Diagram showing the circular movement of a digital team through three activities; futures, features and fixes
Diagram showing the circular movement of a digital team through three activities; futures, features and fixes
Digital products need teams tackling ‘fixes, features and futures’

Successful and sustainable digital products come from a blend of innovation and iteration. Yet most design teams and their digital product roadmaps are out of balance.

Start-ups over-index on big and new ideas at the cost of accumulating design and technical debt. Established organisations play it safe tending to focus on incremental optimisation and in doing so put themselves under threat from disruptors and challengers. Of course, these are generalisations. But ones I repeatedly see working across sectors with businesses of all sizes and at varying stages of digital maturity.

What does your product roadmap look like?

As any Product Owner will tell you, prioritising what to…

It’s 7pm in the UK. I started my day talking to someone in Tokyo, before moving to Manchester, and I’ve just finished up in San Francisco. Eighteen timezones. 14,645km (give or take). And no jetlag.

A map of the world with lines from the UK to major cities five continents
A map of the world with lines from the UK to major cities five continents
Image is a derivative of “Figma World Map Dotted” by Raven, used under CC BY 4.0.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been globetrotting to carry out research as part of a design project for UCL (University College London). It’s an institution that prides itself on attracting students from all over the world, and across all the nooks of the UK. It’s important that the work we’re doing is informed by their voices and needs.

For me, honing my remote research…

Starting a project with a new client is both exciting and daunting, especially in a sector you haven’t much experience of. I’d like to share my client immersion checklist. It’s what I use at the outset of a project to help make the unfamiliar more familiar.

One of the joys of working in an agency and across many sectors is the exposure you get to organisations and industries that sit outside of your current experience. This also creates a challenge. How do you gain a deep understanding of a new domain and at speed?

At the start of a project…

Nathan Dumbleo on Unsplash

Just because your training budget has stopped doesn’t mean your training should. Instead of making cuts to staff training, I want to suggest some alternative and cost-effective ways to achieve similar results.

In times of economic uncertainty, one of the first things to get cut and last to get reinstated is the training budget. Upskilling staff is often perceived as an unjustifiable expense. A luxury, an extra, a perk only to be rolled out during the good times. Yet team members who feel invested in with up-to-the-moment skills are likely to be the catalyst for the growth of your business.

Make learning a habit

Whether you are a military unit, a dance troupe, a sports team, or a rock band, training is the way to become match fit or performance-ready. …

I find training people in UX, research and digital design skills both a rewarding and fascinating part of my role at Clearleft.

Over the years I’ve done a fair amount of remote training sessions. However, my preference has always been for delivering in-person classroom-based training. Well, times have changed. For me, this has been an opportunity to reconsider the best ways to run training at distance.

I recently had the privilege of running some training sessions with the design team at Duck Duck Go. We covered product design and research techniques. Beyond having a great search engine that puts privacy…

A handful of things in life are inevitable. On this list you’ll find taxes, death and — if you work in a project team — having more ideas than you have time to deliver.

Whether creating products or services, working for an agency or for an in-house team, the list of potential features and ongoing fixes is always outpaced by the available time to explore, build and release them.

In ‘Good Strategy. Bad Strategy’, Richard Rumelt says sagely: “strategy is at least as much about what an organisation does not do as it is about what it does”.

With this in mind, here’s a roundup of some simple techniques for prioritisation. These can help project teams take control and manage their backlog. …

Want to create better designs? Interested in becoming a better designer? There are few shortcuts to better design but introducing regular structured critique to your design process is one of them.

In my role as a UX consultant, I’m often helping clients improve the impact and efficiency of their design work. In reviewing how design is done I’m surprised that there is frequently an absence of routine critique sessions.

The good news is that critique is an easy habit to adopt and develop. I’m going to give a few tips in this article to show it’s quick to do, rewarding…

We regularly use design sprints to help clients to accelerate design, unblock problems and investigate new ideas. We’re big fans of design sprints when done well.

However . . .

. . . we also find there are some common misunderstandings about the technique pioneered by Jake Knapp and the team at Google Ventures.

During UX London Jerlyn and I ran a Design Sprint 102 workshop. As part of it, we tested 5 myths we often hear by getting people to run to different sides of a room to show if they thought a statement was true or false.


‘How do you know your site structure is needing attention before it becomes really broken?”. I’ve recently been asked variations of this question by a couple of clients, a colleague and the attendees of an IA presentation I was giving. Here are three tell-tale signs to look for and some ways to avoid the problem in the first place.

A great information architecture (IA) tells a story, creates flow and aids discovery for the people using your products or services.

An ailing IA threatens to silence your content, prevent conversion (sales and engagement) and frustrate your users. …

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Bang! Out of the blocks. Arms and legs pumping. Blink and you’ll miss the human-missile as they burst through the finishing line swiftly followed by a rapturous ovation.

The perception of the 100-meter sprint is that it’s won between the blocks and the finishing line. I’ve often heard the same said about the five-day design sprint format popularised by Jake Knapp and the team from Google Ventures. Get Monday to Friday right and success is pretty much guaranteed.

But, it’s not just the 9.58 seconds of running fast that makes Usain Bolt a world champion sprinter. …

Chris How

Principal UX Consultant @clearleft & Co-organiser of @uxcampbrighton. Insatiable curiosity for people, digital design and tech. Recovering Post-it note addict.

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