If watching Jonathan Ive’s influence on Apple hadn’t made things clear enough, then the importance of Marissa Mayer in driving simplicity of user experience at Google should have been a clue to how important product design is in business success.
For years usablity was a relatively small domain, but if you’ve been driven out the shadows by Jakob Nielsen and Mark Hurst or better yet you’ve been lucky enough to work with great product designers you’ll know just how important it is.
I was really lucky in the States in the 90s to work with some excellent thinkers and practioners like Upe and Scott. These guys made me realize how important usability and design were to the building of great services.
More recently, since moving back to Europe I’ve again been inspired by some really incredible product designers. Niklas and Janus were some of the biggest believers in usability I’ve met and Skype invested heavily in product design – both in time and people. It really reaped the rewards.
Janus Friis has almost preternatural consumer instincts. His focus on simplicity has helped turn phones into software with Skype and now with Joost, he and Niklas are performing the same trick with TVs. But Skype would not be Skype without two other very big product design brains and their superb teams – Malthe Sigurdsson and Rodrigo Madanes.
There are awesome product designers in Europe (remember where Jonathan Ive is from!). In fact, its no surprise some of the world’s product design leaders like Nokia, IKEA and Porsche are European – we have an incredible heritage in design from furniture to couture.
So if you are selected for Seedcamp, you can expect to rub shoulders and be inspired by some of the best product designers – including Matt, Malthe, Rodrigo and Leisa Reichelt.
If I can’t convince that design matters, maybe they can.
All I know is there isn’t company that I’m working with now who either has product designers front and centre or is desperately seeking them.