Designing Our Way Through Uncertain Times – San Francisco Design Week Recap

By on in Design, Events, San Francisco

We’re in a moment of unprecedented change.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many product designers to face a variety of new professional challenges. We’ve paused co-located work. We’re unable to see users and co-workers in person. We’re required to explore new ways of collaboration, all while navigating the ups and downs of today’s economy.

Furthermore, the changes caused by the pandemic aren’t the only powerful force shifting our society right now. The push for reforms around social justice are also reshaping our lives daily. These experiences, combined with a feeling of uncertainty, have created many new questions for designers to examine.

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Pivoting and User Research During a Pandemic

By on in User Research

Creating a consistent feedback loop with users through quantitative and qualitative user research is the foundation of any lean, user-centric product team.


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We often invest the most in user research when the product roadmap is new and unproven. The early focus is on product-market fit. Early-stage questions to solve include:

  • Do the people we think have this problem actually have this problem?
  • How do they solve it now?
  • Is it painful enough a problem to change the way they are currently doing this?
  • Is this solution the one to solve this problem?
  • Will people pay for this solution? How much?

By the time you’re into the growth phase of a product or company, you have found product-market fit and are now asking questions about optimizing user experiences, creating more value for your users or testing out new solutions to reach more potential market segments.

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Human-Centered Learning Loops with IDEO

By on in Design, Events

Carbon Five San Francisco hosts Talk Nights and invites the community to join the conversation on how we can build better products together.

This month we were joined by two guest speakers from IDEO, Kaitlyn Irvine, an Interaction Designer, and Nadia Surtees, a Design Researcher. Together, they discussed Human-Centered Learning Loops and some of their recent user research projects done by IDEO in collaboration with Carbon Five.

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Ground Control to Major Tom: How to Excel in Remote Research

By on in Design, User Research

There is never a ‘good time’ to do research, but we can at least all agree when and why it is necessary for strategic product decisions. What happens when the only research you can fit in your project is remote – with participants and with a co-located team? Before you cringe, pull your hair, or just laugh – here are some techniques we learned during our recent engagement with DailyPay.

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Map vs Path

By on in Design, Process

It’s a simple idea that can help your digital product take shape; when a user enters your system, do you hand them a map or a path? What’s the difference? Great question, and in this case, the metaphor is pretty literal.

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Experiment-Driven Design Process

By on in Design, Process

So you want to grow your product? That’s super awesome. Growth is often a goal that startups rush towards. 

“We need 100,000 monthly active users yesterday.” – random startup person 

Growth can mean a lot of things. Maybe you’re trying to grow the number of users, or increase time spent using your product. Whatever it is, growth usually means moving metrics. But meeting your growth goal takes a very meticulous and strategic design process. You need to try out ideas and see what actually works. In this article, I am going to share how to set up a successful experiment-driven design process that can help you identify the features and changes to grow your product. Let’s grow!

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Approaching Gender in Software Products

By on in Design, Everything Else, User Research

It is a delight to use software that seems to really ‘get’ you as a person! To achieve this, it requires that the software has been built by people who sought out to understand their users. When software isn’t built with its users in mind, it has the potential to leave its users feeling alienated. In this post, we’ll be exploring a seemingly simple item we often put on forms that is very easy to get wrong: the gender field.

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NYC Design Mentor Night Recap

By on in Design, Events

On Wednesday night, designers and design lovers from all over NYC gathered at Carbon Five SoHo to receive career guidance, feedback, and insights from five senior designers. The evening kicked off with a Q&A with our panelists:

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Building Design Systems for Scaling Companies – SF Talk Night Recap

By on in Design, Events, San Francisco

How can scaling companies maintain design consistency and quality as internal and engineering teams exponentially grow?

Last week, Carbon Five San Francisco hosted Talk Night to answer this question and to discuss the secret benefits of building design systems for growing companies. Our guest speakers included:

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