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  1. Designers, It’s Time To Go Beyond Esthetics

    Excerpt: In our recent “Transformative Design” Aleph.bet session, we had several speakers share their perspectives and lead working groups on design. Below is a synopsis of a few of the presentations given. Thank you to all who contributed and attended!

    beyond_estheticsFor those still not familiar with Aleph.bet, it is our growth workshop. Every two months or so we hold a session where executives of larger (10M+ users) companies share their experiences and best practices with a select group of those from smaller companies (1M+ users or 500K ARR). Our goal is to build a strong peer network that can help Israeli companies scale effectively by zooming in on various topics (past workshops have included Growth Hacking, Culture, Product Management, IoT, Scale up Engineering and more).  These regular sessions are just one way we hope to bring together and compound the impact of Israeli entrepreneurs helping each other grow into larger and more sustainable companies. As always, give us feedback or let us know if you want to attend the next Aleph.bet by applying here.

    So, about Design… At Aleph, we’re strong believers in the impact and import of design, so we decided to focus an entire Aleph.bet workshop around the topic. We brought together the art directors and designers behind some iconic experiences at Wix, Facebook, Houzz, Any.do, Onavo, Meerkat and more. They shared with us the future of this industry as they see it, how their roles within diverse companies are changing, the dynamic skill sets needed, and held a few open debates. Check out photos from the event in this Album (thanks to Autodesk for sharing your awesome space!).

    For the session, we had the pleasure of hosting Ben Blumenfeld from Designer Fund as our keynote. Ben was a design lead at Facebook for over five years where he helped build products for nearly a billion people and grow Facebook’s world-class design team. During our session, he provided some great actionable insights on how to enable more designers and engineers to successfully tackle a much broader set of problems. You can read more about his session and general insights about his trip to Israel in his latest blog post “Thoughts on Design – Tel Aviv edition”.

    The main takeaway from this Aleph.bet as I see it was that designers should aspire to tackle more. By now, it’s clear to most founders, investors, product managers and (even) engineers that we’re all here to delight consumers. We’re all tasked to build useful, intuitive and beautiful experiences. However, slick interfaces and shiny landing pages are gradually becoming a global commodity, that’s already the case in the Valley and becoming more so in Tel Aviv. That’s why it’s time for designers to get more involved, ask the right business questions, ensure we’re sketching the right drafts, optimize for the right KPIs and attend the right meetings. Design talent is much needed across the board. It’s time to go beyond the esthetics.

    To inspire you down this path, below is a synopsis of the talks given. Let us know if there are any you’d like to see in more detail.

    crowd
    Ran Segall (nuSchool, Any.do, AppFront):

    Full Stack Designers – Designers can provide much more value than just the design of the product by being full stack designers: write great copy, create videos, do marketing, research and basically solve much of the startups problems with their tool box.

    Hagit Kauffman (Wix):
    Designing for a Stranger – How to design a perfect website to someone you have never met. The designer takes on the role of becoming the client, researching his needs and aspirations in order to structure the right brief that will be the fundamentals of the perfect website.

    pixels
    Idit Yaniv (Facebook, Onavo):

    People over Pixels – As designers, we need to constantly ask ourselves how can we create a design process where the*people who use the product* are an organic part of it? Idit shared learnings from her experience working on Facebook’s Safety Check and the Donations campaign for the Nepal earthquake survivors.

    Uri Ar (Loolyan, Houzz):

    The Invisible Aspects of Design – Prediction and assumption. How we as designers try to predict the way our products will be used. Sometime based on data and research, often times on assumptions and knowledge gained through our past experiences. What’s the best way to estimate the cost and benefit of each method in order to choose the right path.

    Dan Greenberg (IronSource):

    Agile Design – In the landscape that we operate as designers, we need to adapt the way we’re thinking and executing design projects to an ongoing, evolving effort that spans iterations over time (just like the Agile development methodology). This is opposed to the traditional design method of sketching stuff up in the studio and choosing a design you think is best. This approach is easier to implement on product/app design, but could be well applied on more “old school” branding and marketing design as well.

    Jakub Swaidek (Meerkat):
    Balancing and Iterating – Balancing style and obviousness can be hard, but they’re not mutually exclusive. They can inspire each other, and elevate. Startups can be the perfect environment to refine both style and obviousness. The iteration process is key as there’s no golden way, or one answer.

    Ben Blumenfeld (Designer Fund):

    “In his post Learning from Twitter to Make Medium, Ev Williams talks about three types of product features: definitional features, improvements, and transformations. To build on that, I spoke at Aleph.Bet and presented 5 case studies of Transformative Design, design that has had a substantial impact on key company metrics.

    benThe feedback has been extremely positive with many designers asking me where they can see a collection of these case studies. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist. We simply don’t have the equivalent of the HBS Case Study repository for the type of product design we want to see more of.

    To help address this, Designer Fund will be sharing some of the examples we’ve collected and we would love to hear from companies and designers who want to contribute to this repository. Let’s share our learnings so we can build better designed products and services”.

    If you’re interested in attending the next Aleph.bet, feel free to apply here.

     
    Illustration by the talented Keren Rosen.

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