The Design Blueprint

In 1-2 weeks, get an actionable design blueprint outlining the goals, success criteria, and future design work you need to do to enable your business strategy to become successful. Because design is about UX—and about business results.

two lane road in the desert headed towards a mountain

Bad design is really expensive.

Good design provides satisfactory UX and prevents wasteful spending on engineering and technology investment.

Great design unlocks innovation, delights customers, and deliver outsized business results. 

“There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer…Therefore, any business enterprise has two—and only two—basic functions: marketing and innovation.”
—Peter Drucker

Designing wireframes, UIs, and visualizations is not the first step in designing an indispensable, user-centered ML or analytics product intended to provide decision support.

Sometimes my clients have a hard time understanding the difference between "the design" and a "design strategy."

Let me put it to you in software engineering speak since chances are, you probably are technical:

If you're building or developing a serious software product or application, you don't just start coding on day one with no architecture, planning, or direction in mind about where you are going.

Good product and UX design works the same way, unless you want to potentially waste a lot of time and money failing slowly because you wait until you have mockups and UI designs to clarify where you are going (and hopefully where the tech will follow, if it's not already too late to course correct). Designing with no plan at all can work, but it's slower, more expensive, and it relies a lot more on "hope" than strategy.

This service is the opposite of this approach. It provides an actionable plan so you can move into the UI/UX design implementation with less technical risk and more confidence that vision for your business, org, and end users is going to come together sooner.

Here's how it works:

What You'll Get In this Engagement:

  • A strategy blueprint—delivered in a document called a design brief—describing the objectives and desired outcomes for your project, product, or solution. It states the business objectives, user goals, and success metrics written in technology-free language that will facilitate alignment between business/product, data, design, and engineering teams—all centered around the users and humans in the loop. Together, we will:
    • Define all of the human personas who have a stake in your solution and understand how they fit together (users, buyers, managers of users, downstream stakeholders, affected third parties, etc)
    • Express—in concise, simple language your whole implementation team can understand—the user goals, business objectives, and metrics for success so the team know's what success looks like before execution work goes too far
    • Factor in sales considerations from the start: if its a commercial service, what do the sales people need the product to do to be sellable? What blockers do they face that could be solved via design?
    • Determine whether to keep or toss any early investment/design work you may have done
    • Uncover any critical yet unarticulated challenges and risks that you may need to consider as the product is created
    • Create or curate the key high-level use cases that your product needs to support and determine which of them may be most critical to an MVP
    • Telegraph to your tech leads and architects as to what types of technology, services, or features may be desirable in the design of the product, so that important early technical decisions are driven by specific customer needs
  • Confidence in your product, project, or solution's direction—before you implement it
  • A proposal from me on how I can help you implement the strategy: when the brief is done, I'll make sure you have 1–3 options for how I might be able to to help you execute the strategy, should you wish to have my continued help. You are not required to use me for execution; the brief is yours to keep and use should you choose work only with staff, vendors, or contractors.
  • Confidence if you choose to outsource implementation: If you do choose to work with somebody else for execution part, you'll have crystal clear plan to share with them and focus the work. They will know the outcomes you seek to create—not just the technology outputs— and you'll be able to hold them accountable to specific, measurable user and business metrics.
  • (2) weeks worth of access to my Advisory Retainerso you have time to digest the blueprint, ask clarifying questions, and get my feedback should the blueprint generate new questions from your team.

View a Sample Blueprint (Design Brief)

Project: Deploying a Los Angeles County Covid-19 Neighborhood Risk Scoring Model to the Citizens

In conjunction with US Digital Response, I advised the Chief Data Officer and office of Los Angeles County on how they might deploy a new neighborhood-level Covid-19 risk scoring model that had been produced, but not operationalized in any way (software or otherwise). You can learn about the project, see a rough sketch, and watch the YouTube screencast in the final design brief produced (Google Doc). Note that this is not necessarily the exact format your design brief might take, but it will be similar.

Brian's work probably reduced our collaboration overhead by 50%…

I wondered at first whether Brian’s relative lack of experience in the patent/IP space would work with our team in the creation of a product like Legion, especially given the conservative, security-oriented corporate culture of Elysium. By the end, I realized just how much we needed Brian's approach, influence, and outside presence/energy to design a successful patent analysis tool. Brian made us think through the entire Legion product experience, and through this process, we learned to improve our own design skills. Today, our litigation consultants continue to use Legion regularly with clients. It has probably reduced collaboration overhead by 50% (which our clients love!) and allows consultants and clients to come together, using Legion’s data and analytics, to build shared understandings of patented inventions quickly.

Paul MattalPaul Mattal
Managing Director
Elysium Digital

Brian's designs and recommendations significantly shifted people’s excitement and expectations [for our survey data platform]. He understands data.

A big concern when you’re introducing new technology to your staff and clients is making sure they will want to use it. We were concerned about the ease of use and appeal of a new survey data platform we were introducing, but Brian was really able to understand our challenges quickly. His design and recommendations significantly shifted people’s excitement and expectations around it. A big reason why we hired Brian is because he understands data, and the new design he created will only help reinforce GSG’s brand as being innovative and ahead of the curve. My team has been really impressed with Brian's ideas and the simplicity of the designs he created. I definitely recommend him!

Michelle WoodruffMichelle Woodruff
VP of Practice Operations
Global Strategy Group

Do I really need a Design Blueprint before I start designing my application or service?

  • If you know exactly what to tell your team to design to achieve your business objectives and a delightful UX, then you may be ready to jump into execution work. Most of the product and data teams I work with cannot articulate clear user goals, tasks, business objectives, or success measurements and are spending the majority of their time building outputs. The purpose of this diagnostic is to elucidate the outcomes we seek to enable so that any outputs created are in service to the users and stakeholders.

Duration and What to Expect 

  • Timing: The complete design brief (i.e. the document I use to express the strategy roadmap/plan)  can be done in as little as 1 week, depending on the size/scale of your company, initiative, and the clarity you have when we begin. Typical time frame is 1-2 weeks, often dependent on stakeholder availability for interviews.
  • Materials Collection: Prior to the kickoff call, I will solicit materials from you about your current initiatives and  current product/service/delivery method. This usually means sending me either logins or screenshots of your current product, dashboards, applications, in addition to project/product briefs, business/product strategy decks, access to future-looking mockups/prototypes/design artifacts, and sales collateral.
  • Kickoff: The kickoff call is usually ~2 hours; you must be present for this as this is where the majority of the information I need will be gathered so I can work on the strategy document. We may need to have a few follow-up calls depending on the size/scope of your project.
  • Interviews: I will need access to key stakeholders; typically, on an enterprise project, I may interview up to 5-8 stakeholders 1x1.
  • Bring a Colleague: You can bring up to (1) colleague to join you for any live calls we do. We will be digging deep on these calls, so make sure you are comfortable being fully transparent with your colleague. All other interactions will be between me and you only.
  • Creation of the Blueprint (Design Brief): This is explained above; throughout the process, I will be drafting the design brief.
  • Findings call and Q/A session with me:  on our video call together, I will present the design brief to you, talk you through it, and answer ask any questions you may have about it. If there are any important gaps or missing areas, I will address those, revise the plan, and follow up with you in a second call to ensure it is comprehensive.
  • Access to me for 2 more weeks: immediately following the call, your (2) weeks of Advisory Retainer access will begin.

Price and 100% Money-Back Guarantee

The price for this service is $9,000, and it comes with a 100% money-back guarantee: if you aren’t happy immediately after we complete the initial Kickoff Call, and I can’t make it right, I will refund all of your money, with no questions asked. All you have to do is notify me on the Kickoff Call.

Fine Print

  • Payment is due up front, in full using a credit card via the Buy Now box below. To pay via ACH transfer, or bank wire, email me for payment instructions. Unfortunately, I cannot accept payment through third parties or any other method except for those stated here.
  • This packaged service is subject to the terms and conditions of my consulting services and the terms described on this page. In short, it is provided "as-is" to ensure the best value and fastest possible delivery.  No additions or modifications to these terms may be made without turning this into a custom engagement that would increase the price significantly.
  • On request, I can record the phone calls for you and send them to you.
  • This plan does not include me redesigning or designing your product/solution. It is diagnostic and advisory in nature, however we can discuss how I might be able to help you implement the resulting strategy at the end of the engagement.

[Brian is] the reference for a great designer

I always considered you as the reference for a great UX designer...

Omri KesselOmri Kessel
VP & GM Cloud Insights Software Business

Brian brings a very high floor in terms of end results. The worst possible end result they will get from him is so much higher than what most designers can provide at their best.

When you’re bringing on a consultant, there is always a level of uncertainty about results, and there’s nothing worse than ending up with solutions that aren’t feasible, workable, or usable at the end of the process. While Brian’s processes differed from what I was used to, and I didn’t always want to get into the level of requirements detail that he felt was necessary, the bottom line is that Brian brings a very high floor in terms of end results. Given how many different responsibilities I am juggling at any given time, it was extremely comforting to know that my goals for the [new Apptopia analytics] product would always be met, and that my bottom line was so high. I’ve recommended Brian to my peers because the worst possible end result they will get from him is so much higher than what most designers can provide at their best.

Jonathan KayJonathan Kay
CEO, Apptopia

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Photo by Diego Jimenez on Unsplash.