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Sunday, January 10, 2010

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Denise Brinkmeyer

Loved your rant.. we might be kindred spirits.

May I take it one step further? In my opinion, the reason for the failure is deeply rooted in the communication skills of analysts. More often than not, they are so busy advancing their opinions that they fail to listen to the consumer. I mean REALLY listen (an active event) as opposed to simply hearing (a passive event).

Business owners are guilty of it to. How many small business websites have you seen where the company's mission statement is up front and center. Uggg.. don't tell me about your goals... tell me how you meet MY NEED. Why is your product better than ANY OTHER that I'm about to click over and look at?

How many startups are based on "there is a pony in here somewhere" without getting their boots dirty enough to find out?

An online marketing strategy or a product design strategy requires an understanding that comes only from listening to your target customer.

There are very few good listeners today.

Cookie Monster

OK, I'm late to this party but... $0.02

Its distribution!

Design is wonderful and can be a great attention getter (just ask Apple).

But think about this: Google, Twitter, Amazon, YouTube, Skype, Facebook, Yahoo, etc, etc, etc.

None of these had/have great design. But man-o-man have they got distribution.

Zeidel

BIG HUGS. Love it. Keep it coming.

Nate Pagel

I'm a huge believer of the importance of design. I'm not so sure about design + marketing >> engineering. Design should incorporate engineering, not be opposed to it or somehow differentiated from it. It's important to remember that these are processes, not discrete elements. Example: Microsoft beat Apple. Apple had WAY better design and marketing. BTW - I'm a huge fan of applying truths of hard product design into software dev, e.g: Dieter Rams' ten most important principles for good design: http://www.vitsoe.com/en/gb/about/dieterrams/gooddesign

Daveknox

Dave - Brilliant post and something that really resonated from what I have seen as well. I won't hammer the point everyone else has made but I will add one. You call out specific skills but I would argue that what these roll up to is called Brand Marketing.

There is a tremendous opportunity for entrepreneurs to start thinking of their companies / products / start-ups as brands. This holds true both on how they build the business (your points in the post) but also how they sell their business. Many start-ups today have the end goal of driving revenue through advertising or marketing dollars from brands. Yet most companies and investors have never been in the shoes of a "brand person" to understand exactly what this means. I love the call for interpreters / sherpas to guide this blending of cultures & skillsets

denise

spanky is dead on.

i'm a generalist that can wear many hats and have at various consumer focused start ups. being a generalist makes you valuable at the beginning of a venture, but as the company acquires some structure and "roles" you get pushed out.

additionally, a lot of start-ups spend the least on design and marketing and when times are tight those people are the first to go, or they were only hired as consultants to begin with.

so, these types of people rarely get the opportunity at a long stretch of time in one company to prove themselves and work up to vc level.

jon

You are going to get banned from the best VC and 'born rich kid' parties in the Bay Area if you keep this attitude up.

SmokeJumper

Dave,

You really ought not to be so reserved in saying what needs to be said.

You put forward some thought provoking assertions. Never really thought about why no graphic designers are VC's - but the (good) ones I know would likely off themselves after a year of not being able to ply their craft actively.

I've experienced first-hand the kind of verbal clusterf*&k that goes on during a funded start-up's board meeting when all or most of the investors know jack about contemporary forms of marketing, or worse were EVP or CMO of such and such B2B enterprise software 5-10 years ago (and think they are mktg gurus).

Brent
@SmokeJumper

Schwabe

This post rocked my world.
Exciting.

Olga Slavkina

Hi Dave,

I fully agree with you and this is in fact one of the reasons I decided to focus one area of my brand management business precisely on web startups. Have a look here: http://www.schmoozyfox.com/the-foxs-den/webmobilestartups/.

Interface design and useability do sometimes get attention, as at least "enlightened" techies are aware of their importance. In my experience, though, product design and positioning, brand strategy and promotion are frequently an afterthought, implemented ineptly or forgotten about entirely. However, it's an area where investments can pay huge dividends. In fact, given the economics of the Internet, it can make all the difference between an out-and-out success story and complete failure. Some online businesses are figuring this one out. But for now it's still very much the exception to the rule.

-Olga

Ectopist

Dave,

One word. At least I think it's one word. Actually I'm pretty sure it isn't a word at all. But it sums up my assessment of what you write pretty nicely:

"Absof***inglutely!"

Why are the most obvious things those to which the most apparently qualified people are the most blind?

I have no clue. But I'm certainly with you on this one.

Mary

GREAT INSIGHTS:::: Of course they have no clue as to "user experience or online marketing", they're investors. I've met these guys they're sharks. Angles are kind friends kinda. But you're right; they're looking at the wrong data. (I believe in data driven design ie qualitative or experiential) Yet investors only want big samples from poorly formulated surveys and not real product research on contextual use. Sad but true, I would have thought by now is Silly Valley that investors were more savvy. I deal with VC here in Switzerland. (Don't laugh we just out ranked USA in innovation) Of course user experience here is like "huh?"
I would disagree with the notion that visual designers and UX designers have difficulty communicating. In general I find they can communicate very well if that environment is facilitated. Perhaps that is why the User Experience MGR/DIR should straddle both backgrounds. (or get that profile with + business for product management in a start-up) I agree UX designer are an odd breed. Look at some of the job descriptions ... they want you to write code? Not develop schematics or structures that you then evaluate, or research product or competitor uses /users.
Some Univ. programs focus on design (right brain) some focus on research (left brain). Then you get the developers certified by HFI, not sure what that means.
Dave, you do not need to use the profanities, your writing is strong enough as it is. I do find it offensive.
MAM

Matt Langan

When it comes to effective user experiences for startups & cutting-edge products there are two factors that I pay the most attention to:

1) Understanding of the basic principles of design
- A total 'duh', but is half of the equation nonetheless. An understanding of broad design concepts, as well as best practices for particular mediums, is the starting point

2) Culture
- Specifically, the culture from which the designer is bred. All things equal, a designer who has been an Internet User since birth is more likely to produce an 'authentic' internet experience than a designer who was raised in a print culture.

I think that a large part of the problem is that it's very hard for hiring managers to not only judge a portfolio itself, but also to trust the ability of a designer to execute on something that hasn't been directly demonstrated in their portfolio.

When it comes to hiring a designer, find someone with a solid design skillset whose personal style/culture reflects what your design hopes to achieve.

- Matt Langan
- User Experience | Involver

BTW TypePad should take note of their own FB Connect/commenting flow on here. If you draft a comment and THEN connect with FB you lose your comment when you're redirected to the post after login.

Mark Addison

Oh, Dave. I haven't read a rant from you in a while and here I thought you had lost your edge from drinking all that Sake. But seriously, your point is valid. A tangent case to your examples is many mobile start-ups (which are usually one-trick-pony app's, not companies): these guys want millions of consumers to make their screen the default yet their UI's look like they spent maybe a weekend on it. Such a shame.

P.S. I'm glad your rant didn't include your 'vitriol' this time (which don't dignify a response ;-)

Leroyburns

As someone who is experiencing a start-up in meltdown you have hit the nail on the head 100%! About a year and a half ago I was tasked with putting together the engineering team and most of the people we have in our team are unparalleled at what they do and this is proven by the range of successful startups and consultancies they have formed in the past. Unfortunately product development was mainly left to us geeks apart from the vague, "make it shiny like such and such web app" comment.

Our designers are from print and our marketing team were hired from traditional retailers. The board and investors are all comprised of people from a traditional tv media background who believe they understand the internet economy.

After painstaking attempts at subtly and not so subtly hinting that we need proven internet marketeers more than anything else and we need to engage our audience and get them to aid in driving development we're now in a position where it's just a matter of time before the investors pull the plug. There is this classic feeling where most of the company seem to resent the engineering team for 'failing to build the right product'.

In hindsight this was bound to happen looking at the background of everyone involved but hindsight's a bitch.

It's genuinely been the best year of my life and I now find it amusing that even though we all said this would eventually happen I genuinely believed that the strength of the engineering team would overcome the shortcomings of our team as a whole. doh!

Apologies for the anonymity of my post but it has to be this way!

Erik Burns

This article helped me understand why Dave McClure is my favorite tech Marketing Professional on the planet. "Dave McClure is a rockstar" is something I knew intrinsically but hadn't quite articulated why until I read this article.

I think I tend to underestimate how long it takes to achieve excellence in any given discipline. One of the gifts of working in the web for a looooong time, is that you finally begin to recognize true excellence when you see it. And if you are lucky, you can occasionally discover that excellence in yourself.

Evreeland

Dave -

Great post. This is my first time reading your blog, and I have immediately added it to my reader. When I first wanted to get involved in the startup world I was upset because I knew I wasn't cut out to be a hardcore developer. I definitely agree that design and marketing are just as key to a consumer internet startup as hacking ability, and I hope to be able to take advantage of this and hone these skills as much as I can as soon as I graduate in June.

-Vree

Liz Gebhardt

Dave -
Couldn't agree more with your rant re the need for tech startups to place more (or at least equal) value on design, marketing and communications skills. In my time in the Valley, I have found that many engineering founders and "execs" still think that these skill sets are about "making things pretty" with the digital versions of "crayons and typewriters." What they don't realize, and that your post/rant so ably points out, is that "brand identity" needs to manifest itself in all parts of a company - from visual identity, UX and communications to product code and truth - and when it does not, the company is weaker for that lack of practice and discipline.

Product (and company) naturally and deeply infused with brand identity (beyond logo and tagline) innately conveys differences that are immediately experienced and observable - noticed even when you’re not looking for them.

If interested in this concept, there's a model that goes with it at:
http://www.thinkingoutloud.com/eg_ventures/2009/07/brand-identity-its-more-than-a-logo-and-a-tagline.html

Thanks again for your post

Qkarmark

If I may add my two cents. I am a design professional that has often wanted to (and still may) participate in the start-up / entrepreneur landscape.

i wish to point out that I consider myself rather creative. I'm very visually and spatially oriented. I feel things around me and absorb them. I could be viewed at times as sinister, odd, peculiar boisterous and even dysfunctional. However, I classify these traits as right-brained: the non-analytical side of my brain that has less than optimal skills in linear-thinking. I understand numbers, but kind of don't really care about them much. By comparison, show me eight different fonts, and you'll have my full participation. Show me a product design or a website or a magazine, and I'll spend all my time absorbing it's visual impact and pretty much nothing else... (especially the magazines: I'm drawn to the images and the photos, and really only read the copy if I like the subject matter.)

Now compare that to the left-brained dominant: that's the dynamic at work right there. They see numbers for what they are, vs trying to translate them into another language or discipline. The people with the ideas don't know what do with them, and the people that have the business/programming/analytical experience are unable to communicate with (let alone find) the individual that wishes to explore this foreign landscape.

I've said it before, I'll say it again. Our programs and governments need to rethink how schools and universities are operated. Stop putting so much structure into our child's minds such that their inherent creativity isn't stifled by secondary curriculum. In five years from now, thinking outside the box will be a must. You will not be able to function competently unless you can look at a problem and include practical, tactile creativity to solve it, instead using years of a theoretical textbook knowledge full of actuarial and copy-laden postulates. I don't wish to discount the business-savvy scholars and communicators out there for our generation's future success, I simply wish to help folks realize that unless there is some way to foster a better model for educating youth, there will always be this techie vs creative concern.

spanky

You are SO right! I believe this is the case because the good online marketers and UX peeps focus on what they do best, and aren't too interested in moving up the corp ladder (making great powerpoint presentations, etc.) as the start-up grows in size, and gets more "corporate." Instead, they simply move on to the next start-up, and never earn the "title" that allows them to move into the VC world...

twitter.com/justinpirie

Outstanding post Dave!

Nathan makes brilliant points too- I think one of the reasons we have a world dominated by this personality type is that type 1 (Verbal) is because they can put their case across much more convincingly than personalities dominated by the other two types.

We then end up in a world where Verbal has huge influence- regardless of merit.

The problem for people who have a mix of 2 and 3 is expressing opinions that get taken seriously unless they operate in a culture where they are valued and measured accordingly.

What is Great however, in AARRR, Lean or CD environments this is changing as what the customer values and metrics prove is what is right. We're able to be creative- have hypotheses, test, measure and create non-linear improvements.


Justin
@justinpirie

p.s. If you fancy working with a Product Manager in the UK like Dave describes- give me a shout :p

Brian Greenbaum

I was about to write a long comment about the need for skilled generalists, but Christopher nailed it on the head. What the valley needs more of (and startups even more so) are employees that can competently wear many hats and utilize their unique ability to draw connections between all functional areas to make the right tactical and strategic decisions.

As software development becomes more democratized by cheap software, cheap hosting, open-source libraries and the sharing of code snippets, the number one differentiating factor between similar products will be UX. UX is not just UI design--it's the sum of experiences between a business+product and their customers. To win at UX you need people that can think about end-to-end user experience: marketing, copy, sales, visual design, ui design, product design, and customer service.

Entrep_thinking

Nathan, I'm with you re the visual. My mom was a great artist and i'm...well, I'm a trumpet player. oops. LOL But I really like your triad of skills - we actually don't have learning styles that vary that way (despite the hype) but we do have very strong preferences for how we operate.. and that history leads us to believe 9or not) in certain skill areas.

OTOH, Christopher, you make the case for being a better generalist. Ultimately, specialists work for generalists! The ultimate is to be a kickass generalist but have one killer speciality -- to be broad AND deep... but that's not easy.

Shana - an artist learning to code? Good on ya, that'll give you an enviable skill set. good luck with the studies!

Finslly, Erik, what you share seems sadly true. The hucksters ARE here. I'm involved with www.getyaro.com, a SM startup that was born at our Startup Weekend (I highly recommend it!) and they were smart enough to go get adult supervision (marketing, especially) immediately. Despite the barrage of bad math jokes on Twitter, the lead founder gets the marketing side & now working on re-doing UX/UI. Fun to see the path they're taking, compared to another SM startup that is all programmers! But to Dave's rant - will the investors get it?

Again, Dave, thanks for rant and to everyone for their comments.
NK in Boise

patricia

Web/media/etc. 2.0 is a low barrier market. This is the byproduct of it.

Smart, experiences people definitely exist in the market. It's just hard to find them because low barrier markets are crowded and noisy.

The barrier's on its way back up. In another year, it'll be much different.

David Hornik

Does it count as marketing experience that I designed my law firm's t-shirt before leaving the law to become a VC? :)

Shanacarp

As an art student who is slowly learning to code for my bachelor's thesis work, and who liked to hang around to comp sci and math students: It beats me how you are going to do this.

It is not a matter of drawing the thing, it is a matter of realizing how much of the web exists in time/space/place/culture*. And most people are not grounded enough to know what to do as well as transfer over enough skills in any direction.

*culture might be better defined in a social science terminology in the sense that by in effect creating time/space/place one can effectively create localized culture, even if it is dissonant from any physical local, or one cannot find the "immediate" local because of the non-physical nature of the internet.

CHammer

Fantastic discussion, and it feels eerily familiar. I started out a graphic designer, and gradually became a back-end programmer through the drive to make solutions that do what they should from the customers perspective not from that of the engineer developer who is typically focused on features. I don’t know how many times I’ve sat down with a client to discuss their future product and they immediately start listing features. I try to stop this and instead start with goals for the customer experience. For the most part It is like trying to deprogram a former cult member. So far I’ve made a career out of asking simple questions.

Camplejohn

Great post, but I hate the "there are some unnamed VCs, designers that get it." Come on Dave, grow your sac size, and name names!

Jeffboudier

On the money! Good educational resources about customer acquisition channels, tactics, metrics are lacking. Today you have to figure it out pretty much for yourself. It would be very helpful/interesting Dave if you took a handful of successful consumer internet startups and deconstructed which distribution methods were instrumental in their success and why it worked.

kevin pruett

brilliant post...loved reading every word. this is surprisingly the first "tech" read that doesn't put technical engineers on the highest pedestal. i loved hearing a different take on the debate.

Joshelman

Couldn't agree more with assertion #1 - building a great product and company is much more than just great engineering. Though that helps.

For #2 - I would look for money from someone who understands #1 implicitly even if they don't have the specific operational experience. Being able to manage a portfolio of companies to success is the mark of a great investor beyond what they can individually do.

Christopher Grant Ward

One thing I'd like to add to this discussion is that EVERYONE working in media development (not just the UX guy) needs to start being a more well rounded generalist about their profession.

I am the Lead UX Product/Designer at a startup music marketing company in San Francisco. I concept, I design. I do rapid prototyping, I sit in on CEO staff meetings, I sit in on dev meetings. I do usability testing, R&D, the occasional coffee run. I manage projects, time, resources, I've coded php, and do code html and css ALL THE TIME. I ask questions about the pros and cons of Ruby vs. Python and demand my co-workers think just as much about the interface, interaction and experience we're putting out there.

Thinking that "I do UX" and "that guy does code" JUST WON'T WORK ANYMORE. The time for specialization in web development over. Yeah sure, my primary focus will probably always be UX, but to the point of this article, we all need to contribute to UX, we all need to be thinking about the product, and we all need to be striving to be better at all aspects of the products we're building.

I'm pretty sure as 'code' becomes more and more fungible, our value will increasingly lie in our ingenuity, broad grasp of common problems and our experience solving them. That's what is going to make media professionals stand out in the next decade.

Nathan Beckord

Great post Dave!

Continuing on the thread of Heath, Norris and Dan, when you boil it down, most people usually have strength in 1 or 2 areas, but rarely all 3...these areas being:

+Verbal & written word (marketers, sales)
+Analytical (engineers and also probably finance/numbers guys)
+Visual (artists, designers, UX, UI etc.)

The most common combos are probably 'verbal + visual' and 'analytical + verbal'. I think it's very rare to have 'visual + analytical', and almost impossible to find all 3.

Occasionally you find people who have super-strength in just 1 area but are completely lacking in the others...I'm thinking of a sailing buddy of mine who has a stanford engineering degree and can McGyver anything electronic, but the guy writes at a 3rd grade level. I can also think of several amazing designers who are absolutely petrified of numbers. Personally, I can string words together and crunch numbers with the best of them, but task me with designing anything visual and I sit there staring at a blank screen.

Anyway, to get the point, I would argue that the advice of finding investors with design, development or marketing experience is off-track. An investor's job is simple: generate a return for their LPs (thus, the requirement of being analytical or 'analytical + verbal'). It is not to guide on website UI or clever social media marketing campaigns (which would be the very rare analytical + visual).

If they can provide value along UI or marketing design lines, great...I think it was Tim Draper who came up with the viral sig file idea for Hotmail way back when...but in most cases that role is probably better served by an internal team member or by someone on the advisory board, not your VC.

Thus, since a VC's core job responsibility is generating an ROI (analytical + verbal), why not use business judo and channel that energy into working on the "deal"...exit strategy or partnerships, etc? In other words, get a (mostly quant) VC who is really good at their job and work with that, vs. trying to find this mythical analytical + visual VC?

In a nutshell, "play to strengths?"

Nathan Beckord, VentureArchetypes

ErikBoles

Wow! And a rant it was! Well done.

Dave, in all honesty, this is nothing new, I know it and you know it, you have been doing this long enough to see the second coming of the leeches.

Everyone thinks they have a great idea, and many of them do, and they have been told that "All you have to do is build it and they will come" -- bigger lies have ever been told.

Remember back in the late 90's when everyone had to have a website...they HAD to, no thought to why, or how it tied to business, or the ROI, or.... you get the idea.

This age is absolutely no different, people with great ideas are listening to the "Social Media Experts" that are telling them that building a kick-ass product and pimping it on twitter and facebook is enough. Too many are claiming the "If you have 10 passionate followers you can monetize that shit", and people are listening to them, because the "social media experts" have somehow convinced them that traditional business rules no longer apply, and that all you need is a following on twitter, no longer a need to develop a good user experience, or market the product, or even identify your primary brand attributes, target demographic, audience engagement practices, etc.

It is sad, and it is frustrating, and your rant is well placed, but it is getting better. Businesses are starting to ask the right questions, and folks like The Altimeter Group and Chris Brogan are putting the mindset out there that tying your product to real-world business objective actually matter.

The tides will turn again Dave, you have seen it before and you will see it again, hopefully sooner than later.

Erik
http://ErikBoles.com
http://twitter.com/ErikBoles

Jonathan Drake

I contend that a traditional Internet Business should, and those who are smart already are, look to what is currently working. What is working and has been directly responsible is a technique perfected by a marketing legend in his basement...literally. His name is Jeff Walker and he teaches how to use social proof, emotional triggers (hot buttons), scarcity, anticipation as well as several other areas of the human psyche. It is called a Product Launch and as an example this product
www.TheMagicBullet.com (not an affiliate link) is going to sell over $2 MILLION worth in less than 24 hours. While that may seem insane know that while it is not commonplace they have attracted over 100k opt-ins to learn more. This is done using these techniques and the use of affiliates to help drive sales. It literally kills me when I see companies use the traditional marketing to promote a new version or a brand new product. I am working with a company that when I told them I could bring over 10k people to the site on opening day they shied away because of concerns of bugs and other technical problems. Anyway thanks for the post and being the canary in the mine.
Cheers,
Jonathan Drake
www.MrProductLaunch.com

(full disclosure: I am a Platinum Product Launch Manager trained by Jeff Walker personally. I credit him for helping me to not only see the light but bring that same understanding to businesses around the world.)

Crystal Beasley

The contrary view would be that offerings that depend on executing a complex interface well are doomed to failure. Twitter effectively outsourced their design by having others build the clients. Aardvark totally sidestepped it with their IM interface.

I don't completely subscribe to this view however. I do think there are startups for which design is not core to their success. However, for most new companies, good design and interface is increasingly becoming standard. If you can't come up to the bar, you will be immediately dismissed by both the user and tech press.

Design gets put on the back burner so often because marketers and designers aren't usually the ones building startups. The programmer who is coding in his living room just doesn't have the cash to bring in even one designer, much less the team of UX/product management/marketing.

The most interesting question to me is which is going to get commodified? Will there be enough open source widgets and plugins to make it possible to design a product without ever hiring a coder? Will designers like me, that have a dash of code savvy, be able to stick together off-the-shelf parts and make a real offering? What would an internet led by those crazy creatives look like?

Or will design patterns get so well defined that interfaces are simple drop in? Or perhaps only the next twitters and aardvarks will make any real money.

My bet's on design. ;)

Danolsen

Amen, Brother! (good to have you back!)

I totally agree that the bucket you're labeling "design" is definitely critical to product success. I think there are 4 distinct skill sets in that bucket: product management, user interface (UI) design, visual design, and usability testing. I believe all 4 are required to achieve product excellence. Not that you necessarily need a person working in each area; a person can have more than one of these skill sets.

Product Management: Ensures the team builds "the right product". Able to elicit and understand user needs/pain points, able to analyze competition and come up with a product vision that meets the users needs and is better & different than existing alternatives, able to coordinate product work across the other functions/roles, including engineering.

UI Design: Ensures the team builds "an easy to use product". Able to design optimal layout of website and pages (information architecture). Able to create easy to use navigation and user flows (interaction design).

Visual Design: Ensures the team builds "an aeshetically pleasing product". Able to design the product to have a cohesive, pleasant look & feel, using graphical design to achieve a style that reinforces the brand/product.

Usability Testing: Validates whether or not users agree that the product is good, easy to use, and aesthetically pleasing. Excellent at soliciting user feedback, listening to users, able to synthesize user feedback into actionable items for the team.

The talks I've given on product management go into more detail on these topics.

I've also tried to apply all those concepts at my real-time discovery engine startup YourVersion.

Since founding YourVersion, I've been heavily focused on coding & "design", but we are now focusing more on the second area you mention: marketing. I agree that online marketing skills are critical. An online marketing Jedi would have quite a broad, diverse set of both "creative" and "quant" skills: good writing skills, marketing savvy ("hustling for conversions" as @danmartell says), social media savvy, metrics, an experimentation/optimization mindset, etc.

Seems like that could be a tall order to fill in one person. I don't doubt that there are people out there like that, but there probably aren't that many of them (at YourVersion, we're looking for someone like that, so please ping me :-) Perhaps a more likely approach is 2 people to cover marketing: a creative marketer paired with a quant marketer.

Thanks again for the great post. Keep fighting the good fight!

Dan Olsen
Founder & CEO, YourVersion

Fred Oliveira

Best post I could have read on a Sunday. Well done as always, Dave.

Entrep_thinking

C'mon, Dave -tell us what you REALLY think... LOL

Like Heath said, don't give up. But it will take a while- the mental models (sctipts, maps, etc.) are indeed very different. It's not as bad as Wittgenstein's argument that different species can never communicate but... we do a lousy job uf understanding the mindsets of "others"

Cognitive neuroscience stuff aside - would you be interested in exploring the two seemingly obvious opportunities here?

1) It would seem there's a serious market for translators! (When I worked for a Wall Street firm they had "squires" whose role was to translate/connect the research nerds, the trading desk and the retail brokers who were pretty much 3 diff species, LOL) I didn't appreciate till, well your post here.

2)If VCs/angels don't get this... maybe WE should start an investment fund that looks for the opportunities that are missed (or screwed up?) by the, um, less aware? Would it be even more powerful at the seed stage?
(Or better at bridge/mezzanine?)

Anyway - thank you for a provocative post on a Sunday AM!
Norris

heath

I can't find a way to say this right, so I'll say it anyhow. Most professionals who work with the visual and structural aspects of products don't have a clue about effective verbal communication. Most professionals who are effective verbal communicators don't have a clue about the visual and structural aspects of products. The disjunct between these modalities is deep, but not unbridgeable. For a bridge to be made, the gap needs to be recognized as being there.

It's my sense that companies that build products that feel good to users have outside-the-box-thinking leaders who recognize the gap and intuitively serve as liaisons between verbal and visual/experiential camps on their teams. Such leaders are a rarity.

Visual and UX brilliance is way undervalued in the marketplace (meaning compensation) and as a critical function of good product design.

The user interface is where consumer meets product, and if it fails, the product fails. But with visual and UX people typically unable to communicate this point insistently and effectively, their products -- the talents and skills used to create good user interfaces -- fail. This is why the undervaluation.

Translators and message amplifiers are needed until both sides -- visual and verbal -- can learn some detailed meanings within each other's communication modalities. Proper valuation of visual and UX work is required before that work gets the respect -- and businesses, and angels to fund their startups -- that it deserves. Undervaluation is why it's hard to find good designers.

I read your post as an attempt to delineate the gap and bridge it. Please don't give up.

Iaax Page

I love assertion 1. I totally liked it.

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