• Applicable


Preempting, identifying and deciphering user needs can be arduous. Happily, customers frequently communicate their needs via their interactions with products and services. Designer Tom Hulme cleverly explains how to recognize and interpret these messages, which aren’t overly cryptic, and once you learn how to spot them, you will notice them everywhere. Though Hulme procures most of his examples from the field of town planning, getAbstract believes designers of all ilks can derive important lessons from his pithy thesis.


Designers often are unable to gauge the efficacy of their ideas until they can observe users interacting with their concepts in the real world. Highbury Fields, a parkland in North London, offers a fitting example. This pretty green area is lined on all sides by historic Georgian buildings. But a muddy trail cutting across the center of the lawn shows that locals don’t want to walk the circumference of the park; they want to take a direct route through the middle. Repetitive use of this path creates a “self-reinforcing” shortcut, and the trail etched into the terrain identifies the point where design and user experience deviate. Designers are responsible for finding “low friction” solutions to consumer needs, which...

About the Speaker

Designer Tom Hulme is a partner at GV, the venture capital arm of Alphabet. He also works as a design adviser.

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