Life of Design: Kevin Flores

Head of Product Design at 23andMe

Colin Campbell
Oct 29, 2017 · 6 min read
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1. How did you begin working in the wonderful world of design?

I moved to the Bay Area where I had a brief stint in a multimedia studies MFA program prior to landing a job at a video production company. I was hired to build a department to create interactive content on CD-ROMs. After that, I started a company with a few friends and we rode the dot.com wave of the 90s. This was the kick off of my non-traditional design career.

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2. What is the purpose of design?

That being said, I don’t think design needs to always prioritize function over style. Sometimes we must champion an experience that prompts an emotional response. Not every problem is equal in scale and importance, so how we approach solutions needn’t be either.

The best case is when your work can serve both function and emotion.

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3. How would you describe the intent (mission) behind 23andMe’s design?

Given that our service is grounded in science, we have to be responsible with our design. This is most important where our customers learn something about themselves that could have a profound impact on their lives. We maintain a level of sensitivity in certain areas of our product, such as genetic health risks.

Simultaneously, we aim to illustrate how everyone is similar at a genetic level and how unique we are as individuals. From this perspective, we have more room to experiment and hit different chords in our design. We can be more light-hearted if we reveal that, based on your genetics, you are likely to have inherited your dimples from a specific grandparent or if you are less Neanderthal than your best friend.

We strive for our design to instill trust, but with personality.

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4. What’s one thing you believe about design that most others don’t?

5. What key problems are often overlooked by design?

We typically build the active user product state and features first — overlooking early experience. I’m referring to the gap between basic onboarding and a fully-engaged product user. The opportunity to establish the best relationship is often missed. For this reason, it’s good to have a designer dedicated to this area.

Also, we generally design and build features serially and in silos according to a roadmap. Eventually, a product reaches a state where everything doesn’t quite fit together. Internally, it may all make logical sense. But from a fresh user’s perspective, it’s just complex or confusing.

If the team internalizes the entire customer journey, they might better account for the effect of changes or new features across the experience. This may prompt more deliberate and purposeful evolution of a product over time vs. slowly reaching the point where a major overhaul is required.

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6. What is the most difficult thing about design?

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7. When is design “done”?

At least for digital products, the practice of prototype testing and iterative development has made it easier to design incrementally. Continually improving as more feedback is gathered shouldn’t be a crutch, however. Given constraints, you need to design the best solution and you have to launch.

8. What does the future of design look like to you?

But the goals to optimize for presentation, learning or storytelling will still rely on foundational principles: information hierarchy, sequence and density; motion, speed and flow; alignment, harmony and tension; color, pattern and contrast; balance of visual and typographic elements; impact and emotional resonance, and so on.

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I hope to be surprised by how designers of the future creatively develop new exciting experiences.

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Life of Thought

Celebrating Knowledge!

Colin Campbell

Written by

Celebrating Knowledge. Content @villageglobal | Prev: Writer for @garyvee | Personal publication = Life of Thought

Life of Thought

Celebrating Knowledge! Building a community around philosophy, education & ideas. Original epistemology and curation courtesy of Colin Campbell. LinkedIn Twitter, Instagram and Medium @lifeofthought | AMA at 21.co/colinc

Colin Campbell

Written by

Celebrating Knowledge. Content @villageglobal | Prev: Writer for @garyvee | Personal publication = Life of Thought

Life of Thought

Celebrating Knowledge! Building a community around philosophy, education & ideas. Original epistemology and curation courtesy of Colin Campbell. LinkedIn Twitter, Instagram and Medium @lifeofthought | AMA at 21.co/colinc

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