Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots

512 - Unboxing thoughtbot's Revolutionary Design Sprint Kit

February 15th, 2024

In this episode of the Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots podcast, hosts Will Larry and Victoria Guido discuss the intricacies of product design with thoughtbot's Senior Designers, Rami Taibah and Ferdia Kenny. They delve into the newly launched Product Design Sprint Kit by thoughtbot, which is designed to streamline and enhance product development.

Ferdia and Rami explain how the kit aims to compress the design process into a focused five-day sprint, allowing teams to move from idea to user-tested prototype efficiently. They discuss the genesis of the kit, its components, and the rationale behind making it openly available.

Towards the end of the episode, the conversation shifts towards the broader implications of design in product development, the iterative nature of design sprints, and the value of user feedback in guiding product decisions. Rami and Ferdia share real-world examples where product design sprints led to significant pivots or refinements in product strategy, emphasizing the critical role of user testing in uncovering genuine user needs versus presumed functionalities.

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WILL:  This is the Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host, Will Larry.

VICTORIA: And I'm your co-host, Victoria Guido. And with us today are Rami Taibah, Senior Designer at thoughtbot, and Ferdia Kenny, Senior Designer at thoughtbot, here to talk to us about the newly released Product Design Sprint Kit from thoughtbot. Ferdia and Rami, thank you for joining us. Why don't you introduce yourselves a little bit, tell us a little bit about each of your background while we get started?

FERDIA: I'm Ferdia. I'm a product designer at thoughtbot. I've been with the company for nearly three years now. I'm based in Dublin in Ireland, but I'm from the West Coast of Ireland. Happy to be on the podcast. It's my first time coming on, so that'll be a new experience.

RAMI: Yeah, so I'm Rami Taibah, and I am also a senior designer at thoughtbot for nearly two years. I'm also from the West Coast, like Ferdia, but I didn't move. I'm still where I'm from [laughs].

VICTORIA: Yeah, so just to get us warmed up here, why don't you tell us something interesting going on in your lives outside of work you want to share with the group?

FERDIA: For me, I'm trying to do a bit of traveling at the moment. So, one of the benefits, obviously, of working with thoughtbot is that we are a fully remote company. As long as we're kind of staying roughly within our time zones, we can kind of travel around a little bit. So, I'm actually in France at the moment and going to Spain in March. So yeah, I'll be working from a couple of different spots, which is really cool and a lot of fun.

RAMI: Yeah, it's pretty cool. I always see Ferdia, like, having these meetings in, like, these different locations. Just a few months ago, you were in Italy, right?

FERDIA: Yeah. Yeah [laughs], that's right, yeah.

RAMI: Yeah. So, for me, well, first of all, I got a new baby, new baby girl, exactly on New Year's Day, so that's interesting, going back home every day and seeing how they evolve very quickly at this age. Another thing is I've been doing a lot of Olympic weightlifting. It's probably one of the consistent things in my life since COVID. I was a CrossFitter. I got out of that, thankfully. But coming back into, like, after quarantine, weightlifting seemed like a good choice because it doesn't have the social aspect of CrossFit, and I can just do it on my own.

WILL: How is your sleep?

RAMI: I'm a heavy sleeper, and I feel guilty about it, so no problems here [laughs].

WILL: Yeah, that was one thing I'm still trying to recover from–sleep. I love my sleep. And so, I know some people can do with little sleep, but I like sleep. And so, I'm just now recovering, and we're almost two years since my baby boy, so [chuckles]...

RAMI: Yeah, I'm a heavy sleeper. And I tell my wife, like, we have this understanding, like, if you ever need anything from me besides...because she has to be up for, like, breastfeeding, just kick me. I'll wake up. I'll do whatever you need [laughs].

WILL: That's awesome.

VICTORIA: So, my understanding is that if you want to get better at any sport, if you get better at deadlifting, that will help you progress in your sport pretty much. That's my [laughs] understanding. I don't know if you all feel that way as well.

RAMI: Oh, I never heard that. But I do know that these three, like, three or four basic lifts just basically boosts you in everything else, like, deadlifts, back squats. And what was the third one? Bench press, I guess.

FERDIA: And pull-ups as well, I think, is a compound exercise. I just hate like this. I look for an excuse to skip them, so...[chuckles]

VICTORIA: Yeah, the four essential exercises, but it doesn't mean that they're fun, right?

FERDIA: [chuckles]

VICTORIA: Yeah. And then, Will, I heard you were also training for a new activity, the 5k.

WILL: Yeah, I'm going to run a 5k with my best friend. He's coming into town. So, I'm excited about it. I've always tried to do running, but my form was horrible, and I'll get injured, tried to do too much. And I think I finally figured it out, taking it slow, stretching, making sure my form is correct. So, it's been good. I've enjoyed it. And it's interesting looking at what I'm doing now versus when I first started. And I was like, whoa, like, when I first started, I couldn't even run a mile, and I'd be out of breath and dying and just like, ah, and then now it's like, oh, okay, now I'm recovered, and I can walk it off.

So, one thing it's taught me is just consistent, being consistent because I feel like with working out and running, you have this, like, two-week period that it's just hard. Everything hurts. Your body is aching. But then after that, your body is like, okay, you're serious. Okay, then, like, I can adjust and do that. And then once you get over that two weeks, it's like, oh, okay, like, still, like, sometimes I still push it and get sore, but for the most part, my body is like, okay, I get it. Let's do this.

And then now, compared to before, now I'm just like, I can't stop because I don't want to go back through that two weeks of pain that I started at, at the very beginning. So, yeah, it's been a very good journey. I don't know how far I'm going to go with it. I don't know if I'm going to go a full marathon or a half marathon. I will increase it and do multiple races, but yeah, I don't know how far I'm going to go with it.

VICTORIA: Well, it's interesting. It reminds me how, like, anytime you do something new, you're forming new neural pathways in your brain, then you can get in a routine, and it becomes easier and easier every time you do it. So, I'm going to try to relate this back to our Product Design Sprint Kit. It's like a set of exercises you can learn how to do that might be difficult at first, but then it becomes a part of the way that you work and how you build products, right? So, why don't you tell me a little bit about it? Like, what is it? What is the product design kit that you just came out with?

FERDIA: The PDS kit or the Product Design Sprint Kit it was something that I'd kind of been playing around with in investment time for a while, and then spoke to Rami about it a couple of months ago, and he got on board. And it really accelerated what we were doing. And it was basically, like, a product design sprint is a known process in design and product design and product development. I think it was started by Google.

And, essentially, the concept is that you can take an idea that you have for something new and, in five days, go from that idea to creating something that can be user tested, and so getting real kind of validated feedback on your idea. Yeah, so try to do it in a compressed timeframe. That's why it's called a sprint. So, you're trying to do it within five days.

And the concept for kind of creating a kit that we could share to people beyond thoughtbot was that we tend to repeat a lot of the same instructions in each sprint, so we're running very similar exercises. The outcomes are slightly different, obviously, depending on the customer, but the exercises themselves are pretty similar. So, the [inaudible 06:42] kind of when we're talking to the customer are often very much the same.

And we just thought that we get a lot of inquiries from start-ups, I think probably maybe even more so in Europe, before they're funded and looking kind of for the first step. Like, what can they do? So, a lot of them, if they're not in a position to, say, pay for some of our design team to come on with them and run a sprint with them, we thought it'd be cool to be able to give them, well, you know, this is something free that you can run yourself with your team and will kind of get you on the ladder. It will hopefully give you something that you can then take to an investor or somebody that could potentially fund a kind of bigger sprint or maybe even an MVP build.

WILL: Let me ask you this: Why is design so important? So, if I'm a developer, or a CTO, or a CEO of whatever, why should I be an advocate for design?

RAMI: Well, over here at thoughtbot, we do a lot of iterative design. I think that's a key factor that we should take into consideration. With iterative design, it's the idea of designing something based on a validation or based on a user and doing it quickly and testing it to get feedback from the user or from the market and adjust from there, instead of just designing something in, like, a silo and releasing it after six months and then discovering that you went off course four months ago. And that will cost you a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of agony, I guess [laughs]. And it just generally will become a very frustrating process.

I've seen clients before thoughtbot where they come in and they've been working on this thing for six months, and they're just not releasing and pushing the release for month on month just because the CEO does not feel like it's at par with what he's using on, like, everyday apps. And he's, like, looking at, oh, I want to look like Instagram, or feel like Instagram, or feel like whatever they like when, in reality, products don't evolve that way.

And Instagram has already, I don't know, 12 years of development and design behind it. And you can't possibly expect your app that you're launching for your startup to feel the same, look the same, and all that stuff. That's why design is important. So, you just discover early on that you are on the right path and always correcting course with different design techniques, including the PDS.

FERDIA: What you're talking about there just de-risks a lot of stuff for people when they're trying to create something new. You could have the, you know, a really, really impressive product under the hood that can do a lot of really technical stuff. But if it's very hard to use, or if it's very hard to kind of tap into that magic that you've built on the development side, people just won't use it, and you won't be able to generate the revenue you want. So yeah, the user experience and kind of the design around that is really important to get people actually using your product.

VICTORIA: Yeah, I can relate to what you all have said. I've talked with founders before, who they maybe have a lot of experience in the industry and the problem that they are trying to solve. They think I know what it should look like. I just need developers to build it. But the activities you described about the product design sprint and creating something where you can go out and test that theory, and then incorporate that feedback into your product, and doing it within five days, it seems like a really powerful tool to be able to get you on the right path and avoid hundreds of thousands of dollars of development spend, right?

FERDIA: Yeah, 100%, yeah. And, like, a typical outcome for a product design sprint will never be a fully polished, like, perfect design. That's's not realistic. But what you will hopefully have by the end of that five days is you will know, okay, these are, like, five or six things that we're doing right, and these are things we should keep going with. And maybe here are three or four things that we thought users would like, or potential customers would like, and we are actually wrong about those. So, we need to change those things and maybe focus on something else.

So, as Rami said, design is an iterative process that is like your first iteration. But getting that feedback is so helpful because, as Rami said, if you spend six months developing something and figure out that 4 of the ten things that you built weren't needed or were wrong, or customers just didn't want them, that's a really, really expensive exercise. So, a design sprint, kind of if you're to do them on a continuous basis or every couple of months, can be a really helpful way to check in with users to make sure what you're committing your resources to is actually going to benefit them in the long run.

RAMI: Yeah. And I would also like to add, like, one of the outputs of a design sprint is a prototype. To me, I'm always like, seeing is believing. It's just better to have a prototype as a communication tool within the team with clients, with customers, with users, instead of having, like, a document or even just wireframes. It just doesn't really deliver what you're trying to do, like a prototype.

FERDIA: Yeah, 100%, Rami. And, like, on the prototype, like, a good comparison that people, if they're not in product development, might have seen it's like if you're building a house, like yourself, Victoria, a lot of architects will give you two-dimensional plans. And for people that aren't in the building industry, plans can be difficult to read or difficult to visualize what those actually look like.

But if you can give someone a 3D representation of the house, you know, they can see, oh yeah, this is what it's going to kind of look like and what it's going to feel like. And the prototype that Rami is talking about gives you exactly that. So, it's not just this is our idea; it's, this is actually what the thing could look like, and what do you think of that? So yeah, it's definitely a valuable output.

VICTORIA: We're having this debate about whether or not we need a designer for our renovation project. And I'm very much pro [laughs] designer. And maybe that's from my background and being in software development and, like, let's get an expert in here, and they will help us figure it out [laughs], and then we'll make less mistakes and less expensive mistakes going forward. So, I think there's a lot of analogies there.

So, this product design sprint is a service that we offer at thoughtbot as well, right? We do workshops and meetings together with the client, and you all have this idea to record the videos and put all the content out there for free. So, I'm curious how that conversation went within management at thoughtbot and how did the idea really get started and get some traction going.

FERDIA: The benefit of the Product Design Sprint Kit what you get out of it won't replace, say, doing a product design sprint with thoughtbot because you will have expert product designers or developers in the room with you to kind of share their ideas and their experience. So, the output you're going to get from running a sprint with thoughtbot will be more beneficial, definitely.

But what we were trying to, I suppose, cater for was people that fall in the gap, that they're not quite ready to bring thoughtbot on board, or they don't have enough funding to bring thoughtbot on board to do a product design sprint, or a longer discovery sprint, or something like that. But we want to be able to give those people in kind of the software community something actionable that they can actually take and use.

So, the first three days, I think, of the Product Design Sprint Kit will be really, really valuable to people. It'll really help them identify the problem that they're trying to solve and then to come up with a lot of different solutions and to try to pick one of those. And probably where it's going to be a bit more challenging if you don't have experience in design or in development will be around the prototype, which Rami had spoken about. You can kind of do some offline things, and there are ways to test things without, say, a high-fidelity prototype, but those high-fidelity prototypes, again, are something that could be helpful.

But thoughtbot has always had an approach of kind of giving stuff for free to the community, either open source or just letting people, yeah, letting people learn from our resources and from what we know. And so, yeah, this is just a way to, hopefully, cater to people that we currently can't work with for a variety of reasons but that this is something that they could maybe use in the meantime.


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WILL: So, can you break said it's five days. Can you break down what is walking you through, like, each day? And, like, what experience do I have? Because I know, I've tried to get in Figma sometimes, and it's not easy. It's a pain at times. You're trying to maneuver and stuff like that. So, what do I have to do? Like, do you show me how Figma? Do you give me a template with Figma? Like, how do you help me with those things? And I know Miro and those things. So, like, walk me through each step of the sprint.

RAMI: Yeah, well, I mean, Figma and Miro are just tools that just became popular, I guess, after COVID. Design sprints used to be physical, in the same room as sprints. You would get the clients or the stakeholders in a room and do all that stuff. But Figma, FigJam, and, you know, kind of...I don't know if this was part of their, like, product thinking, but it kind of allowed doing full-on design sprints in their tools.

So, the first step or the first day would be, like, the understanding day where basically we gather information about the product, the users, what's out there, and just come up with a general plan on how to go forward.

And the second day would be divergent where we just look at what's out there and come up with these crazy ideas, kind of, like, a brainstorming thing but in a more inclusive, I guess, way and in a more organized way. So, you don't have people shouting over each other. Like, being anonymous also is important on this day, so nobody really knows what you're doing or saying. It's just ideas to remove bias.

Then, we'd have a converge day where we take all these ideas and consolidate them, which will be an input into the prototype phase.

And the last day is the test phase. I mean, each of these days you can talk...have a full podcast.

VICTORIA: I'm curious about when you're testing and when you're, like, I'll say thoughtbot is a global company, right? And so, there's lots of different types of users and groups that you might be wanting to use your app. I'm thinking, you know, sometimes, in particular, some of the applications I've been looking at are targeting people who maybe they don't have an iPhone. They maybe have lower income or less means and access to get products and services. So, how does your design sprint talk to designing for different types of communities?

FERDIA: I think that's a great question, Victoria. I would say the first thing on it is that we'd often get a lot of people with a startup idea, and they would come in and say, "You know, this app could be used by everybody. So, like, we have kind of no beachhead market or no target market. Like, this would be great for the whole world." That's a very nice thought to have if it is something that could potentially be used by everyone.

But we would generally say you should pick a smaller niche to try to establish yourself in first and hit a home run basically with that niche first, and then kind of grow from there. We would normally say to people as, like, again, this is going back to what Rami said about the iterative process. If at the end of the five days, you've picked the wrong beachhead market and it doesn't hit home with them, that's fine. You can just do another sprint next week or next month on a different kind of subsection of the market.

So, I think picking a fairly niche sector of the market is a good starting point. You then run your product design sprint with that niche in mind and try to talk to five users from that. And, generally, we say five because, generally, if you have less than or fewer than five people contributing, you probably won't get enough data. You know that you could...if you only test with two people, you probably wouldn't get a thorough enough data set. And then, normally, once you go over five, you kind of start seeing the patterns repeating themselves. You get kind of diminishing returns, I guess, after five.

So, that would generally be the approach. Try to identify your beachhead market, the one you want to go into first, and then you will try to talk to five people generally from the founding team's network that match the criteria of that beachhead market. And, in some ways, just the final point, I guess, is the fact that you have to pull them from your network is actually beneficial to kind of make you narrow down and pick a niche market that's accessible to you because you know people in it.

RAMI: And maybe if you don't know anybody, then maybe you're in the wrong industry.

FERDIA: Yeah. Great point. Great point because, yeah, it makes it a lot easier. It's nice to have loads of industries that you could go into, but it makes it so much easier if the founding team have contacts in an industry. Yeah, it makes a big difference.

WILL: Yeah, I was going through the different days and kind of what you were talking about. So, like, one day is brainstorming, then converge, and then prototyping, and user testing kind of on that last day. It seems like it's completely laid out. Like, you're giving away all the keys except experience from the actual designer. It seems like it's all laid out. Was that the goal to, like, really have them fully laid out? Hey, you can do this from point A to point B, and this is what it looks like.

Is that something that you're...because that's what it looks like as my experience with designers and stuff. And if that's the case, what was your reasoning behind that, to give it away? For someone, like you said, like a startup they can do this because you pretty much laid it all out. I'm not a designer, and I don't claim to, but it looks like I can do this from what you laid out.

RAMI: Well, first of all, like, at thoughtbot, we're really big into open source, and open source is not always just development. It can be these kinds of things, right? It's not a trade secret. It's not something we came up with. We maybe evolved it a little bit from Google, I think it was Google Ventures, but we just evolved it.

And, at the end of the day, it's something that anybody can do. But, actually, taking the output from it is something that we do as thoughtbot. Like, okay, you have a prototype. That's great. You tested it, but okay, now we want to make it happen. If you can make it happen, then great, but the reality is that a lot of people can't, and that's why there are, like, a gazillion agencies out there that do these things.

So, the reasoning, I guess, and Ferdia can expand on, is, like, if somebody takes this and comes up with a great prototype and feels confident that they actually want to develop this idea, who else would be better than thoughtbot who actually gave them the keys to everything?

FERDIA: Yeah, 100%, Rami. Yeah, it's essentially just helping people get on the first rung of the product development ladder with fewer barriers to entry, so you don't have to have a couple of thousand dollars saved up to run a sprint. This kind of gives you a really, really low entry point.

And I guess there's another use case for it where you would often have potentially founders or even companies that want to release a new product or feature. And they might reach out to thoughtbot because they want to develop something, and they're very sure that this is what we want to develop. And, you know, maybe they don't want to engage with a product design sprint or something like that if they think they know their market well enough.

And this could be a handy tool just to say to them, "Okay, if you can go away, take this free resource for a week, run a product design sprint with your team, and come back to us and tell us that nothing has changed, you know that you've correctly identified the right market and that you've validated your theories with them," then we can kind of jump into development from there.

But yeah, it can be a good way, I suppose, to show the value of doing a product design sprint. As I said, a lot of people come in, and they have great ideas, and they can be fairly certain that this is going to work. But a product design sprint is really, really valuable to validate those before you dive into building.

VICTORIA: And can you give us an example from your experience of a client who went through a product design sprint and decided to pivot maybe their main idea and go in a different direction?

FERDIA: I'm not sure off the top of my head, Victoria, if I can pick one that pivoted in a completely different direction, but definitely, like, some of the clients that we worked with on the Fusion team in thoughtbot ended up changing direction or changing the customer that they were going after. So, some people might have had an idea in their head of who they wanted to tackle and might have had a particular, say, feature prioritized for that person. And through the product design sprint, we were able to validate that, actually, this feature is not that important. This other feature is more important, and it's more important to a different group than kind of what you initially thought. That would happen fairly regularly on a product design sprint.

Like, I think if you look at the potential outcomes, one being that everything's exactly as you thought it was and you can proceed as planned, or the opposite end of the spectrum where nothing is as you thought it was and, you know, you kind of have to go back to the drawing board, it's very rare that you're on either end of those after a product design sprint. Most of the time, you're somewhere in the middle. You've changed a few things, and you're able to keep a few things, and that's kind of normally where they land. So, I would say nearly every customer that we've done a product design sprint with has changed some things, but never kind of gone back to the drawing board and started from scratch.

RAMI: It's usually prioritization and just understanding what to do and also, like, get into the details of how to do it. That's where the value comes in. But, like, completely pivoting from a food delivery app to, I don't know, NFTs [laughs] never really happened.

VICTORIA: Yeah, and it doesn't have to necessarily be a big pivot but looking for, like, a real-world example, like, maybe you're building an e-commerce site for a plant marketplace or something like that.

RAMI: Yeah. Well, we had a self-help app where they already had the app in the market. It was a progressive web app, and they were really keen on improving this mood tracker feature. But then we did a product design sprint, and they had a bunch of other features, and that exercise kind of reprioritized. And the mood tracker ended up not being released in the first version of the actual mobile app because we were also developing a native app.

VICTORIA: Gotcha. So, they were pretty convinced that this was an important feature that people wanted to track their mood in their app. And then, when they went through and tested it, users were actually like, "There's this other feature that's more important to me."

FERDIA: One example of another client that we did, which was a kind of a wellness app, they wanted it to feel like a friend in your pocket. So, they were looking at ways to integrate with WhatsApp that you'd get notifications via WhatsApp. So, they would kind of be, like, friendly messages to people as if it's your friend, you know, texting you to check in. And that was kind of an idea going into it, and users did not like that at all. Like, they really didn't like that.

So, we ditched that [inaudible 25:49] completely. But, again, that could have been something that they would have spent a long time developing to try to implement, and then to have users say this would have been a very, very costly waste of time. So, we figured that out in a few days, which was a money saver for the team.

VICTORIA: And it must be pretty emotional to have that feedback, right? Like, it's better to get it early on so that you don't invest all the money and time into it. But as a founder, I'm sure you're so passionate about your ideas, and you really think you have the answers from your experience, most likely. So, I'm curious if there's any kind of emotional management you do with clients during this product design sprint.

FERDIA: I think it definitely is. I think people, as I said, often come in with very strong opinions of what they feel will work. And it might even be a product that they specifically want, or they might be one of those potential users. And I actually think, say, engaging an agency like thoughtbot to design something like that, if we felt that they were going down the wrong path, that could be actually quite difficult to do. But because of product design sprints, you are user-testing it. The founders are hearing this feedback from the horse's mouth, so to speak. They're hearing it directly from potential customers. So, it's a lot more black and white.

Now, sometimes, it might still be a case that a founder then doesn't want to proceed with that idea if it's not kind of going to be the way that they wanted it to be, and that's fair enough as well. But the feedback, as I said, it tends not to be that the idea is completely scrapped. It just means that you move a couple of things around. As Rami said, you deprioritize some things and prioritize other things for the first version, and that tends to be the outcome of it.

VICTORIA: Are the users always right, or is it sometimes you can have an idea that persist, despite the early feedback from users?

RAMI: Interesting question. Like, I see the parallels you're doing with the customer is always right, yeah. But the thing is, like, that's just my opinion, I think. We tested with users, and we kind of observe how they react to it and how they use the prototype.

So, it's not like an opinion session or, like, a focus group where they're actually giving...a user can say something and do something else or react in a different way. But yeah, it's a fine line, I think. But I would be really surprised if ten users would agree on something and say something, and their behavior also would reflect that, and we won't pick up on.

VICTORIA: Yes, I like the distinction you're making between what they say and then what the behavior shows, right?

FERDIA: I think something important there as well, like you'll often hear it in design communities, is that you should listen to the feedback from customers but maybe not the solutions that they're proposing. Because, at the end of the day, like, thoughtbot have experts in product design and product development, so we want to figure out from the user's perspective what they want to achieve and maybe what their problems are, but not necessarily take into account or just, I suppose, not necessarily just follow exactly what they say the solution should be.

You're kind of looking for the problems and the things that they're struggling with. You're trying to pick those up rather than just to do the solution that the customer is telling you. And you'll see that in a lot of startups as well that, you know, it's the famous Henry Ford quote about, you know, "If I'd listened to my customers, I'd have designed a faster horse." Sometimes, you need to listen to the problem, and the problem is getting from A to B faster, and then you come up with a solution for that rather than the solution that's been recommended to you.

WILL: I want to pivot a little bit and ask you both, why did you get into design?

FERDIA: I actually did architecture in university, and there were aspects of that I liked. Funnily enough, it's a fairly similar process to designing for software, and then it's an iterative approach. You're given a brief and yet you kind of take a concept forward. But then, when you apply for planning, you have to make changes. And when you kind of put [inaudible 29:41], you make changes. So, you're constantly, I suppose, designing iteratively.

And then I got into startups and was kind of wearing a lot of different hats in that startup sort of world. But the product was the one area that always kind of got me excited. So, you know, if you tried to make a sale with a particular customer and they didn't want to go over something, like, coming home and trying to figure out, okay, how can I fix that problem with the product so that next time when I go to a customer, and they'll say, "Yes"? That was kind of what always gave me the adrenaline.

So yeah, comparatively, between architecture and software, the turnaround times in software is so much faster that I think it's more enjoyable than architecture. You kind of can really see progress. Product design sprint in five days. You can kind of take something a long way whereas designing a building is a bit slower, but it's always kind of been some area of interest. Well, what about you, Rami?

RAMI: Well, I wanted to become a hacker, but I ended up to be a designer [laughs]. No, really, when, like, in middle school, I really wanted to be a hacker and kept looking up what is it. Like, I see it in all these movies really cool, and I wanted to understand, like, how it's done online. And I saw, like, everybody is talking about this weird, little thing called command line. And it turns out, like, all these hacking, quote, unquote, "hacking tutorials" were done on Linux. So, I started looking into Linux and got into Linux.

From there, I started blogging about Linux, and then I just really got into technology. I was in marketing. By then, I was a marketing major. So, that got me into blogging into, like, Linux and open source, which kind of triggered in my head, okay, I need to maybe pivot to a different career path. So, I did a master's degree in information management. Over there, I stumbled into design. The information management school that I was in, like, it was an interdisciplinary school at, like, design, coding, and business all mixed in. So, I stumbled in design there.

VICTORIA: That's how you all got started. And now you've put this product out there pretty recently. I'm curious if you have thought about how you would measure the success of this effort. So, how do you know that what you put out there in the product designs kit is helping people or achieving the goals that you had originally set out to?

FERDIA: Initially, Victoria, we obviously like to see the view counts going up on YouTube, and we're always open to feedback. So, like, at the end of each video and in the resources and stuff, we've got contact us kind of links and stuff. So, if people have feedback on how we could make it better or more useful, that would be really, really welcome. So, do feel free to reach out to us.

And kind of the ultimate success metric for us would be to have somebody come to us in future and say, "Oh, we used that Product Design Sprint Kit that you produced before, and we either got funding or, you know, we got so much value out of it that we'd like to do a full product design sprint or an MVP build, or something like that."

And the equivalent that we would kind of have a lot of in thoughtbot would be, say, gems in development where we would get people reaching out and say, "We use that gem all the time. We know about thoughtbot because of that." That kind of is a way to establish trust with potential customers. So, we're hoping that this is somewhat of an equivalent on the design side.

WILL: Oh, it's been great chatting with both of you about design and what you came up with this. I really like it. I'm going to look more into it.

VICTORIA: Yes. Thank you both for joining us. And I had one question. So, the sprint is the short-term. What would be, like, a product design marathon? Like, what's [chuckles] the big picture for people who are building products? Maybe that's a silly question, but...

RAMI: No, it's not, I mean, but I would guess it's actually building the product and having a successful product in the market and iterate over it for years and years.

VICTORIA: Yeah. So, it's a one-week sprint, and you could do it over and over again for many years just to fine-tune and really make sure that your product is meeting the needs of the people you were hoping to reach. Wonderful.

All right. Well, thank you both so much for joining us.

WILL: You can subscribe to the show and find notes along with a complete transcript for this episode at

If you have questions or comments, email us at You can find me on Twitter @will23larry.

VICTORIA: And you can find me on Twitter @victori_ousg.

This podcast is brought to you by thoughtbot and produced and edited by Mandy Moore.
Thanks for listening. See you next time.


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