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How To Design Like Google

I spent some time last night with the team from Google Glass doing a design hackathon at their NYC Basecamp in Chelsea Markets. The most interesting part of the event was hearing the Google design team talk about their approach agile design. The process originally came out of Google ventures team which would use it to does it as a 5 day process but it can be shortened to as little as 2 hours. It is based on the design thinking model from IDEO and Stanford’s but the Google Design team has tweaked it over the past few years. The process has 5 steps which are defined below with links to in-depth articles from Google on how to run each step of the process.

1: Understand
Dig into the design problem through research, competitive review, and strategy exercises.
Read about this phase in-depth here.

2: Diverge
Rapidly develop as many solutions as possible.
Read about this phase in-depth here.

3: Decide
Choose the best ideas and hammer out a user story.
Read about this phase in-depth here.

4: Prototype
Build something quick and dirty that can be shown to users.
Read about this phase in-depth here.

5: Validate
Show the prototype to real humans (in other words, people outside your company) and learn what works and what doesn’t work.
Read about this phase in-depth here.

The caution I would put around this process is that you need to  understand that this process works best when you are using it to design a very specific problem. I have found that this type of process really struggles when you try to use it to solve bigger more wide-ranging problems like web site or app design. In that case I recommend going through a process to create a master concept and architecture which will then allow you to use a process like this to solve the smaller problems inside of that vision. If you don’t have that master vision then the results are usually a Frankenstein of solutions that solve a lot of individual problems but create an overall experience that is really disjointed.

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