KPCB launched ProductWorks, a new program to offer founders unrivalled access to product development expertise, by hosting a panel featuring KPCB’s Bing Gordon, John Maeda, Mike Abbott and Megan Quinn as well as Travis Bogard, VP of Product Management and Strategy at Jawbone, and Daniel Danker, Chief Product Officer at Shazam. The afternoon was filled with discussion about the intersection of design and technology, the future of product design and the importance of the ProductWorks program.
Why did the world-famous design expert John Maeda leave his post as president of the Rhode Island School of Design to come to Silicon Valley? Maeda says the answer lies in the increasing overlap between design and technology.
Maeda joined KPCB as Design Partner, where he’s working with world-class entrepreneurs as part of the firm’s ProductWorks program. He talked about his career shift, and the growing importance of design in the Valley, at a KPCB event launching ProductWorks in December 2013. Also on the panel that afternoon were KPCB’s Bing Gordon, Mike Abbott and Megan Quinn, as well as Travis Bogard, VP of Product Management and Strategy at Jawbone, and Daniel Danker, Chief Product Officer at Shazam.
KPCB General Partner Bing Gordon, now the firm’s Chief Product Officer, says the key to better product design is a combination of math and emotion. When you produce products that are even incrementally better, bottom line performance can improve dramatically. He notes that the difference between product failure or success can often boil down to that last round of improvements and polish.
Steve Jobs, Gordon says, was great at the last 10%. “Jobs would keep grinding on the last 10%,” he says. “That was the difference between the BlackBerry and iPhones.”
Gordon discussed his new role at KPCB, and the firm’s roll out of ProductWorks, at the firm’s San Francisco office.
KPCB’s John Maeda, in a wide ranging discussion about the interaction of design and technology, asserted that in the tech world, design is always a factor, but often ignored. “It’s like the fish that can’t see water,” he said.
Has Apple iOS 7 spurred deterioration in inventive software product design?
That fascinating question cropped up as part of a panel discussion about technology and design hosted by KPCB.
Daniel Danker, Chief Product Officer at Shazam, cautioned that you can lose a user-centric view if you try too hard to fit with a particular iOS design. But he says iOS 7 isn’t to blame, and that the key is to focus on the purpose the app has in the first place.
Jawbone VP of Product Management and Strategy Travis Bogard’s view is that ultimately, the whole discussion around design-led versus engineering-led is old thinking. Now the question is, what is the pure fundamental human problem we need to go solve. We want the technology to disappear and get back to the person in the center of it.
When it comes to product design, first impressions matter.
That was one of the many insights that emerged from a panel discussion on design and technology hosted by KPCB.
Bing Gordon made the point that design boils down to cognitive psychology. They use a different language for what feels right. Daniel Danker adds that consumer expectations matter. Gordon agreed, asserting that first impressions matter. Jawbone, he notes, used clear plastic for their products that made them “look like gems.”
Where’s technology going next? It’s a big question, which spurred a spirited discussion at a panel on design and technology held by KPCB at the firm’s San Francisco office.
John Maeda’s view is that design becomes more important over time. His view: Technologists are getting more and more bored with what they can do. “People want to feel something again,” he says, suggesting that better design make products more compelling to users.
Bing Gordon asserts that technology “wants” to be smarter and self-replicating, more invisible to users, and remove as much friction from the system as possible.