Design Better Newsletter #5: AI Tools & Communication Strategy
Also, upcoming episodes, DB+ for teams, and a shout-out to our coffee fans
As the year comes to a close, we hope that you’re getting to spend lots of time with friends and family. It’s also a good time of year to reflect and be grateful, and here at Design Better we are so very grateful for all the support our listeners have given us since taking the podcast independent in January.
It may be a little late to order gifts for under the tree 🎄, but in case you’re still on the hunt for some last-minute in person shopping, we put together a holiday gift guide that can give you some ideas.
Ok, here’s what we have for the rest of newsletter:
Our upcoming episodes & AMAs
Design Better+ for teams
Margaret Lee on Communication as Strategy
A shout out to a few fans of our coffee
A roundup of AI tools and other links
Upcoming Episodes & AMAs
We’ve got some great episodes on the way in the New Year. On January 2nd, we’ll release our interview with Autumn Durald Arkapaw, cinematographer for movies and shows like Wakanda Forever and Loki. We’ll follow that up with Scott Rice, director and filmmaker who teaches a “Script to Screen” with Matthew McConaughey at UT Austin, and Jonathan Hoefler, one of the architects of the modern type industry.
And if you’d like to join in the conversation with some of our former guests and industry experts, we have upcoming AMAs with Jeff Gothelf, bestselling author, on making Agile and design work; Felix Lee, founder of ADP List, on mentorship and career growth; and Greg Hoffman, former Chief Marketing Officer at Nike, on the Nike design process and leading creative teams.
You can purchase individual tickets to these AMAs, or join DB+ for access to all of our AMAs, as well as access to ad-free episodes a week early.
Design Better+ for Teams
Speaking of DB+, we recently put together a plan for corporate teams. It’s a great opportunity to create a monthly “lunch and learn” for team bonding, and we’ve already had teams from Figma and Instacart sign up. If you’d like to learn more, just reach out to email@example.com.
Communication as Strategy
Margaret Lee, former UX teams and programs leader at Google, brings us insights from her current role as an executive and leadership coach.
As leaders, we spend an inordinate amount of time communicating across organizations. As touched upon in last month’s column on leadership presence, effective communication is key to credibility. Directing work, setting expectations, giving feedback, influencing without authority, presenting to executives — these are a few of the many activities that fill our calendars. How might we reframe the onslaught of daily interactions into an intentional communication strategy, so that the time we do spend meeting and messaging, saves us energy in the long run?
WHO / WHY: Know our audience and what they care about. Organizations get out of alignment for many reasons — differing priorities, incentives based on org structures vs outcomes, low transparency, reorgs, human nature — it doesn’t take much for misalignment to occur. Getting back in alignment is an act of empathy, of understanding what motivates those we’re in dialogue with. Listen to uncover the common ground that will help move the ball forward.
WHAT / HOW: One size won’t fit all. When our POV is well-internalized, we can easily adapt it to varying situations. Say we have an important presentation to deliver. Knowing our audience allows us to set context accordingly, to bring relevant points into greater focus over other points. Resist giving the same kitchen sink of information to everyone equally, to the benefit of no one. What lens might an exec need to sign off on a proposal? For a peer with whom we had no authority over, but needed the cooperation of? For the team responsible for driving execution? Draw from the same content, but contextualize it according to each audience’s particular altitude, priorities, and functional context. Choosing the right lens is an act of meeting mercy.
WHEN / WHERE: Right time, right place. We have myriad forums for communication, live and asynchronous: all-hands, team meetings, presentations, 1:1s, email, chat, etc. are all opportunities to communicate with intention. Treating meetings and emails as mundane items to check off our to-do list is a lost opportunity. Whether messaging change, presenting ideas, or engaging in debate and discussion, choose the appropriate forum (as well as the right lens) to best land the message.
Lastly, accept that most messages bear repeating, so don’t be shy. It's not "overcommunication" if it helps us increase understanding and get aligned. A communication strategy helps us not only in our work, but also in honing our credibility as leaders.
Margaret Lee is an Executive and Leadership Coach. She brings a wealth of prior experience leading UX teams and programs at Google. Interested in learning more? Connect on LinkedIn.
Design Better Coffee Fans
We’re really enjoying our partnership with Methodical Coffee, and judging from the reviews, many of you are as well:
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Designing Better Already!
Delicious! I have to admit, getting up early is just a little bit more exciting when I know there's a cup of this amazing coffee in my morning routine. The chocolatey, brown sugar goodness puts a smile on my face the minute I smell the aroma. Plus, supporting this amazing team and podcast is an absolute MUST! Eli and Aaron are delivering pure gold to us in the design trenches – not only with their stellar content and guests, but now with the morning fuel that helps keeps us all going. Thanks for the delightful treat. -Peggy
As promised, we also sent coffee mugs to our first five reviewers:
Thanks to all of you who have supported the show and fueled your creative endeavors at the same time. ☕
AI tools you should be playing with
When the holidays hit and we have a bit of down time, we love to dive into the tools and creative projects we don’t often have time for in our busy schedule. There’s a wealth of AI tools that were released in 2023, and we’re sharing a roundup of the ones we think will inspire and accelerate your work in 2024 along with some resources that will get you up to speed on AI and the creative process.
Ideogram.ai: visualize your ideas with AI and see what others are creating
Next: AI-powered product discovery platform that turns customer interactions into product insights.
Kroma: Color palette generation with AI
Color Magic: Another AI-powered color palette generator that creates colorways from words and phrases
Magician for Figma: A magical AI tool for Figma, generates images, icons, and text
Jasper: An AI assistant for marketing teams, content creation, voice and tone, and more
Pixel Cut: Create product photos super fast with this handy AI tool
Claid: Another AI tool to help you create attractive, high-converting product photos
Cleanup Pictures: Simple AI tool for removing unwanted objects from photos
Let’s Enhance: Upscale photos and improve resolution with this AI tool
People + AI Research: The homebase of Google’s AI UX research team, lots of articles worth reading
Newsletter Sponsors: Vestaboard & Brain.fm
A big thank you to two of our sponsors for this newsletter, Vestaboard and Brain.fm.
We just aired a bonus episode with Dorrian Porter, CEO of Vestaboard. We’re loving how our Vestaboard creates a space for sharing inspiring quotes or creative imagery that causes us to look up and reflect.
Until 12/31/2023, Design Better listeners can get $500 off one of these magical displays from Vestaboard. Visit Vestaboard.com and use the code “DESIGNBETTER” at checkout to save $500
We’ve sung the praises of Brian.fm, and how it helps us focus and rest. Our fans love it too. Friend of the show Dane Howard says:
“I’m often in need to maximize my headphone time, and when I heard about brain.fm on the Design Better Podcast, I knew I had to try it.
The science behind their approach is amazing, and I use several of their modules to get focused and get things done. I also have a son with severe ADHD, and he uses it when he studies for his finals in college. Grateful to this pioneering group to help calm and smooth in input as we maximize the output!”