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Well-Designed: How to Use Empathy to Create Products People Love

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  384 ratings  ·  49 reviews
From Design Thinking to Design Doing

Innovators today are told to run loose and think lean in order to fail fast and succeed sooner. But in a world obsessed with the new, where cool added features often trump actual customer needs, it’s the consumer who suffers. In our quest to be more agile, we end up creating products that underwhelm.

So how does a company like Nest, creat
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published November 11th 2014 by Harvard Business Review Press (first published October 28th 2014)
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Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
I should caveat this review by saying that I am a software tester and developer. This book appears to be designed specifically for product managers. I'm normally all for crossing barriers between domains. However, I don't feel like this was a good guide for those trying to get a peek into the world of a project manager. The book gets awfully specific about certain techniques that product managers might use to create empathy with the users, but there just aren't enough examples to see how those t ...more
Stefan Schmager
Aug 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Well designed by Jon Kolko can be seen as one big case study. It has almost a novel character on how to approach product management, backed with method descriptions and practical tips. The author leads through a design-driven approach to product management, from determining product-market fit to product strategy to polishing the details.

The intended audience are designers with an interest in, if not the desire to move into product management. The ideas Kolko describes are basically applying desi
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book is about using empathy and customer emotions in order to develop better products that are deeply rooted in lives and behaviors of clients. The aim is to create products and services which are more emotionally connected with the desires, wants and needs of the customer, and the way of doing it is being more empathetic with them, ie, step into their shoes, spend more time with them in their daily lives and most importantly ask Why do they do what they do.

The author supports his theory re
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book really taught me about user empathy - go out of your office, watch users consume your product(mere interviews won't give you insights. U gotta watch how do users use your product).
Right from the concepts of sharing economy(resources are scarce),avoiding feature creep(creating more and more features would make your users take more time to solve their pain), resisting from the urge of pushing your thoughts ahead of your consumers, among many others, this is really one hell of a book.
Ellen Chisa
This book is the closest I've come to one that summarizes the process I've used to build things - and one of the better books on the role of the PM discipline (especially through interviews).

My only major concern is the lack of diversity featured in the book - just one interviewee talking about Kathy Sierra, and a brief snippet from a designer at Frog.

I think getting a bit further away from the typical "product" people would have added nuance and depth to the concepts.
Sam Hysell
Jun 02, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is a great primer to people who are not well versed in design thinking and it's application in software development... Definitely super valuable for those getting their feet wet though and some of the actionable recommendations are great refreshers. ...more
Zachary Slayback
Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
A nice collection of interviews with successful product designers and some useful tools -- both practical and mental -- for product design and management.
Adam Zabell
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
tl;dr - design-focused thinking leads to products people like to use

Market to insight to strategy to vision. And ultimately, shipped out the door for the market that started you. Thinking like a designer -- "using empathy" -- is held in contrast to analytical thinking. For a Designer, the choices are intuitive first and then backed by a tangible artifact (customer research, white board full of colors, team meeting notes). The hardest part is not the thinking, but the ways to communicate that thi
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
In Well Designed Mr. Kolko provides solid case studies in the form of interviews supporting the idea that empathy allows product managers and designers to build and design products people will truly love and use. This book was difficult to read at various points and that may have been because I am not a designer so I had to go back and reread them This book is well worth the effort to read and I would recommend it to others.
Aniket Patole
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book makes it easy for anyone and everyone to know about design. It is written in such an interesting way that even if you are from non design background, reader will understand more about design. Its obvious that there is more to design than what is collected in this book. So this book is very good for everyone who wants to get started with UX Design. But then again you'll have to read many other books and keep up with the changing trends of the market. ...more
Apr 17, 2018 rated it liked it
To begin with, the title of the book is very well designed. A nice read for people who don't know much about design or who fantasises design to be something mysterious. Design isn't mysterious. Design is about making a series of good decisions that often refers back to its project brief. ...more
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
“The design process I’ll lay out...leads to innovation and emotionally engaging new products and services. This process is centered around empathy and is built on deep research with real people in their natural environments.”
Jan 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Must read for anyone working on product innovation. This will be doing on my work book shelf as a reference - it is full of practical guides for working day to day in leading a team through an empathetic vision.
Chris Jones
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Only one woman is quoted in this entire book about design and empathy. One.

The rest is a "take these design steps" for product managers with one exercise in empathy.
David Roy
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a great overview of the product management process. This book also covers how product management changes through companies and stages in companies.
Emma Ripley
Apr 19, 2018 rated it liked it
30,000 ft view with a few practical exercises. The interviews were also pretty good!
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thought this was a well-thought our and interesting view of product management. I really liked the interviews and how I was able to see real life examples of the principles of the book in action.
Cara Embry
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting step by step process on product management and the bigger role of design therein.
Jeamy Williams
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is fantastic, as all the models truly help one develop a reality from their envision. Overall a great read, highly recommend!!
Mehmet Tümer
Mar 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The book is essentially abou the Product Management other that product design or industrial design. With every detail, Jon Kolko manages to give what is Product Management and how to do it at best.
Apr 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Reading work-related stuff has rarely been this pleasant. It's a very well-structured and thoughtful book that brought new insights and inspiration every other page. ...more
Stephanie Taylor
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I learned so much from this book! Every page is highlighted with insight I will use in my work. It's about designing in a new way that is focused on the users needs not just the business needs. I am already putting the concepts to work. ...more
Adria 🌝
Jul 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Whoops I didn’t realize this was about app/software design and not product/industrial design before reading, but! I was still able to glean some really interesting design concepts. Was a fascinating insight into this world of design that I’m not familiar with conceptually, but one that I interact with constantly on a day to day basis, even as I write this review! Glad I spent the time reading this and very much enjoyed the case studies presented through interviews with experienced project manage ...more
Nov 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Did this book deliver on its promised slogan of using empathy to create a product people love? Did this reviewer fall in love with it and be enthused…?

The aim is simple, look at the changing state of the market and consider the new challenges that companies face to get customers to buy their products and services. Engagement and empathy are two of the new buzzwords and so the author offers a “new view and usable process for conceiving and building powerful, emotionally resonant new products.” P
Donn Lee
Jun 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is about production management, something I knew close to nothing before I started.

But this book provided what I think is a great introduction to this field, and I now have a much better understanding and appreciation of product management.

One of the interesting things about product management is that you don't have to be a "product manager" to do product management (this is also explicitly stated in the book).

Having created many data products (tools, reports) for the Sales team, and
Dharmesh Mehta
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There is so much around us - gadgets, softwares, appliances, architecture. What makes us, the users, connect with some products and not others. How does Apple manage time and again to woo people? How did Nest manage to earn a $3.2 billion Google acquisition? The emotional connection. They know how to address the needs and the feelings of people. They know how to design products with empathy.

This isn't simply a sit-back and read book. It's a playbook. Jon walks you through a well-crafted process
Salman Ansari
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is fantastic. While I was initially reading it to get a better understanding of the role of empathy in design, I quickly found that I couldn't put this book down. It's an incredible manual for a much more "design thinking"-oriented way to approach product development.

The book has two main components:
- A hypothetical use case of product development
- A selection of interviews

The interviews are the most valuable part of the book, but aside from that it's also filled with lots of actionabl
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is about design-driven product management.

It sets out a design process, its goals, and a fairly detailed look at some of the techniques within the process to support those goals. Through a hypothetical case study, we follow the process from beginning to end. There's not a deep discussion of theory behind the process within the book.

As well as the process itself, there are good tactical suggestions for employing the process, and great interviews with seasoned product managers who provi
Mar 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Despite its title, this book barely addresses empathy in product design. The vague, conversational tone clashes with the detailed processes the author focus on, making it read like a glorified transcript of an advising session. The language is repetitive and his advice is only relevant to a very particular work environment. It was poorly structured and needed more editing. An actual quote from the book: "Product design is hard, hard work. You deserve to feel good about your accomplishments." Was ...more
Soham Malakar
May 06, 2016 rated it liked it
This book says more on Product management and less on Empathy.
The author although shows how to align your product development process so that your products appeal to the feelings of people, his explications are inclined more to the product management than to the show efficient processes to use empathy.
From the title, which says "How to use empathy to create products people love" , I expected efficient ways that use human-computer interface psychology to gain user's love and not product managemen
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