A Moonshot goal permeates the desire for growth in the tech industry. An audacious corporate goal that is supposed to inspire 10× thinking and bring in breakthrough outcomes. The inspiration for corporate moonshots comes from President Kennedy’s plan to land a man on the Moon. However, these corporate moonshots are often amiss. Let’s revisit the history to find out why.

Exploring the space (Illustration by Icons 8 from Icons8)
Exploring the space (Illustration by Icons 8 from Icons8)

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy set a bold goal for the American nation in his speech before the Congress:

“ … this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.

As bold, and perhaps outrageous, as Kennedy’s moonshot was, Americans achieved it. On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 was the first crewed mission to land on the Moon. …

Engaging business stakeholders as observers in usability testing is a good thing. But what should you do when the CEO asks to participate in a usability session?

Testing a website (illustration from icons8.com)
Testing a website (illustration from icons8.com)
Testing a website (illustration from icons8.com)

While it is uncommon that the busy stakeholders will nominate themselves as participants in usability testing, it happens. Especially when they are emotionally attached to the new product or feature you’re about to test. Stakeholders — who are immensely involved in the project and talk to customers a lot — may believe in gaining a mythical skill of “fitting into the role of an average user”. A usability session seems like an ideal place to apply that skill. It’s a moment when CEOs or product managers feel they can mediate the feedback of many users in one session. …

Finding a customer problem worth solving is key to successful products and businesses. But how do you distinguish a pressing problem from a mere inconvenience? And what’s a customer problem anyway? Let me show you a Customer problem template to help you identify painstaking problems, as well as lead relevant discussions with your customers.

Two people having a conversation
Two people having a conversation

We all have product ideas. We want to solve problems. We strive to make things easier, more convenient. We are wired by nature to think about solutions. And yet, a striving business idea starts with an insightful understanding of a customer problem. But how do we know we’re dealing with a pressing problem, when we hear one? It depends on what you are able to hear.

When I talk to emerging product designers, they hear problems such as these:

  • “The product X is missing the feature Y”
  • “People need to use the device X to do the activity Y”
  • “Insufficient…

Prepare research — recruit participants — talk to them — make sense of what you’ve heard. Rinse and repeat. It takes a lot of time and energy to get that invaluable feedback from your customers and you wouldn’t want to waste that effort by letting your ego roll over the interview, right?

Casual interview
Casual interview

Let’s say we’re past the definition of solid research goals and we’re about to run the interview. We’re super eager to grasp the customer’s world and we can’t wait for the meeting. But as it happens, customers aren’t always as excited about new products or features as we are. And we’re about to hear it first hand. If you aren’t ready for it, your ego will get hurt and you will most likely try to save your face. A moment like that can ruin the rest of the interview.

Luckily, there is a way to become aware of when this…

Survey — the holy grail of understanding your customers at scale. But is it? It depends on how you ask questions.

Photo by Thierry Fillieul from Pexels

A survey is a popular technique to collect quantitative data. And also, it’s one of the most difficult techniques to master. The challenge is to design survey questions so you collect relevant data.

We all hope to ask questions to get actionable answers to build our decisions upon. When you design a survey, you strive to form questions that all respondents understand in the same way and without bias. Otherwise, you’re looking for trouble — you’ll get insufficient or erroneous answers. What is even worse, you may not even know that your collected data are spoiled.

I’d like to show…

Back in 2015, I got involved in a rather exciting side-project. My mother had been collecting stories about Rusyns who live in North-Eastern Slovakia and who survived World War II. She compiled the fragments of memories into a moving collection of six short stories. After four years of dedicated work, the book was ready for publishing.

I loved this project from the very beginning. The stories carry the unique legacy, and the job was full of exciting challenges. My role was to design the book cover, typeset the publication, and to manage the entire production. And the book had one…

Braňo Šandala

As a freelance product designer, I help startups and software companies turn bold product ideas into thriving businesses.

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