, not as statistics.

5. Friday — Review Test Results

  • Design Circle to review test results.
  • Polish up and send to devs.

Below are the source articles I’ve summarized. All the credit goes to FreshBooks’ for sharing their design methodology. Sharing is caring.


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