'Design thinking' isn't about making things look pretty [Technical.ly Podcast] - Technical.ly Brooklyn

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Mar. 13, 2015 3:22 pm

‘Design thinking’ isn’t about making things look pretty [Technical.ly Podcast]

In this month's Technical.ly Podcast, we discuss the growing popularity of a more people-centric approach to product creation.

Jason Tiernan, cofounder of Honey, speaking at Huge.

(Photo courtesy of Huge)

Looking back on his now scuttled startup, Qhojo, Manish Sinha sat down and spelled out his mistakes with launching the company. The first mistake on his list: not talking to his potential users about what they really needed.

That’s design thinking. Most technologists are trapped in the idea that design is about making things look pretty, but it really isn’t, as Cameron Koczon drummed home recently at Huge. Aesthetics are an important component of user experience. You want your users to like looking at your product, after all. Really, though, it’s about thinking about your users needs, solving problems.

Architects have understood this for a long time. They know how to make a building look open and welcoming or daunting and closed, depending on its purpose.

Now, Sinha gets it, too. He’s our neighbor in the DUMBO Startup Lab, and he’s taken this new way of thinking into the life of a freelance developer, finding that a big part of his job his helping clients figure out what they really need to build. He wrote a new post on GitHub about that work and it recently blew up on Hacker News.

This human-centered way of thinking is rapidly moving out into the broader business world. Natalie Nixon, who runs an MBA program at Philadelphia University, sat down with Technical.ly’s Zack Seward to talk about how she’s bringing design methodology to her students. Then the podcast turns to a talk about design thinking here in Brooklyn, which touches on companies like BioLite, MakerBot and the product problem faced by New York coffee shops.

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