Design is the New Delineator


Holden Steinberg

on •

Feb 17, 2023

Design is the New Delineator

We are in a new era of tech where design has become the delineator between the software you trust and the software you question.

Ten years ago, you knew a product was, for lack of a better word, “a little sketchy” you knew because it was broken, but now with the proliferation of the cloud and APIs, startups can create highly functional software.This has shifted the landscape of user trust to design.

My mom interacts with tens of startups a week, and I think that's true of today's average consumer. So I always tell our clients: you have to meet the expectations your potential users have formed by interacting with the most popular products in the market, and that bar is high and getting higher.

To compete, you need to meet the bar set by companies like Apple, Uber, and Google (and in case you have been living under a rock, yes, Google is now really good at design). 

Because if you don’t (even with a product that provides immeasurable value), you run the risk of your product being ignored, misunderstood, undervalued, and abandoned. 

At the highest execution of the craft, design acts as a translation layer communicating the value of your product back out to the user, making it intrinsic and digestible.

Unfortunately, we are in a shortage of true product design talent, and worse than that, design and design thinking have become such mainstream concepts that misinformation and hashtag-able tech buzzwords make it really hard to know how to capture the value design can bring to your company.

While crafting the vision for Atrium’s design value prop, I was forced to solidify and codify what I have found (over the last 15 years in product design) to be the highest impact drivers of value in design. 

It all boils down to one very simple and observable metric: real product designers optimize developer velocity.

Why? Because real product designers want users to experience their work, and that means it has to be built and pushed to production. 

I know this is a controversial opinion, but as I expound on this in a series of posts on how design drives and delineates value, I think you will see my point, and at the very least, it will spark some interesting and deep conversations.

Until next week when I dig into the importance of having a strong cross-functional bridge between designers and developers in my next piece, Design and Dev: An Unbreakable Bond

- Holden Steinberg, VP of Design at Artium