A Power Packed Design Driven Meetup: First Designer at Twitter, Product Designer at Facebook and VP of Product at Kickstarter
The Design Driven NYC meetup on May 3rd brought an impressive lineup. The speakers were Vítor Lourenço, Partner at Expa and first designer at Twitter, Bradford Shellhammer, Head of Personalization and Engagement at eBay, Jonathan Smiley, Product Designer at Facebook and Deepa Subramaniam, VP of Product at Kickstarter.
In case you missed it, or if you just want a recap, we’ve summarized key takeaways from some of the talks.
Product Designer at Facebook, Jonathan Smiley on Compromising
The designer’s responsibility is to define and design the product, and they are typically reluctant to any changes to what they have so artfully designed. However, the fact is:
“You don’t have all the answers and there will be compromises you need to make.”
It is difficult to create a product that works for everyone and compromises will usually need to be made in 5 different areas:
While compromising, there will be times when you start to doubt yourself but the solution is for you to be clear about your role. It’s key to figure out when and how to compromise. Over time, you will develop good instincts about what users are looking for and bring key priorities for your environment to the table instead of bringing everything to the table.
VP of Product at Kickstarter, Deepa Subramaniam on Team Dynamics, Testing and Engagement
Though Deepa is currently with Kickstarter, she spoke about her experiences as Director of Product at Hillary for America. Deepa shared with us some tips for building good team dynamics, executing efficient user testing and creating effective engagement.
Partner at Expa and First Designer of Twitter, Vítor Lourenço on Launching Companies
With experience as the first designer of Twitter and a partner at startup studio, Expa, Vítor explained the lessons he learned from launching more than 10 companies at Expa in 3.6 years.
Find something that sucks
Design Driven NYC is a monthly event organized by Firstmark to inspire design enthusiasts through the stories from entrepreneurs and industry leaders in the design community. The organizers believe that “great design is storytelling at its finest, and that it is a critical element to any successful product.”
On 5th April, we attended their 26th Design Driven event held at BuzzFeed’s office. The featured speakers were Alain Sylvain (Founder/CEO of Sylvain Labs), Marcela Sapone (Founder/CEO of Hello Alfred), Luke Chesser (Founder/CPO of Unsplash) and Bonnie Siegler (Founder/CEO of Eight and a Half).
Here’s a recap of what we learned during the engaging exchanges between the presenters and the audience.
Alain Sylvain of Sylvain Labs on User Research
Sylvain Labs, an innovation and brand consultancy, is the brainchild of Alain Sylvain. 7 years ago, he observed that very few companies offered services that catered to both creative and business needs. Inspired to create a company that meets these needs, he started Sylvain Labs and along the way it has helped popular brands such as Nike, Google and Airbnb to launch new products and reinvent their brand positioning through innovative solutions.
"Learn to differentiate the user needs."
When designing a product for users, we have to understand the complexities of a user’s needs. In short, what drives people to do what they do. During his speech, Alain touched on different solutions to make sense of a user’s needs.
Marcela Sapone of Hello Alfred on Design
Hello Alfred is a service that offers on-demand butler services to help you manage your daily chores. Founders, Marcela Sapone and Jess Beck were the first all woman team to win the Techcrunch Disrupt competition with the Hello Alfred concept and have currently raised $12.5 million in funding.
"Life is too short not to design for what you want."
Marcela started her speech with one of her favorite design mantras, “Life is too short not to design for what you want” and this was the quote that inspired her to create Hello Alfred. While going about her daily chores, she wished for someone to help her complete them so she could spend her time on more important tasks. With this idea in mind, she built this service to turn the idea into reality.
"Sometimes you want to increase friction to increase trust."
She believes that when designing for UX of trust, you will need to increase friction to increase trust. Instead of hiring an employee with 1099 form for the role of an Alfred (what the butlers are referred to as), she and her team decided to hire W2 employees. From an employer’s perspective, hiring employees with a 1099 form is usually preferred as they would be able to spend less on staffing since the 1099 form regulations do not require them to cover benefits that a W2 employee would receive.
However, Marcela views that using W2 employees would be necessary in increasing the users’ trust towards the Alfreds since W2 employees are full-time employees as compared to contractual 1099 employees. Even if this decision increases friction, the company still insists on hiring W2 employees and ensures that they are carefully-screened through background checks (identity, criminal and credit), references, and in-person interviews to build trust between the users and the Alfreds.
"Do not be afraid to do things that are difficult to scale."
Hiring practices alone are insufficient in building trust with users. They realized that it was important for the Alfreds to leave personalized notes for the users after every session as well. It is more tedious for the Alfreds to do so, but they discovered that this small action translated into increased mutual trust.
"Be really specific and intentional about what you are designing."
Marcela commented that designing the Alfred application was one of the hardest things she and her team had to do, as Hello Alfred is a category that does not exist. She knew that she needed to build a User Interface that would convey the ability to accomplish multiple things at once, while humanizing the exchange between Alfreds and the users. How does one build an communicative interface for Alfreds and users that could constantly remind the users of the presence of a human being that is constantly doing all of their tasks for them?
As such, her team built a task list with toggle buttons and this was an efficient way for users to manage all their tasks at one go through a familiar interface. A profile image of the Alfred is strategically placed at the top of the application to remind users that a human is completing their tasks for them and an operational tracker is displayed beneath each task. This gives users the ability to see what is happening with all their requests. As the Alfred is out in the field doing things, the tracker stays up to date. Users love watching the progress across their tasks, engaging users with habit-forming designs.
The application also included profile and background stories of Alfreds to minimize the transactional nature of their relationship and create a new relationship of trust. Every design was intentionally created to allow the application to be as transparent and human as possible. Every point of contact with the users on the Hello Alfred application was thoughtfully planned to increase trust between users and their Alfreds.
Luke Chesser of Unsplash on Entrepreneurship
Unsplash is a photo sharing service that features free high-resolution photos which are curated by professional photographers. What started out as a Tumblr page to post excess images available became a photolibrary that has more than 1 billion photos viewed per month.
"It's okay to not have all the answers when you are building your company."
When Luke created Unsplash with his team, they did not know what they were building. He commented that many companies do not have the answers to everything, such as a well defined long term strategy or a monetization plan. Founders have to learn to be comfortable with uncertainty and need to figure out solutions along the way.
"You should start building things, regardless."
Many companies tend to share their stories in a way that only highlights their successes and not their problems. Every idea a person has is going to bring a lot of problems, but despite these complications, they should still work on building their idea. There will be many reasons pulling them back from their ideas but the great thing about designers is that they understand that there will always be solutions. The key takeaway is to be innovative with ideas and solutions, as safe decisions build safe products and mediocre companies.
Through the Design Driven event, we got to learn more about User Research, Design and Entrepreneurship. The founders’ conviction and determination about their companies was truly inspiring. Indeed, it was an evening well spent.
As the saying goes, the only constant in life is change. As with technology, the landscape is constantly evolving too. It is amazing to see the speed at which technology has pushed its boundaries to create new value and transform experiences for both businesses and consumers.
Here’s a look at the top 6 technological trends we have observed to be transforming the way we work and live, along with some use-cases to help convey their applicability. For the entrepreneurs reading this, consider thinking about how you might leverage these technologies to super-charge your business.
Drones are unmanned aerial devices that can fly or move without an onboard human pilot. They can operate autonomously via inbuilt computers and travel on a predetermined flight plan that is controlled remotely or directed manually. The presence of drones can potentially impact a larger segment of the courier industry and support a new phase of digital business. Just Imagine receiving your Amazon delivery at your doorstep via this nifty flying vehicle.
Potential Industries: Precision farming, Cargo delivery, Railway safety, Construction site management
Use Case: Medical Supplies in Rwanda
The government of Rwanda partnered up with Silicon Valley startup, Zipline to deliver medical supplies to 5 of its hospitals. The drones can transport up to 150 deliveries per day and have reduced the duration of a single delivery from 4 hours to 15 mins.
In layman’s terms, Blockchain is a system which functions as a self-auditing network of information. It uses a network of computing nodes to document the value of transactions sequentially in “blocks” across a database that can be shared among multiple parties simultaneously.
Rather than persisting a central system of record, the information is kept public and hosted concurrently by multiple computers, allowing it to be easily accessible and verifiable. This increase in transparency makes the Blockchain system more credible than other similar systems, and reduces business friction as a result. Another way to think of Blockchain is as a shared Google Document for digital transaction records.
Potential Industries: Peer to Peer transactions, Supply chain auditing, Governance, Data management, File storage, Stock trading
Use Case: Host and Guest Integrity on Airbnb
Guests can easily verify a host’s credibility by checking their ID number as representations of people’s online identities are stored on a Blockchain. Unlike Facebook, users cannot delete their accounts and re-register if they receive unfavorable reviews, as records on Blockchain cannot be tampered with.
3. Automation: Robots
Don’t worry, robots are not taking over the world (yet), but a world with robots automating human-exclusive tasks does not seem that far away. Robots are electro-mechanical machines or virtual agents that assist humans with their daily activities autonomously or through a set of instructions set by a computer program. As much as they have the ability to improve productivity, the implication of robots lowering the employment rate is also a cause for concern by some groups.
Potential Industries: Manufacturing, Service industry, Hazardous industries, Hotels and tourism, Automation of predictable tasks
Use case: Automated News in China
A publishing company in China, Southern Metropolis Daily, has published its first robot-written report that summarized the train transportation schedules during the Lunar New Year and advised readers on recommended routes to travel.
IOT (Internet of Things) is a network of internet-connected objects, devices and vehicles that are able to collect and exchange data using embedded sensors. This technology links all our devices together and makes them hum in a veritable technological harmony. As a result, we are able to collect and exchange data seamlessly across devices over the internet, control the devices and monitor them remotely.
Potential Industries: Inventory and material tracking, Real-time asset monitoring, Customer self service, Data integration and analytics, Real-time market insights, Dynamic billing and pricing application
Use Case: Smart Homes by Samsung
Samsung’s SmartThings system helps households automate their in-home devices. It allows users to control lights, locks, plugs, thermostats, cameras and speakers from a centralized location like your phone.
5. Augmented Reality and Virtual reality (AR/VR)
Most people first experienced the wonders of AR through Pokemon Go, which had over 100 million downloads. AR (Augmented Reality) enables blending of the real and virtual world via a graphic and/or audio overlay through a supplemental device. This is not to be confused with VR (Virtual Reality), which is a computer-generated simulation of a 3-dimensional image or a complete surrounding within an enclosed space, usually requiring tools such as a VR helmet or headset.
Both AR and VR create an immersive environment and are transforming the way individuals interact with each other. Although most devices are still in early-stage development, enterprises can anticipate targeted applications of VR and AR in the coming years.
Potential Industries: Immersive journalism, Virtual workplaces, Architecture/construction, education and training, Entertainment, Healthcare, Merchandising
Use Case: Physical to Digital Bridge for Brands by Blippar
Blippar has developed an Augmented Reality platform, pioneering a solution for brands to create augmented digital experiences through a scan of an image or a logo. More recently, it developed a ‘visual browser’ which allows users to scan the real world around them and receive a layer of information about objects and places in their surroundings.
6. AI and machine learning
AI (Artificial Intelligence) is an umbrella concept that is made up of numerous subfields such as machine learning and natural language processing. It encompasses a combination of extensive parallel processing power, massive data sets to feed its software algorithms and advanced systems that can teach themselves to become more intelligent.
By leveraging AI, providers can focus more on advanced analytics, streamline business processes and create more conversational interfaces. Gartner predicts by 2018, the world’s largest 200 companies will be leveraging intelligent apps for their various offerings.
Potential Industries: Managing personal finances, Automated virtual assistance, Real time fraud and risk management, Data analytics and advanced analytics, Customer support, Transactions and helpdesks.
Use case: Intelligent Routing for Uber and Lyft
These ride-sharing applications use machine learning to predict rider demand and arrival times of rides, and optimally plan routes across passengers to minimize detours.
The tech industry is constantly progressing and making predictions about the course of its future is no trivial task. Disruptive technologies and their application can sometimes gain rapid recognition and acceleration, making it a moving target. However it is important to be aware of the state of the industry and attempt to foresee the most likely technologies to be adopted next. This could prove pivotal in helping to catch the wave of the next billion dollar business opportunity.
For someone with limited experience in User Experience (UX) or User Interface (UI) design (yes, they are vastly different), you can get started on UX easily by taking an online UX course - usually the easiest and most affordable way of kickstarting your UX journey. Every course claims to have the best mentors, the highest employment rate for students who have completed the course, the largest amount of resources available for you and thus, it can get confusing when it comes to choosing a course that is most suited to meeting your learning goals.
We understand your pain-points and hence, we have curated 10 online UI/UX courses with all the information you need to know to help make an informed decision when choosing an online UI/UX course. We have also compiled the following list within a UI/UX courses chart for you to make an easier comparison.
Price: $280 for 1 year unlimited access
Hours: 7 hours (90+ videos)
Example of courses: UX Theory - What is UX, Research - Usability Testing, Design - Design Principle
Differentiator: Members-only forum that allows you to share your projects to gain feedbacks
Price: $8 per month, paid yearly (for students)
$13 per month, paid yearly (for professional)
Hours: Between 1 to 7 hours per week
Example of courses: Become a UX designer from scratch, Human-Computer Interaction, The Practical Guide to Usability
Differentiator: Limited participants for each course, free articles and books from authors such as Clayton M. Christensen (He coined the term Disruptive Innovation!)
Price: $299 per course
Hours: 10 hours per week for 4 weeks
Example of courses: UX Research and Strategy, Interaction Design, Prototyping and Testing
Differentiators: Limited participants for each course, Skype session with industry leaders and feedbacks from mentors
Hours: 3 to 4 hours per week
Examples of courses: Evaluating Designs with Users, UX Design from Wireframe to Prototype, User Experience Research and Design
Differentiator: Reviews available for each course
Price: $25 per month (basic plan)
$49 per month (pro plan)
Hours: 30 mins to 17 hours per course
Examples of courses: UX Basics, HTML Email Design, Mockups for Responsive Design
Differentiator: Offers access to UX-related Conference resources
Price: $10 to $195 per course
Hours: 1.5 hours to 23.5 hours per course
Examples of courses: UX & Web Design Master Course: Strategy, Design, Development, Mobile App Design from scratch with Sketch 3, UX Strategy Fundamentals
Differentiator: Offers both full-stack UX courses and specific UX topics courses, reviews available for each course
Hours: 4 to 5 weeks per course
Examples of courses: Interaction Design, Introduction to User Experience Design, User Interface Design
Differentiator: Offers courses from well-known universities such as Georgia Institute of Technology, reviews available for each course
Price: $19.99 per month (basic plan)
$29.99 per month (pro plan)
Hours: 13mins 48 secs - 6 hours 1 min per course
Examples of courses: Planning a career in User Experience, Foundations of UX: Multidevice Design, UX Design Techniques: Creating Personas
Differentiator: Transcripts for video feature
Price: For premium videos
$8 per month (Annual payment)
$12 per month (Monthly payment)
Includes free videos
Hours: 14mins to 12hrs 4mins
Examples of courses: iOS Design I: Getting Started with UX, UX Design Fundamentals: Everything You Need to Know, Intro to UX: Fundamentals of Usability
Differentiator: Members-only forum that allows you to share your projects to gain feedbacks, reviews available for each course
Price: $15 per month
$9 per course
Includes free videos
Hours: 10mins to 5.9 hours
Examples of courses: Fundamentals of UX Design, A/B testing for Web Designers, UX Prototyping for Mobile Devices with InVision
Differentiator: Members-only forum that allows you to share your projects to gain feedbacks
Apart from the online classes, here are some additional reading materials we find useful for UI/UX beginners as well. These are perfect for those who would like to read up on fundamentals of UI/UX in bite-sizes!
A website that provides you with book recommendations to improve your understanding of various UX topics and quizzes to test your UX knowledge.
A UX crash course that splits your learning process into 31 lessons. It is suitable for people who are looking to gain a generic overview of UX topics.
Gain a better understanding of UX through HackDesign’s 50 lessons course. Each lesson features different web articles about specific UX topics, curated by various UX experts.
We love the simplicity of this interactive online lesson. It features a short write up on various UX topics and after 52 weeks, you will get to have a better comprehension of the fundamentals of UX.
Having taken some of these UX courses as part of Perpetual's UX training curriculum, we recommend the courses offered by UX Training and EdX-University of Michigan. Both of these courses not only offers a wide variety of hands-on exercises but are also comprehensive, specific and easy to follow.
Remember, before you embark on your UX journey, it is always advisable to practice with UI/UX tools such as Sketch and InVision to apply what you have learnt.
#TriedandTested – At Perpetual, we like to keep things simple. There will always be discovery of new UX tools but here are the top 10 resources we turn to when it comes to UX design. We hope that they will be as useful for you, as they are for us.
As UX designers, we understand that there are many tasks we need to oversee at once. The UX Checklist is a useful tool to help you check if you have completed all your necessary steps – from competitive analysis to your A/B test plan.
Created by designers, for designers - xScope is a tool that is useful for measuring, inspecting and testing on-screen graphics and layouts. It features a Loupe tool that allows you to quickly measure the size of anything on your window without you having to take a screenshot and transfer it to your preferred software.
Created by InVision, Craft is a suite of plugins that allows us to include real unique content from live websites in our prototypes. Yes, we no longer need to waste time coming up with placeholder content or dummy profile descriptions. #smallvictories
A color palette generator tool that allows you to view different variations of one color. After all, modifying one base color is essentially the fundamental skill of coloring interface designs.
A website filled with UI resources and mobile design kits for anyone in need of some last-minute inspiration.
Font Awesome provides you with scalable vector icons that can be instantly customized by size, color, drop shadow and anything that can be done within the scope of CSS.
A free web design resources page that allows you to browse through multiple illustrator, PSD and Sketch freebies needed for UI, template or plug-in design.
To be a great designer, one must dive deeper into how users think and act. A product that appears easy for us to navigate may not be as easy for users to comprehend. We need to test our products with real users and this is where UserTesting.com comes in, to help you test your products with users from your target market.
The ultimate tool for CSS designers. We like it because it is a reliable and interactive tool that generates CSS codes for gradients, borders, shadows and noise textures.
We subscribe to Nielsen Norman’s newsletter for research-based UX articles and reports. We like it simply because most of their articles are based on extensive data research and user analysis.
Hope you have enjoyed our top 10 favorites. Comment below if you have any other recommendations! We’ll compile them and share with designers in the UX community.
At every stage of our lives, we have dreams of being successful in our own respect and even indulge ourselves in the delusion of being someone else to escape our reality. From dreaming of the day you are Kendrick Lamar spitting bars in front of thousands to replacing your friend who is currently backpacking in Europe, dreaming of wanting to someone else or someone famous is nothing out of the ordinary.
On the flip side, when was the last time you imagined being less fortunate than you are now? Not a few dollars poorer mind you, but completely penniless with no home or family. Imagine yourself as that, as an eight year old Syrian refugee who was separated from her family amidst all the chaos. I bet you have never imagined experiencing the pain of being forever bound to a wheelchair or the struggles of being autistic and experiencing constant stimulation overloads.
There’s nothing wrong with this, if there was a choice between being Kendrick Lamar or a Syrian refugee for a day, most would rather be spitting rhymes. It’s nice to dream and imagine once in awhile, but the fact is that Kendrick Lamar is indeed real and sadly so are thousands of Syrian refugees.
Despite reading various articles and watching documentaries and news reports from time to time, most people turn a blind eye or quickly forget. It’s our emotional empathy that enables others to understand and share feelings of another and with the amount of violence and tragedies arising recently, it’s no wonder it’s at an all time low.
Being empathetic, especially to the ones that are less fortunate can shift your perspective and give you opportunity to learn to think, feel, and act beyond yourself. It’s the factor that makes you want to put yourself in Syrian refugee’s shoes and it’s the factor that makes you want to help. For those that understand the importance of this, they’re trying to help in their own unique ways; one of them using Virtual Reality and 360 Video.
One of the most powerful tools for creating an emotional response is visually. There are filmmakers, engineers and designers now working to create immersive experiences with virtual reality and 360 video to help create these responses. So bring out your Google glass, Samsung VR Gear, Oculus Rift, or HTC Vive, and let’s hop on the emotional roller coaster and live vicariously through a few individuals to experience what they saw, heard, and most importantly, how they felt.
Venture Capital has its pros and cons--raise money and you give part of your company away and depending on the VC, this can often lead to them subjecting your company to scrutiny and outside oversight, not to mention a board seat or two. While these cons are indeed daunting, they give you money to grow your team, build your product, scale up sales and operations and more.
So while it's tempting to accept any money that comes your way, it's important to think heavily about these five concepts first:
1. Does the VC bring domain expertise in your type of business
With this in mind, our team has formulated a list of 100 VC's you can trust. While not each one will be a good fit for your startup, each of these VC's carry a respectable reputation within their industries. With several years of experience each, the number of successful startups they have invested in are staggering, with a combined $250B in funds managed.
Pokemon has long been in the hearts of many children and teenagers through countless renditions, but the one thing that they have all been waiting for was a mobile version. Carrying a Nintendo DS was no longer appropriate for school or college and these once loved DS’s were pushed to the back shelf, replaced by a computer or Xbox.
Despite this Pokemon has been able to remain afloat with constant game releases, TV episodes, trading cards and merchandise. The Pokemon spirit resides in every millennial that played Pokemon as a child and Pokemon Go is a veritable adventure down memory lane.
While most fanatics are more familiar with the traditional layout of Pokemon with a vast map filled with different gyms, Pokemon, and a central storyline, Pokemon Go has similar features with the added experience of Augmented Reality. While the original Pokemon games inserted you into this fantasy world filled with mysterious caves and sprawling fields, Pokemon Go has the ability to take place right where you are: in in your car, your school, your bed, your backyard, and pretty much anywhere on the globe. This app has created endless possibilities for every Pokemon aficionado, old or new, out there.
While there have been many attempts to integrate AR into video games, Pokemon Go effectively brings together an unprecedented experience. Pokemon Go’s AR features can be divided into two aspects: Real time map data and Real world Pokemon catching. Using Google Maps to integrate real world geography within it’s own design and architecture, Pokemon Go distributes objectives around the world for players called PokeStops. These PokeStops, are typically located on famous and noteworthy landmarks around town.
Besides the fact that it is ridiculously fun, here are 11 tangible benefits of playing Pokemon Go.
1. Embrace the Outdoors
Watching the sunrise and realizing it’s been over 2 days since you’ve been outside is a situation most gamers have found themselves in. Lucky for Pokemon Go players, the game can only be played while you’re out and about.
We work with a variety of startups across Product, User Experience, Design, Development, Architecture, QA, Operations and more. We partner with them from the early stages of a founder with an idea to scaling and supporting millions of users. After many years of immersing ourselves in the startup environment, we've got a good idea of the most suitable tools and services to create a successful startup.
Here are some tools across Analytics, Marketing, Billing, Careers, System/Tech and Operations that we have found to be most useful for technology oriented startups i.e startups who have an in-house technology team developing products and services.
Metrics are a key part of any business; a way to keep a check on the health of your product and startup as a whole. The key analytic tools we found helpful to startups are as follows. Note that these do not include broader business analytics metrics since these are more suited for product analytics and performance. (Which in the case of most tech startups is the key metric to track).
Google Analytics: A great way to keep track of general performance of your web and mobile sites in the form of unique visitor numbers and provides traffic sources and paths through your product. While it might not be ideal for individual event tracking, it has gotten great for cross device tracking including native mobile apps. Besides these, it also lets you track the performance of your paid advertising channels, outside of Google Adwords own analytics .
Flurry: An irreplaceable product for mobile event analytics that lets you segment your user analytics and chase down the best user acquisition channels. Startups tend to use this alongside Google Analytics for in-depth mobile app tracking and optimization.
Mixpanel: The best product for real time event tracking and easy for tracking events you really care about. While also letting you set-up paths and goals, Mixpanel is nice for big picture analytics and super easy to use for non-tech savvy stakeholders. Note that usage can become addictive in terms of observing how your product is being used in real-time; save the analysis for when you have data from more clickstreams..
NICE TO HAVES
KissMetrics: If you're doing any kind of A/B testing, Kissmetrics is your go-to option. It provides several options to monitor a variety of tests with a focus on actual users, user cohorts, and user behavior across your product.
App Figures: This lets you track key app metrics including installs and active users and has a nice alert feature to send you periodic emails with this information.
Chartbeat: Nothing quite like seeing a dashboard of your key metrics in one place and in one tab. Chartbeat makes this happen.
CrazyEgg: If you want to know where your users are clicking on your site Crazy Egg is the answer. Equipped with the finest such tracking and several visualization options from heatmaps to ‘click dots’, CrazyEgg is one of the most advanced products in its industry.
Facebook: Ideal channel to target a B2C audience and enables phenomenal reach with limited cost. Has the ability to heavily target by demographic and if integrated, we recommend making use of pages specific to your business.
Twitter: Ideal for B2B and B2B engagement, a must for any startup.
Instagram: Suitable if your business has something visual to portray e.g product shots. Mostly used if your business is related to travel, events, or you conduct business at a venue your customers visit e.g a restaurant or a store.
Hootsuite: Lets you post and track performance across multiple social channels including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more. An invaluable timesaver and among other such tools we’ve evaluated, Hootsuite is the best place to start.
Vimeo: Great for promotional videos you want to embed on your website or blog. It provides a nice clean white-labeled player and lets you customize the theme.
YouTube: Great place to put up video content and have it be discovered organically and shared directly on Youtube and other social channels.
Disqus: If you have a blog or a comments section on your website, Disqus is a great solution to use. With their user count already in astounding numbers, it can be used to pull in other relevant content.
Yelp (Business Owner): Highly recommended to set up an account if you are a local business and local discovery is important to you.
Google AdWords: This is the Go-To tool for online paid advertising since the majority of internet users use and absorb content through Google. If you are looking to enter the world of paid online advertising, Google Adwords is the place to start.
Wordpress: If you're looking for a platform to start a great blog, look no further because Wordpress is the Go-To Solution. Easy to use with several pre-existing themes and templates, as well as several plugins for things like SEO, visual elements, payments and more.
Survey Monkey: Among the various survey tools out there, Survey Monkey is a great tool to run periodic surveys with your users and prospective users. A close second is Survey Gizmo, followed by Google Forms if you like to keep things simple.
Shutterstock: We all need stock images once in awhile, Shutterstock being one of the best places to go for this. With high quality shots and reasonable prices, this company certainly has every type of picture you need.
Mailchimp: Among email marketing tools out there, this is the most popular and recommended email marketing tool. With well rounded sets of features in all respects, Mailchimp is designed to be user-friendly and is a great tool to start your email marketing adventures with.
Hasoffers: A great way to offer your product or service to several affiliate marketers and networks. In other words, let other networks market for you, grow your audience, and create new revenue opportunities. You should only consider this if you were looking to distribute your services via affiliate marketing.
123rf: A good source of royalty-free images as well as non standard stock photography.
If you are collecting any kind of money directly online from your users, then you need a variety of billing solutions besides your main bank of course.
First Data: The de-facto Payment Processor, with several settlement options and competitive rates.
Paypal: A service that enables you to pay, send money, and accept payments. If you plan to collect money via Paypal, you will need their business account.
Braintree: Among modern credit card gateways out there, (eg Stripe, Braintree etc) we find Braintree to be the most user-friendly and competitive. They also provide end to end solutions from payment gateways to payment processors. They recently have become the only solution to support all types of payments including Paypal via one solution, which makes it a clear winner above the rest.
Freshbooks: Collecting and tracking invoices? Freshbooks is ideal.
If you need something shipped, these two top-of-the-line delivery services provide fast and easy
transportation. Sorry if we sound like Captain Obvious here.
Freshdirect: A New York City specific company that delivers fresh groceries right to your doorstep. If your startup is in New York and you like to keep a stocked fridge with fresh food for your employees, look no further.
Seamless: Working late or don’t want to step outside in horrendous weather? Seamless is an online food ordering service that brings lunch right to your doorstep.
Bluebottle: We and many startups we work with are not huge fans of some of the standard corporate office choices. Instead, we prefer drip coffee, specifically of the Single Source variety. The best choice for this in our opinion is Blue Bottle Coffee.
CDC Coffee: Refreshment distribution company. Recommended brews: Flavia/Alterra
Starbucks: An American coffee company and coffeehouse chain.
BestBuy: An all encompassing electronics store that has just about everything a startup could need. Helps to get an account with the to avail of various discounts and points for your miscellaneous electronics.
Amazon Store: If you don’t want to get up from your chair to buy supplies or pretty much anything your office needs, Amazon store is the answer. They have occasional deals like Amazon Prime day which will help further prove your frugal characteristics to your investors.
Staples: In regards to bulk office supplies, Staples provides a huge variety in every category that any office could possibly need.
Quill: For competitive prices and a New York native office supply solution, try this supply store.
Looksharp: A job search site specifically for the intern level where you can find your ideal internship from their large database.
Indeed: Indeed provides millions of jobs to searches around the world, and lets you easily list job postings and find suitable talent
Standing for Simple Storage System, Amazon S3 provides developers and IT teams with secure, durable, and highly-scalable cloud storage; great for every startup.
Apple has long since been a provider for phones and other technical mediums for years. Whether it be a new iPhone or iMac, Apple products have been the standard for tech companies due to the low learning curves and myriad of exclusive programs available. Also critical to have an account here if you're developing an iPhone or iPad application.
Adobe Creative Cloud
A must-have for every designer out there, the Adobe Creative Cloud contains essential design programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator and Premiere that have been used in countless creative products that constantly shifts the design world we know today.
This service exists to enable developers to build and run applications entirely in the cloud with easy in-built tools that save you from getting your hands dirty with devops or the like. Some products that Heroku provides out of the box Heroku Platform, Redis, Postgres, and many more.
This one is for all of the engineers developing critical Rail apps out there. This is a logical next jump from Heroku for hosting your Ruby on Rails applications.
GoDaddy is a reliable and affordable no-frills web hosting company. Use it as a one-stop-shop for your domains and simple websites. While it provides affordable Wordpress and PHP hosting options, its in-house website creation templates are not the most aesthetic.
DynDNS (Secondary DNS)
Great alternative to GoDaddy for cheap domains and some flexible options to manage sub domains and certificates.
This tool is key to analyzing exceptions in your code. As soon as any crash, exception or error is detected, an alert with detailed information about the error and suggestions to address the issue is sent to you.
Often considered to be every software engineer’s best friend. As one of the most popular code hosting platforms out there, Github brings people from all over the world to collaborate on millions of projects, and gives your startup a place to host and collaborate on your code securely.
In regards to website monitoring, this platform makes it easy to track the uptime, downtime, and performance of websites.
This platform enables users to manage their projects, collaborate efficiently, and develop better projects. As an agile project management tool, it’s lightweight, easy to use, and our personal favorite for agile software development teams of 6 or less. For bigger teams and projects, JIRA does the trick.
All developers share the same knowledge that fixing bugs and performance issues are never fun to do. This program offers the very solution to that: A performance management solution that enables developers to fix these problems in real time. An equivalent but more cost effective option is DataDog.
If your website or apps are slow due to excess data, this company specializes in making them faster by replicating, purging and provisioning content instantly.
If you need instant user experience testers for your product, UsabilityHub is the place to go. With multiple tests such as the Five Second Test or Questions Test, UsabilityHub captures design feedback quickly and easily with these.
This proxy is really great for web developers who need to watch and manipulate network traffic for their AJAX applications. This free proxy provides a multitude of services including capturing performance data, manipulating browser behavior and traffic, simulating network traffic latency, and many more.
This program enables developers to test their website across various browsers on different operating systems and mobile devices without requiring users to install virtual machines, devices, or emulators; often the cause of a huge headache.
If you’re sending emails to hundreds or more, it can often get pretty overwhelming. This service is the one platform that your email desperately needs. Providing services like transactional delivery and email marketing campaign assistance, Sengrid provides world-class technology and personal attention from their experts.
Assuming your startup is using Rails, this is a useful tool. Railscast is designed for intermediate rail learners (although you can still get something out of it if you’re a beginner or expert) and is a website hosting various videos on tips and tricks to learning Rails as a developer. The screencasts are short and sweet specifically focusing on one technique so you can quickly move on to applying it to your own project. The Pro option to this contains more screencasts each week.
This service is the Ruby community’s gem hosting site where you can instantly publish gems and install them. Easy to interact with and an invaluable tool for all Ruby developers out there. No wonder that an oft-quoted maxim in the RoR world is “There’s a Gem for that”.
Calico Desk: Standing Desks have taken over the startup hub with its change of pace from sitting down for nine hours to being provided a whole array of positions. Our personal favorite is the Calico Designs 51230 Sierra Height Adjustable Desk that can be bought off of Amazon. Why do we love it? It’s the most sturdy, right sized instantly adjustable standing desk at less than $200.
This company provides powerful, scalable systems that increases efficiency and quality. For a software engineer, the services provided here truly are your best friend.
As Apple’s own beta testing software, Test Flight allows developers to test their apps with a group of internal servers. This is an extremely valuable asset to developers since receiving feedback is critical to the design process before uploading to the App Store.
Communication is key for every startup, this cloud communications platform specializing specifically in this. This can include embedding messaging, voice, video, authentication in your apps with simple and powerful API, and other aspects that improve your communications on your platform significantly.
Dropbox: As one of the most popular online file storage systems out there, it enables you to share and collaborate online better than any other file sharing solution. It has high limits on storage at low cost and constantly keeps getting better.
Gmail: A classic email platform that has been on the Internet since 2004, Gmail is a web-based email that provides users 1GB of free storage. When used as part of Google Apps for Work, it performs as a full service email solution eliminating the need for an email server like Microsoft Exchange.
Google Apps For Work: If Google made an all encompassing product that provided every Google app that’s beneficial for businesses, it would be this one. Some of these apps includes Google Hangouts, Documents, Calendar, Forms, and many more, again eliminating the need for your business to maintain infrastructure to support these tools.
Microsoft Office Business Account: A true classic when it comes to online business products especially in the enterprise B2B world if you’re working with corporate clients. Sometimes Google Apps won’t load those crazy Excel macros.
Jive: As a large scale Cloud-based phone service, Jive works best for business-grade companies who want reliable, powerful, and economical hosted communication service.
Hipchat: If you’re looking for a group and video chat that works well for teams, Hipchat is definitely your fix. Designed to liberate working individuals from their desks, this system provides a variety of goodies such as video calling, screen and file sharing, and the security that every company craves.
GoToMyPc: If your employees need to work remotely, this tool enables easy remote access to your work computer anywhere and anytime.
Mapbox: Mapbox is an open source mapping platform that lets you create beautiful custom designed maps. It's a provider of maps for several huge companies such as Foursquare, Pinterest, Evernote, and the Financial Times. We love the visual options it has over Google maps but is not ideal cost-wise if you have massive volumes.
Olark: Armed with incredible features including the knowledge of who’s visiting your website and where they’re looking, Olark is one of the most advanced and yet easy-to-use live chat systems available. A good way to get instant engagement with your site visitors.
Salesforce: The leading CRM platform that employees can access entirely over the Internet and truly prioritizes the customer by putting them at the center of everything that you do. Great benefits of using Salesforce include improvement in these areas: Sales, Customer Service, Marketing, Community, Analytics, Apps, and the IoT Cloud. For lighter alternatives, we recommend Pipedrive, Highrise and Base CRM.
Better Business Burea: You’ll need an account here if your startup is related to a traditional business that is tracked by the BBB. Hopefully you start and stay with that A+ rating.
Behance: As the leading online creative platform, Behance is great for discovering hidden and raw talent. Use it to seek inspiration or find that visual designer your startup needs. Note that it’s known to have outlandish/experimental designs compared to the more level dribbble.
MyFax: Fax machines have since gone and left with this new tool that let’s you send and receive faxes through multiple mediums such as phone, email, or the web.
Vistaprint: If you’re looking for customized and personally designed marketing material for your business, Vistaprint is a great solution. This company provides 100% customization in an array products such as business cards, posters, signs, stationery, and many more. The best part is when you sign up with them they send you a free pack of swag including a T-Shirt with your branding on it.
Vonage: Provides quality phone service for home, small business, and business phone systems. This is a good option if you plan to do a lot of international calling.
Trello: This platform enables you to visually collaborate with teammates on boards and other aspects of the creative process. This is an especially powerful product for designers since communicating visually is very effective and also provides a light way to get organized about any kind of project.
Slack: This is undoubtedly the tool of choice for office collaboration, replacing email, IM and file sharing tools.
Spotify: One of the top music streaming platforms available, Spotify enables free access to millions of songs all on the tips of your fingers. Getting a company account can help if you like to play music in common areas. We found that many development teams at startups like to have this benefit.
Design Driven hosted their 19th event at the United Nations HQ and attracted almost a thousand attendees. It was a fitting venue for some stellar speakers who also raised some noteworthy attention:
A fireside chat with Jeffrey Zeldman and Jen Simmons rounded off the wonderful event and we’re thankful to FirstMark for hosting it.
Amber Cartwright kicked it off with a talk on ‘Co-Designing with Machines’. Amber is a Design Manager at Airbnb where she oversees several teams evolving the company’s two-sided marketplace experiences. She has been a designer for over fifteen years, working across several mediums including interactive exhibit design, design agency consulting and video editing in New York, Portland and San Francisco. She has created designs and user experience strategies for companies like Loblaws, Google, Target, American Express and GE Capital. Her passion in product design are finding what inspires and motivates people, then reflecting that back into products that have meaningful impact on their lives.
Amber discussed the overarching relationship between machinery and design. Both entities in this day and age are constantly changing, and figuring out the dynamics towards integrating them both is something every designer struggles with. However, while Design and Machine work couldn’t contrast more, it’s their unique relationship that brings about great products. She talked about mathematical algorithms and described how everything, not just machinery, requires it.
Her presentation consisted of multiple modern ways design and machinery have learned to coexist including Machine Learning, Augmented Reality (AR), Quality Assurance (QA), The Design/Data Language System (DLS). She spoke about their application to Airbnb as she provided many physical examples and explained some of Airbnb’s machinery in the background such as SmartPrice, an intelligent solution that allows users to set prices based on demand.
The next speaker was Verena Haller from Equinox Hotels. Verena has long been a major player in the interior design world. She previously had strong interests in architecture and product design but decided to take an interior design role at SOM (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP) as her first career move in New York. Since then, Haller has influenced the hotel design community with her innovative and fresh ideas. Her experience includes a variety of projects at companies like SOM, Ian Schrager Company, and Morgans Hotel Group, and currently is the Senior Vice President of Design at Equinox Hotels. An architectural and interior design background is not the most common among the digital UX/ UI crowd, so her talk brought some fresh perspectives.
Verena explained how design concepts and process are integrated in every type of design. She first covered the overarching history of hotel design and how heightened consideration towards this is something novel and the tracks have yet to be laid out. She discussed her inspirations, something every designer has and drives her particularly, and she tied them with a specific analogy to skiing. As an avid skier, she described her passion for design as an adrenaline rush, flowing and relentless. After coming down the ski slope, this exhilaration quickly turns into disappointment, as you want nothing more than to go down it again.
This analogy is a key example of the type of experience Haller seeks for her clients; the urge to come back for more. It was exciting to see how her inspiration has propagated through to her work, and manifests itself in her hotel designs.
Verena also discussed how many hotels today are found to be overwhelming in terms of design, so she bases a large portion of her design on creating a space where visitors can embrace and prosper in a minimalist and comfortable environment.
The next speaker was Braden Kowitz, a designer, storyteller, and self-proclaimed product development geek. He is a Design Partner at Google Ventures where he founded the team's Design Studio. He also advises startups on UX Design and Product Development. Before joining Google Ventures, Braden led design for several Google Products, including Gmail, Google Buzz, Google Apps for Business, Google Spreadsheets, OpenSocial, and Google Trends.
Braden’s talk revolved around Design Culture and what’s it’s like to start and be in one. He divided his talk into three main cultural values: