Our February Design Reading List

As we continue to build out both ThoughtSpot and our design team, we’re always looking for ways to improve the process behind creating great products. Often we kickstart these conversations by looking at the discussions happening across the greater design community.

Every company has its unique approach to design, so it’s helpful to hear how certain methods have worked or failed for others, especially since we’re trying to bring a completely new type of design thinking to the business intelligence industry. For example, we spent a lot of time in February reflecting on how we can incorporate cycles of short design sprints in collaboration with product management, engineering, and our end users.

Here are a few articles we enjoyed that helped us rethink and guide this process.

1. Lessons Learned from Scaling a Product Team

Cadence of building matters. We're in a race against time. 

A lot of advice out there on how companies design and develop is fairly abstract, so it’s always nice to finally find something detailed and concrete. Paul Adams at Intercom does a fantastic job clearly laying out their team’s process and philosophy, chock-full of interesting examples, too. It gives us a lot to think about as we iterate on our own way of building.


2. Any Research is Better Than No Research

There really is no right or wrong research method – there is only the one that is right for you, at a particular moment in time. 

We get it, it’s not always easy to do as much research as you’d like to - time, resources, and budgets (maybe even people) can get in the way. Here, Sinead Cochrane, Product Researcher at Intercom, gives a few pointers on how to collect insights from your users while staying within your abilities.


3. Defining Principles to Drive Design Decisions

While we joke about it, our commitment to prioritization serves us well. It's powerful — powerful because the things we could do are limitless, but the things we will do are finite.

JD Vogt, Principal Designer at Salesforce, sheds light on Salesforce’s process of defining design principles to guide product development and decision-making on projects. It’s a great read and framework to build alignment within teams.


4. Google Ventures on How Sketching Can Unlock Big Ideas

When the whole team works in parallel, they generate competing ideas, without the groupthink of a group brainstorm. You might call this method 'work alone together.' 

At ThoughtSpot, we’ve been looking into working in design sprints, such as the five-day process for teams at Google Ventures. Here, Jake Knapp emphasizes the importance of sketching in design sprints as a way of thinking deeply about the problem at hand. He introduces a neat method called the “four-step sketch” that works as a reliable way for teams and individuals to crystallize concrete and considered ideas.


5. Reactions: Not Everything in Life is Likeable

Like all good design, the process of getting to a simple solution is complex. It was incredibly important to be empathetic here.

Geoff Teehan, Product Design Director at Facebook, writes about the process behind looking beyond Like by designing and developing the new Reactions feature. We found this to be an insightful window into how Facebook redesigned one of the most iconic aspects of their product - particularly fun to see the iterations the team went through!


In the coming months, we’ll be taking what we’ve learned so far and adapting some of these best practices to influence how we build product here at ThoughtSpot. Stay tuned!