Design Staff: Does Your Startup Need a Designer Co-Founder?

Enrique Allen is a cool cat. This is also a great post.

In  A Software Design Manifesto, Mitch Kapor argues that the most important social evolution within computing professions would be to create a role for the software designer as a champion of user experience. He defines a designer as someone who stands with a foot firmly in two worlds – the world of technology and the world of people and human purposes – and brings the two together. Although over 15 years old, Kapor’s argument holds strong to this day. Designers need engineering skills and technical understanding so they can continue to stand with feet in both worlds.

The successful designer founders we’ve seen are consistently multidisciplinary – they have the full range of skills necessary to make decisions about product design and work with a development team to execute on those decisions. Their skills range from user research, to interaction design, to information architecture, to communication design, to writing. They may not be experts in all areas, but they can “wear all the hats” in the early days of a startup and attract specialists when needed.

Designer founders understand the technology commonly used to build software products and the business methods used to market and evaluate those products. As a designer, design skills are important – but as a founder, technology and business skills are critical to lead not only product design but an entire company.

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