Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making

You may not know Tony Fadell but you know Tony’s work. He only designed the iPod, iPhone, and Nest thermostat. He also wrote a book. Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making is worth reading. Its takeaways apply across many domains, disciplines, and career paths.

Key Takeaways

  • Follow your creativity
  • Embrace the struggle
  • How you handle failure is how you will find success
  • Find a work-life balance
  • Find something that you love doing
  • Understand the differences between data and opinion
  • Tell great stories
  • The best ideas are painkillers, not vitamins

My favorite idea is that when you are developing a project, product, or company, start by writing the press release. The press release should be the story that you want to tell the market and your potential users/customers and include the why. This not only helps you on the external side but it helps you motivate the folks working on the project and those who are supporting the project. The press release will serve as the watermark that you need to reach before you can ship. If your project doesn’t tell that press release story, you need to go back to work.

“If you’re not solving a real problem, you can’t start a revolution.”

Tony Fadell

Storytelling for Product Design

Applying storytelling to product design involves using narrative techniques to create engaging, memorable, and relatable experiences for users. This approach can help make a product more appealing, improve user satisfaction, and foster emotional connections between users and the product.

“Make the user the hero of the story.”

Hans Scharler

Here are some ways to incorporate storytelling into product design:

  1. Establish a clear narrative: Define the story you want to tell through your product, considering the context, the user’s journey, and the desired outcomes. Think about the beginning, middle, and end of the user’s experience with your product, and ensure that each stage contributes to a cohesive narrative.
  2. Understand your users: Develop user personas to represent your target audience, and consider their needs, goals, motivations, and pain points. This will help you create a story that resonates with them and addresses their specific requirements.
  3. Create a relatable and engaging plot: Design your product’s features and interactions to support the narrative, making sure they align with your user’s goals and motivations. Consider using storytelling techniques such as conflict, resolution, and cliffhangers to create tension and keep users engaged.
  4. Use visual storytelling: Use visual elements such as images, icons, colors, and typography to support the narrative and convey the story’s mood and tone. Consistent visual language can help users understand the product’s purpose and guide them through their journey.
  5. Leverage emotional connections: Create emotional touchpoints throughout the user experience by using empathy and addressing users’ emotional needs. This can foster a deeper connection between users and the product, making it more memorable and enjoyable.
  6. Provide a sense of progression: Show users how they progress through the product’s narrative by providing feedback, achievements, or milestones. This can help users feel a sense of accomplishment and motivate them to continue using the product.
  7. Use micro-interactions and animations: Incorporate micro-interactions and animations to enhance the storytelling aspect and make the user experience more enjoyable and engaging.
  8. Iterate and test: Continuously iterate on your product design, incorporating user feedback to refine the storytelling elements and ensure that the narrative remains relevant and engaging.

Lex Fridman Podcast

Okay. It’s almost three hours long. It’s a video of two people sitting. It’s a masterclass on product management. It’s amazing storytelling. I strongly recommend watching Lex Fridman’s interview with Tony Fadell. Lex guides a great conversation, but there is much to extract, process, and apply. I recommend this to my colleagues all of the time. I am recommending it to you now.

Let’s chat about books that inspire us on my Discord server. See you there.

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