By Design

Fonz Morris says the best products are constantly being refined

Episode Summary

In Design, refinement is constant. As you move through the process, you’re sharpening your understanding of the problem and subsequently the solutions you devise. Throughout his time at companies like MyArtistDNA, Coursera, and now at Netflix as Lead Product Designer for Global Conversion, Fonz Morris brings a mindset of constant improvement to his work. He says that teams that collaborate throughout the entire process are much more likely to put themselves in the customer’s shoes and start iterating from the very beginning. He also dispels the misconception that data can limit creativity, instead he believes that it allows teams to gauge success in service of refinement.

Episode Notes

Lead Product Designer for Global Conversion at Netflix Fonz Morris brings a mindset of constant improvement to his work. He says that teams that collaborate throughout the entire process are much more likely to put themselves in the customer’s shoes and start iterating from the very beginning. He also dispels the misconception that data can limit creativity, instead he believes that it allows teams to gauge success in service of refinement. 

Episode Transcription

Josh: Welcome to By Design, a show about the process of designing exceptional digital experiences. I'm your host Josh Brewer. And in this series, we will look at the different stages in the lifecycle of designing digital products. Each week, we'll hear from experts with an intimate understanding of what particular stage what has, and hasn't worked for them and how we might all apply these insights in order to shape a better future for design.

Josh: Refinement, the word itself evokes images of quality and beauty. Of elegance even. In design refinement is something that you're almost always doing. Even in the exploration phase we talked about in episode two, you realize that there's refining it happening in your subconscious, as you generate as many different solutions as possible, each one, sharpening your understanding of the problem and subsequently the solutions you devise.

And teams that can create an idea together where nobody's surprised and everyone has input from the beginning are much more likely to put themselves in the customer's shoes and start iterating, refining from the very beginning. As Fonz Morris says, there should be a Ray of sunshine following you the whole life cycle, always asking, is this the best it can be?

Could it be any better? Fonz has brought this kind of thinking to his roles at companies like my artists DNA, a company he co-founded, Coursera, and now at Netflix as lead product designer for global conversion, his empathy for the customer is paired with his love for data, which Fonz asserts doesn't limit creativity at all.

And instead allows the team to gauge whether something is a success or not. It's all learning in service of refining the product. Fonz is relentless in his pursuit of the best experience for the customer and says there's nothing wrong with being a little technical, especially when it means greater collaboration with engineers. From his passion for sneakers to envisioning a future with a lot more user empathy, because brands finally understand that users have the power, this conversation is full of laughter and wisdom. 

So let's dive in. All right. Super excited here. Start us off by telling me a little bit about yourself. 

Fonz: Sure. Really excited to be here, Josh. Thanks for the opportunity. And I'm one of the lead product designers on global conversion that Netflix. So that's technically the growth team.

I'm in the non-member space where I focus on trying to actually convert non-paying subscribers or subscribers that may be pause their membership or something converting them back to becoming paid subscribers. So that 200 million paid subscriber monument that we just hit, that was a big moment for my team, but I've been in design for almost, I always get this number confused somewhere like 17, 18 years now, in and out of entrepreneurship and corporate America, as well as doing tons of freelancing and now doing advising with other startups and mentoring designers and things like that.

So I'm all over the place, but I'm a designer, definitely. definitely at heart. 

Josh: That's fantastic. Um, do you have a hobby or a practice outside of design that keeps you engaged? Keeps you energized? 

Fonz: Yeah, for sure. Hobbies are fun. If you get really good at a hobby, it could potentially turn into a small business and you need as much, not as much, but you need some kind of distraction now to separate work and home and just get a little break. So I would say two of my favorite hobbies are one collecting sneakers. I've been collecting sneakers pretty much my whole life. I even called myself retiring in 2018. I came out of retirement in 2020. So I'm back. 

Josh: What brought you out? What brought you out of retirement on the shoe collection front? 

Fonz: To be honest with you, I just love sneakers and, and I quit because I didn't want to pay the retail price and I didn't want to do the work. It took to get the sneakers. Before resale, meaning trying to get bots or getting online. And it was just too cumbersome to get sneakers.

So I just got kind of frustrated and I quit. But once I realized that I do love sneakers, so many new great brands and styles always keep coming out. I just, I just couldn't stay away, man. 

Josh: That's fantastic. I'm curious. Have you ever thought about designing your own sneakers? 

Fonz: Yes, I do have a pair of Fonz Monies, actually, they are high top dunks. They have Fonz Monies on the side. They're gray and purple really, really amazing pants. So, yes, I thought about that, but it takes a lot to make sneakers. As far as you need access to way a factory in China, most of the time supplies you have to buy large amounts. So it gets a little tricky. I've had dreams of it, but it just takes a lot of work to get into that industry.

Josh: For sure. If there's anyone from Nike, who's listening to this podcast. You can hit Fonz up because I'm pretty, I'm pretty sure he's up for a conversation.

Fonz: Thank you, Josh. If they hit me up, I will definitely make sure to try to get you a pair as well. 

Josh: I would gladly, gladly take a pair. Let's uh, let's go to another question. Do you have, uh, something absurd, um, that you love doing? 

Fonz: I love personal finance and I love investing. So I spend any time I'm not working for Netflix or I'm mentoring, I'm reading about crypto. I'm reading about stocks. I've literally taught myself how to become a day trader. I've taught myself all the terminology of options and calls and puts, and I'm all into the whole crypto Bitcoin or Ethereum Cardono right now. I think I may have like 25 or 30 coins in my wallet. So I'm just out here trying to learn and see, I just don't want to miss the wave. You know what I mean? 

Josh: I do, I do it. And it's interesting, there's a handful of folks that I knew that were early in the crypto space. And I kick myself repeatedly. 

Fonz: Everybody wants to be one of them. 

Josh: Even even way back, I had a hunch that it, it longterm, it made a ton of sense at that point, you know, with a wife and kids at home and everything, I was like, well, I gotta, I gotta pay the mortgage.

Fonz: You can’t really juggle money as much once the responsibilities kick in. You know what I mean? So even if you did know about Bitcoin back then, Were you still gonna drop $9,000 because it was only 250 a coin? No.

Josh: It is an interesting space. I think anybody who is interested in, to your point, personal finance, or even maybe where we're going globally, our generation, but for sure, the ones younger than us, I think it's actually a thing that we need to pay attention to.

Fonz: It's the future. Really? It really is. It's the future. If I can say anything about this whole space is, the audience that's listening. If it's two major things that you should really try to understand, this is the concept of something being centralized versus something being de-centralized and that's the future of crypto.

And that's why it's so important because it's being built on top of this idea of things, not having to be centralized and that gives us control. That gives us the freedom. And then when you piggyback on top of that same ideology, now you have NFTs, where for the first time, and I'm super excited about NFTs because this is a great segue into who I am. My first, first product that I ever considered myself really building was my first startup, which was a content management system for independent artists to try to learn ways to monetize their brand. I was heavy in the entertainment space. I had a lot of friends that were rappers and artists and videographers and creators, but they didn't know how to make money.

So, because I was the only one who had a lot of experience on the web, that's how I was able to get started. So fast forward now to where we are, we're NFTs a lot of these same artists. If these NFTs was around then, or hopefully I can communicate to these same artists now. Now is the chance for you to be able to really monetize and own your content on the web in a way that hasn't been done before.

Hopefully, as many people can try to understand the concept of any of NFTs, because there really aren't a rule to them. You just need to be able to create that artwork and hopefully you have people who find value in your work and you can make money from it. So it's a game changer. I don't want to go too far off, but I just think the whole space of crypto was really interesting and I spent hours a day on it.

That's what I would say is my absurd, is how much time I spent reading and looking at. Crypto. 


Josh: What's cool about that is what I hear is somebody who is interested in educating themselves. 

Fonz: Yes. Yes. I'm a lifelong learner. It requires you to be on top of stuff. 

Josh: So we're talking about the design life cycle here on this podcast. And we're talking about the refinement phase. Some folks might call this iteration. I like refinement because it usually really implies an existing product and existing service that you're responsible for improving and refining. And so when we talk about this phase in the context of the design life cycle, what comes to mind for you?

Fonz: Well, what I think about with refinement is a lot of different things. One, because I'm a growth designer, pretty much, I'm always straddling in this space that you're in. I'm always trying to really figure out what's best for the business and what's best for the user, as opposed to, I would say, I think in the beginning stages of my career, I was more focused on what was best for me as far as I wanted to make designs that made me feel good and make people say, wow Fonz, you're such a good designer.

And then after that, I went to the phase of. I should probably be making sure that the user is happy with this, not just that this looks good. And then my most recent phases. Well, I should make sure that the business is making money and they're good. And then the user is good. And then if I'm good, I guess that's okay.

But I'm kind of third in this right now. So I'm always thinking of ways to make something better. I think that's one of the amazing phrases somebody told me a long time ago is that you can always do better. And that's how I attack my problems most of the time, it's trying to get a fully understanding of what's going on because I think by getting a clear understanding of where we are and what that problem is, I can do a better job of coming up with a solution.

And sometimes that solution in the refinement stays may be a small tweak. It doesn't have to be a whole bunch of different tweaks all the time. 

Josh: There's a lot of maturity in what you just shared. And I appreciate the candor because for a lot of young designers starting out, there's an identity attachment to being a designer. Right. And you know, whether you want to call that ego or whatever it is, there is identity wrapped up in, I am a designer. And what I create is a direct reflection of me as a person. 

Fonz: Right. Right. So if you don't like that, then you don't like me and that's totally not true. But when you're getting started in your career, that's what you're thinking Design is. It's about the craft only. And if people don't agree with your craft and they must have a problem with you, so that's a common thought process or feeling for designers, but like you said, as you mature in your career, hopefully you're able to take the emotion out of the design. Not a hundred percent, because I would want you to design what emotion, but the feedback. You don't take the feedback personally. 

Josh: That's right. It's interesting. Because to connect it to feedback, you were saying how many different iterations you will do and test in order to say, okay, we've done a broad enough exploration and we can now confidently say, this is our best bet. This is the thing we have the most confidence in.

And, and it's, it's interesting, uh, talking to a few of the other folks on the podcast so far, this idea, it, you know, it design is not linear that's for sure. Uh, it's a lot of loops and, um, and I think even at this stage that you're describing, there's a, there's an opportunity to take that ego out of the equation and say, I don't know if I have the best thing, right.

Fonz: I mean, Josh, I gotta be honest with you. Like at Netflix, I'm really doesn't even help, like having an ego at Netflix doesn't help at all. We prefer to really try to build the best experience for our customers. 

Josh: Yeah. And that customer focus, it keeps coming up for me. It's come up for me in for sure. The last 10,12 years of my career.The customer or the user being at the center of how you're thinking and, and understanding what they're dealing with. I'm just convinced that it's how you build great products. 

Fonz: I am all about user empathy, Josh. That's what I tell all my mentees. That's what I say at any speaking engagement. I'm like, man, I hope you're not designing this just for yourself.

And that's another reason why I love working at a company like Netflix because we take user research extremely serious. You saw, I tweeted out last week for one project. We did. Almost eight days worth of calls. We had to talk to people in the United... and these are eight hour days. We had to talk to people from the United States.

And I talk to people from Argentina. We had to talk to people from Australia, Thailand, France, and this is all to make sure that we have a true understanding of what people are thinking when you're working at a company, the size of Netflix with the broad global reach that our customers are, you really are better off trying to really put yourself in them, in their shoes.

Communicate with them, really understand what their problems are because it's easy for us to get to me. I want to say blind blinded out here in Silicon Valley we're out here at home working, but when you think about who we're designing for, these are people all over the world. So it's best for you to try to put yourself in their shoes, to try to understand their problems so that you can solve their problems.

And then that would make them want to stay with your platform or renew or tell a friend or something of that nature. But without the user empathy, that customer is probably going to fall off, down the line somewhere. 

Josh: Yeah. And I would be inclined to say that the likelihood of re-engaging them is also decreased, right? Like the degree to which you keep them front and center increases your likelihood of both retention and then maybe reactivation down the road. Should they? 

Fonz: Yeah, it's just good UX man. Like, honestly, that's just a good user experience, man. 

Josh:Yeah. I'm in a. Take it in a little bit of a different direction and just ask, you know, when you think about this phase, what are some common misconceptions that, that might come to mind?

Fonz: Okay. So there's a few misconceptions as far as depending on what company you're working at, depends on their style, their culture. I'm working on one project, got Netflix. That's been about two years in the making and we just finally rolled out. I'm working on another project that we were able to come up with the idea, get it designed and built in about two months.

So the time of refinement on the ladder, we haven't even really had that much time to do any refinement for the first project, we've been constantly tweaking in. We got to the last, the last phase and made a major refinement piece change. And it was so smart though. It was, so it was so smart. It was actually suggested by an engineer it's saved us time. It saved us money. It made the piece more inclusive, more scalable, and to think about it. Another misconception is I'm always reevaluating my ideas, even if I suggested it Monday. And I was like, this is the best idea I've ever had after that. I'm still thinking, is this still the best idea? Could I make this idea any better?

So with that said, I think refinement comes from the minute an idea is birthed. Until forever of it, because it's probably going to keep going. So you should be constantly trying to find ways to make this idea better, more efficient. And I think that's what refinement is, is when you're trying to, well, the actual definition is to take impurities out of something, right.

Because I'm sure if you thought about it a little more, it could probably get a little better. So I would say that's my one misconception I think people have is that you have to finish and then iterate and it's like, no, you should be iterating from the beginning. 

Josh: No, I definitely agree with that. And I do think once something is shipped and it's out in the wild, it almost exposes the edges or some of the cracks. Once it shipped, right? Like then you have data. And so some of the best teams I've worked with and best engineers that I can think of, tend to kind of have that in their head at all times. Can we make this faster? And those aren't necessarily things that as designers, we're going to be the ones calling out, but I'd argue that we've got as much opportunity, you know, to point out these areas to explore and refine as the product manager. 

Fonz: Even though maybe you're not a UI engineer where you don't touch the code at all, though, load time still affects the bigger UX and UX is your responsibility. So you should be. So all my designers that's listening on, on the podcast, there's nothing wrong with being a little technical. 

Josh: Absolutely. For me, I've found that the constraints, the understanding of the, the technology, they actually are part of my toolkit. It helps me sharpen my thinking and how I'm approaching something. 

Fonz: And build a better product. 

Josh: Yeah, absolutely. You, you could spend a inordinate amount of time going down a rabbit hole that. As soon as an engineer looks at it, they're going to say, look, you just added like eight weeks because this doesn't exist yet. There's no API for it. 

Fonz: You have to share early. 

Josh: You have to share early. I also think that that group, you identified product, design, engineering. That is the group of people who are really designing. The experience right there, there may even be a few other inputs in other places, but when you really look at that group of people, everyone's making decisions that affect the, the user and the user experience, you know, the engineer is absolutely making design decisions.

I know what it feels like when you're in that zone with those people together, it is it's us. It's not me, it's we? Right. And, and it is a collective design endeavor. And so to refine something together 

Fonz: And it's inclusive if you think about it, because you would want your design to have. PM influence. You would want him to have engineering influence. You would want it to have data science, content design, all of this input. Why would, why not? If you don't then when you go do your idea and you present it back to the team, they're going to give you their feedback then which may end up changing the whole project, where you could have involved them earlier.

They're your teammates. They're like your family. So I prefer to share my stuff early and get feedback. So, because once I start running, I'm running, I don't want to start running and then get slowed down because I didn't communicate the right way to my team, what I was trying to do. 

Josh: That's fantastic. It, you, I think you may have actually just answered my next question, which was going to be in your experience, what contributes to this phase being successful and you just laid out one of the...

Fonz: Communication, inclusion. 

Josh: Bringing in as many inputs as possible, as early as possible, right? 

Fonz: Yup. Collaboration, lots of cross team collaboration. I do more cross team collaboration. I Netflix now than I think I've ever done in any position before. That's because there's a lot of specialists at Netflix and there's a lot of like, it's a very complicated company as far as all the different puzzle pieces that go together. So luckily, but because of that, I get to work with whether you think of audio engineers to data scientists, content, localization, all of these different people. And we all work together to make the best products. And that's why Netflix is known for having such good UX because we all work together as a team.

Josh: I love hearing that. Do you think that the size or stage of the company has a direct impact on, on that particularly. 

Fonz: Yes. Yes. I would say so, but I'm not. And I'm glad you sent these questions over because I wanted to be able to have a second to think about them. Don't get me wrong. I don't mind freestyling my answers, but for certain questions, I would rather have some clarity with my response.

So, so the reason I'm saying that is, is because I want to answer this question in a positive light, as opposed to saying oh, well, you can only do certain things that big companies and small companies you can, it's more of the priorities are different. At certain companies at a smaller company, you probably grind them, man. You're trying to get stuff out the door. You learn it from, from the result of getting it out the door. You don't even have time to wait to, to say, well, let's do a bunch of A/B tests and see, and then more user research and this'll take us maybe eight, nine months a startup doesn't have that kind of runway where a bigger organization, this feature is probably not going to make or break the company.

And we have more time. So I would say at a bigger company, that's not even always guaranteed though, because depending on what team you're running in, depending on the priority or the size of the project, the organization, your team, you may not feel the need to. Iterate on something a bunch of times. So I would say it's very, not just situational because of the size of the company. I would say it's situational because of this, the scope of the project, as well as the priority of the project. 

If this is a bigger piece that you know is going to be a stable for the company, you're probably going to find time to iterate on it. You'll have a longer time span of to get things done. If this is the gig, like, uh, get this out the door, fast type of project, or just a testing to see what's going on, you may not spend as much time on that phase. And, and I think that goes for small, mid or large cap company. 

Josh: Yeah. I would agree with that. And I do think that even in, in some of the larger organizations where the culture is oriented in this way, because let's be real, there are plenty of large corporations out there that are not putting the user at the center and design isn't really, um, it's, it's important, but maybe doesn't have the influence or the, um, ability to lead that. Some, I mean, Netflix is a great example. There's dozens of really kind of global core companies at this point that you can point to their design.

Fonz: Like Stripe Stripe has fantastic design. Robinhood has fantastic design. There are definitely some companies out there that, you know, they put a lot of energy into their design, like Pinterest and Apple. And those are companies where like Airbnb as well. But what's interesting is, is, is you can also look at who the founders of those companies are and you'll see, see, sometimes they have a design background, like the founders of Airbnb, they have a design background as well. The same thing at Robinhood. So it's not a thing of, we have to convince the company to care about design. You got one of the original stakeholders vested in design, which means now they're going to carry this culture for the existence of the company. So that's the difference between when you're an engineering focused company. And you're trying to now incorporate design where you were worried about design from the beginning. 

Josh: Speaking as a designer turned founder, I could not agree more with you. What did, what role does data play in this phase?

Fonz: I love it. I love data, man. That's so funny to say that, because once again, a couple of years ago, I was like, man, I ain't worried about no data at the time. For, for, for, for me. I don't have time to worry about all these numbers and let it numbers control. I don't let numbers control my design. And now when I think about it, it's, data's my friend data allows me to stay on track and let me know if I'm moving the right way or if I need to make some changes. We incorporate data into our process. By when we do an experiment, we break the experiment up. 

Okay. First we come up with a hypothesis and based off that hypothesis, that's what we're going to test. And with those, and with that test, we have individual cells inside of that test. So there'll be like, cell one through six.

Each cell is a different iteration versus control, which is cell one, which is what's currently live in production. So by having those six cells, when we start to get the data back from the data scientists, we can see, okay, which one of these cells are working and which ones are not. And we can stop. We just had a test running this week that we were getting massive load numbers on there. And we were able to immediately jump in and I worked with the front end engineer to try to figure out what was wrong with this UX, because it felt like there was a lot of customer drop off and it was a UX issue. We wouldn't have known that if we didn't, if we weren't able to pull data so quickly.

So instead of us having to leave this test running for two months, and then we get this super low number two months from now, because we were able to allocate a lot of users into the test. We were able to find out within the first two days, hold on a second, something's not right here. Let's stop this cell. Let's figure this out and restart the test again. So data is the resource for us, honestly, I would say. 

Josh: That's fantastic. I was, I was going to add on, I think data is, it keeps you honest. In my experience, that's been, the reality is like, it's really hard to argue with that. Now there are times..

Fonz: Jay Z said said it, men lie, men lie, women lie numbers. Don't uh, true words. 

Josh: And the downside to the numbers is that you can kind of make them tell the story that you want. If you're, if you're good enough at it, but that is a separate conversation, right? 

Fonz: Don't cook the books. 

Josh: Well, you know, you can highlight a certain number and kind of like rock you skated another one to support or conclusions.

Fonz: Yeah. Yes, that is very true. Very true, sir, that, and then the other piece that I think is important in this process, I mean, uh, as you were talking, you know, running multiple tests so that you can try to understand which solution is the most optimal, uh, is I think really powerful and really valuable. I, I do think that one of the things I've heard designers, uh, be fearful about.

I know there's been points in my career where I definitely was concerned, uh, was about the way that the testing was being done. Was it really clean or were, were we actually testing three things in the same test? 

Fonz: Let me say this Josh. I hate to cut you off. The data scientists that I work with at ad Netflix are so sharp. They don't let none of that slot through the cracks. Once we present our tests, we got a data scientist on my team. If she heard me talking about her, she'd probably blush right now. She catches all that. She's like, hold on a second. Hold on a second. You got too many bearings. Yes. So now, if this wins, you wouldn't really be able to say, would it be this?

 Or what did that? So it's like, she comes through as the equalizer and she's constantly letting us know you can't do those that, that many different things variations. It's not going to be clean results. It's like, she's always trying to make sure that the numbers that we get back are clean. So I do agree with you on that, but.

 Big shout out to all of the data scientists that's listening to right now. And that's another reason why designers, you should also try to learn a little bit about data science as well, because you are right Josh. If you try to screw me. Squeeze too many things into a test. You won't really be able to know what was that true lever?

Was it the blue button? Was it the copy text? Was it that we made the page longer? Was it that we took something out and if you're testing, you're, you're really trying to find out what was that one thing that worked so you can scale it and use it again. But if you've got four different things and you can't guess that doesn't really help you. 

Josh: I am in so much agreement with that and I I'm hoping that folks who are hearing this, uh, maybe you're on a team that doesn't have any data scientists, maybe you're at a startup. And the idea of having data is like somewhere down the road. Uh, and only if we, you know, only if we exist in a year from now.

The thing I will, uh, advocate is try to get any data. You can literally showing some, showing something to your family members and like just clean, no context. Just let them look and respond is still better than nothing. Right? Putting it in front of a low fidelity prototype or even paper prototyping, any of those things, right?

Like I'd rather do that with a handful of people than not. And so to, to the folks listening, um, regardless of the scale, um, and your access to these resources, that data is critical in helping you refine your own thinking. It's actually also developing your, um, your intuition and your instinct as a designer.

The more data you bring in the sharper you get in being able to make crisp decisions. You know, you've seen enough things enough times to know that. So I appreciate it. 

Fonz: Great point. And then there's just this one last thing I want to add to that is even if you are a smaller company, you can still use an organization like usertesting.com, where you can put your prototypes up there and get some qualitative feedback for something.

Or if you have enough, To run like enough users to run, maybe a small test to get some quantitative data back, but guess get some data from somewhere. Either it gets them emotional data, which would be more qualitative or get some straight up hardcore numbers that would be quantitative, but to be moving with no data in 2021, I would say is that you're probably doing give yourself a disservice. So figure out where to get the data from somewhere. 

Josh: That's fantastic. Great advice from Fonz. Okay. Let's do a little bit of future casting. Let's, let's look out five years from now and the context of the design life cycle, and specifically this phase of, of refinement. What do you think the future looks like? What, what would you hope to see five years from now?

Fonz: Pretty much what I said before is happening all the time. We're getting better and better products. Companies that are super focused on user empathy. So there's a lot more refinement because they actually, because now these companies care more about, well, not caring or actually I'm going to rephrase this.

I think you're going to see, I mean, if you just look at a lot of the apps that are on your phone, you can see the UX in these ads, I've gotten better and better over the last five years. So in the next five years with the way the technology is growing on smart devices and the different languages are growing.

Josh: That is exactly right. And those are very concise, clear words, I hope every entrepreneur out there who happens to listen to this, takes that one to heart. Uh, if you don't have a designer on your, on your team, yet, you can be that person. You don't have to have the design background to care about the user.

Fonz: dDesign thinking, right? User empathy, design, thinking that stuff that you can. Teach yourself over time, if you're interested in it. And if you want to make a good product, it's not about the money. If you notice, I really haven't focused on the money that much anymore. I did when I was younger. Now that I'm older, the money will come.

If you build a good product, the money will come in. But now you gotta be honest with What is the definition of a good product? Is it a good product to you or is it a straight up good product? Cause I don't think you've seen good products, not make it. Most of the time a good product is going to make it.

Now you see a bunch of bad products and I make it, I think that's pretty obvious. 

Josh: I've heard a counter-argument to that and I I'm, I'm a little hesitant to go here, but we'll, we'll try this on Craigslist. Is like the Seminole example that I have had people use where they're like, yeah, but Craigslist is not well-designed and look at how much money it made.

And I do think that there's this notion that it needs to be beautiful. In order for it to be useful and, you know, to work and to be successful, ultimately, as a designer, I just like the things I use to be a little bit more pleasing and so definitely biased. But what do you think about that? What do you think about the successes that are quote unquote not well-designed, you know, or not as well-designed.

I understand that, man. I can tell you a bunch of stuff that's designed that don't work. I can tell you some great job design that work. So one, I agree with the Craigslist thing, right? I get it Craigslist. It does not look good. Sometimes the website is kind of weird and things of that nature, but you know what it solves the problem. It was supposed to create like classified. Nobody ever said classified had to be beautiful. When it comes to what Craigslist is supposed to do. It does it. Now, if you want to add design into there, that's fine, but that's not the basis of Craigslist.

So I agree with them that If you stay focused and, but see Craigslist is a great example of a company that stayed focused. They knew we didn't need to update our UI. They knew what they had was working, but you know, the best, one of all time, which we all know that's Google. We all know Google is the best UI in the history of UI.

It is still literally just a form field. With a search button, 25 years later, trillions of dollars later, it is still the same design. Why? Because it works. Simplicity does work sometimes. So beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I do think there's some, and then like, I hate to throw Nike under the bus cause I was just bigging them up earlier.

Nike has an app called the sneakers app. It looks great, but you know what? It's a trash app. Everybody knows it. It's super hard to win. Nobody knows what's going on. There's a lot of false to it, but it looks good. It has great pictures, uh, all of this amazing thing, but it doesn't work the way the user would want. So is it a good idea? I don't know. 

Josh: I love that, simplicity does work sometimes. All right, Fonz. 

Fonz: Thanks for being with us today. Thanks for having me, Josh.

Josh: Thanks for listening to By Design and original podcast by abstract. This episode was produced by Alison Harshbarger and Olivia Rheingold. Join us next time. As we continue our journey through the life cycle of designing exceptional digital products, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

If you liked what you heard, please recommend us to a friend and rate and review on Apple podcasts. For more design content and information about what we're working on. Please visit abstract.com. I'm your host, Josh Brewer. Be kind to yourself and take care of each other.