Reading List: Well-Designed

Product design isn’t only about aesthetics, writes Jon Kolko, director of the Austin Center for Design and vice president of consumer design at Blackboard. Instead, design is a more “comprehensive way of thinking about people and human behavior,” focused on establishing deep engagement with customers by creating products that will enhance their lives.

Consider hospitality industry disruptor Airbnb, the easy-payment app Square and home comfort innovator Nest. These companies focus on delivering “simple products that have a soul… and feel less like manufactured products and more like friends,” Kolko writes. He stresses that there are proven techniques and methods for achieving great design. Kolko intersperses his book with charts and visual representations of ideas that help clarify some of the more complex components.

At times the explanations are dense, but Well-Designed’s unusual perspective is worthy reading for anyone looking to launch a new product or tweak an existing one.

by Jon Kolko

November
Harvard Business Review Press; $28

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