Principles for designing great products together

Aug 24, 2023

In the heart of every masterpiece, whether an art form or an ingenious gadget, lies a hidden story of conception, creativity, and countless iterations.

Well-designed products like sturdy buildings have solid principles as their foundation. Think of principles as values everyone understands and champions. I’m sharing some of my learnings working with incredible designers, researchers, and product managers.

Enable productive collaboration

Imagine a world where every idea is an island, isolated and distant. Ineffective, right? Successful product builders understand this. They champion collaborative brainstorming, transforming every design studio session into a marketplace of ideas. It’s not enough to come up with ideas; it’s crucial to cultivate and empower team members to embrace and champion those ideas together.

Excellent at defining success

On one particularly cloudy evening, I watched a team struggle to find direction, lost without their north star. The best product designers always have their compass at the ready. They swiftly establish clear objectives, ensuring everyone sails in harmony. When turbulent winds of misalignment arise, they adjust the sails, realigning the ship with the north star.

Act like an owner

Instead of waiting for instructions, they proactively pitch ideas for new opportunities. This starts with a high-level vision, which is divided into smaller tasks. They take responsibility for fixing broken experiences, regardless of who broke them.

Work smart, not hard

Remember the tortoise and the hare? Speed doesn’t always win the race; it combines craft, synergy, and strategy. It’s about streamlining tasks, sharing techniques, and innovating consistently. It’s the tortoise’s journey – steady, thoughtful, and always moving forward.

Showing, not just telling

Words can tell, but visuals? They show and captivate. Powerful visuals are the campfires around which teams and stakeholders gather, drawn into the warmth of a shared vision. These individuals unleash their skills to create powerful visuals that align the team and stakeholders. They are force multipliers that spark ideas, fuel conversations, and foster a collective vision of the future.

Sharing early & openly

Embarking on a journey is exciting, but the tales of the journey shared with enthusiasm, captivate listeners. Top product designers share their stories early and often, inviting others to be co-authors rather than mere spectators. They set the proper context and are honest about what’s working and, more importantly—what’s not. They seek input from their harshest critics to solve complex problems.

Prioritize progress over perfection

They are comfortable embracing the unknown. By moving forward, they create opportunities for discovery and feedback. They know that perfection is achieved through iteration and learning. They learn from mistakes and continuously improve based on those lessons.

Optimize for async sharing

In modern product teams, they’re aware of the importance of communicating at the right altitude with relevant stakeholders. Two things these individuals do consistently well are

  • Build context with video walkthroughs: They visualize concepts and reduce meetings. With async video walkthroughs, they can share context and accompany click-through prototypes for remote collaboration.

  • Prototype more: They use clickable prototypes to boost design quality, guiding teammates to spot areas for improvement in flows and interactions.

Ask a lot of questions

Asking good questions is a superpower. Outstanding product designers ask questions to create alignment, keep biases in check, uncover problems, or challenge the status quo. They might risk sounding silly, but ask their questions regardless.

Aren’t afraid to call out bad ideas

They are fearless in speaking up against bad ideas when creating something unique. They provide clear reasons and insights for their critique. They do it with kindness and constructiveness but never hold back.


Outstanding product designers are not just dreamers but doers who turn visions into tangible experiences—evoking emotions, shaping experiences, and connecting the dots in ways most wouldn’t think of. Behind the curtain of every intuitive experience or groundbreaking product, there’s a symphony of principles, values, and relentless dedication.