.@zachklein is one of the best design thinkers in the startup world, and he recently shared his wisdom via FC office hours with our portfolio. Three takeaways:

🪞 Being pretty is too expensive
📏 Define design success in *your* terms
🚫 Great companies say no to good ideas

🪞 Being pretty is too expensive

Polishing a design too early in the process can lead teams to fall in love with work that doesn’t ultimately serve your startup. After you’ve devoted resources to pretty-up a design it’s hard to throw it away in favor of something better.

It’s better to treat designs as disposable by default until they’ve proven their worth, rather than investing in a “Potemkin Village” that looks impressive but has weak results.

📏 Define success in *your* terms

The phrase “design” has become so broad that it’s important to define what success looks like in your organization. Is it flawless visuals? Hyper-optimized UX efficiency? Be sure everyone in your org knows how design is evaluated.

Designers have a reputation for pursuing the aesthetic over the functional, but that’s often a side effect of them being excluded from the decision-making process's strategic aspects. Communication is key to the management of creatives.

🚫 Great companies say no to good ideas

Startups don’t have the resources to “boil the ocean,” and this fact cascades to their design team. In order to make progress, they have to make decisions about what to prioritize.

Often this means ruthlessly culling creative but complex interfaces. They settle for a good enough brand design to preserve focus on the UX elements that will drive progress. Distraction is anathema to the best designers.

This summary doesn’t do justice to the wisdom Zach shared with the founders.

Much of his best advice was uniquely suited to the recipients.

But these were a few gems that felt universal.


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