Building @ Speed of Thought

Data Driven Ethnography

Photo by Lukas Meier on Unsplash

This idea originated from a saying:

A master painter was asked how long did this masterpiece take?

His answer: “43 years and 25 min

We keyed in on the 25 min as the 43 years is not about time but about the effort to learn. Combine this with the next story.

~~~ Throwing Clay ~~~

This story from the book Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland:

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.

His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”.

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work — and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

We use this same logic when building products. The advanced tools give us 45 years of experience and allow us to build a fully functioning product in 25 min. The product is then placed in the hands of the user who provides feedback allowing rapid iteration and evolution.

Key Point: We know fast iterations lead to superior products as opposed to long design cycles.

Breaking away from the traditional steps of a design sprint ( we blur them together to further reduce the development cycle in what we call “Building @ Speed of Thought”. This is only possible because of the modern tools available to developers&designers.

Three ways to solve any problem.

  1. Math — Solve the problem by mathematical modeling
  2. Transforms — Move to another space/dimension to solve, transfer back.
  3. *Prototype — Reasonable fast guess, feedback and iterate quickly.*

This comes from Tom Chi radical approach to prototyping …

With massive 3D printers we can build products at the speed of thought and use Data-Driven Ethnography to drive design.

Set up a 3D printer in a mall and keep evolving/iterating the product with real time feedback until people start buying it.

The core idea is having advanced tools to allow you to have even parity between the development cycle and user feedback.

Key Point: As development tools get better the design process can be accelerated.

Using Data-Driven Ethnography in Design Thinking.

  • The user journey is in the data.

Small decisions can have colossal effects on the growth or death of a mobile app and stimulate or threaten the entire business. As one game house discovered when for Valentine’s Day they changed the App Icon to pink and installs dropped by 20%. We combine Google (, Adobe (ADI) and Apple’s extensive user research and what the data has taught us about designing the best mobile experience to drive distribution and monetization in the context of micro-moments. We use an iterative method of Data-Driven Ethnography (sentiment analysis, user data science with A/B testing) to build empathy and solve major pain points, ensuring we are building the correct product.

The amount of data collected in real time about user behavior is changing how we learn from our users. No longer do we have to ask if the change is beneficial. Now we can do the change and measure the user response with real-time analytics. The user experience is in the data not surveys.

Your users are lying to you. Don’t listen to them.

5 Reasons When Respondents are Knowingly Dishonest:

Key Point: Designers of the future are going to work with data more than users.

Applied to Android.

We start by utilizing a design sprint to explore the power of mobile and how it fits into the market/problem we are trying to solve. Then focusing on the crucial step in a design sprint we build high fidelity prototypes in rapid succession utilizing the JetPack Android software components (UI, Behavior, Foundation, Architecture) to take full advantage of the Android platform.

We do this by leveraging the design features of Android Studio (material components / theme editor, constraint library, motion editor) along with open source/industry resources to build an intuitive and beautiful UI.

Once the UI framework is done we write the Kotlin application logic utilizing the Android Architecture Components with data binding connected to Firebase for the synchronized backend.

With our application finished we execute our strategy for marketing, distribution, and monetization guided by Data-Driven Ethnography (DDE) utilizing our data/analytics.





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Siamak (Ash) Ashrafi

Siamak (Ash) Ashrafi


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