Designer’s Field Guide

And what you can do about them

This I believe:

Successful products succeed uniquely but failed products all fail for the same reasons.

In this post I’ll describe the 5 most common product strategy fails I’ve encountered and what I’ve learned to do when I see them coming.

1. The Top Down Fail

When the Hollywood film is made about the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal


Designer’s Field Guide

Best practices for presenting numbers that change with time

Photo of control panel by sergey Svechnikov on Unsplash

Change over Time

Technical people monitor metrics — numbers that report change over time — to keep systems running smoothly. This is not news.

What is news is that as streams of data continue flow into and alter every aspect of modern life, UX designers are increasingly being asked to create experiences anyone


Instinct and the Corona Virus

Yesterday evening I went for an urban hike in San Francisco.

I do that a lot, and have for years.

Yesterday’s hike was different. Really different. The trails, stairs, and open spaces I usually have nearly to myself were crowded like I have never seen them before.

Hikers, couples, families…


Designer’s Field Guide

4 things you have to know

Man and woman working with IBM type 704 electronic data processing machine.

So, you want to design developer experiences?

Awesome! Your timing is great. The employment picture is bright for folks who know how to create products for programmatic or declarative developers. Your first step is to develop empathy for these people by learning what it is like to spend your working life inside a computer.

Inside a computer…


How to speak precisely and unambiguously about data with technical people

Learning to speak data

In 2001 the fallout from the dot com bust was making it hard to find software development work anywhere in the Bay Area. …


Designer’s Field Guide

When design, business and technology define product strategy together as partners, success is a certain outcome.

First of all, my definition of works:

1. Build great products

2. Everyone involved has fun doing it.

How do you do this?

A partnership of business, design and engineering.

The partnership has 2 rules:

A partner can require either an outcome or a schedule from another partner. One or the other, never both at the same time.

A partner may not ever, under any circumstances, require…


Here is how I got mine.

In April 1992 I returned from living in Barcelona and got my first real job after design school with MenloCare, a medical products start up. My time there was effectively an apprenticeship that enabled me to grow from a green design grad to a (semi-)seasoned product designer. …


Designer’s Field Guide

Use these models to get your entire team on the same page about what you are building

The Problem is Translation

Years ago while traveling in India I bought an inexpensive English translation of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. I was excited to read this famous piece of Russian literature but after slogging my way through it, I was not impressed and couldn’t understand why it was so revered. The answer, it…


A story about making.

This space in my house could be nicer:

Along came an idea.


A: Enough to reduce risk to your comfort level.

Here is an example.

I was negotiating a temporary contract with a unicorn and was asked to provide my hourly rate.

My gut feeling was I could ask $150 but I wasn’t sure. My negotiating strategy is to open at the top of a reasonable range, but I also know…

Tim Sheiner

System thinker, story teller, designer, husband, father of 3, San Franciscan, Bernal Heights neighbor

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store