Coding Creativity 03: Redesigning About.me with Jeff Veen

Jeff Veen is the Design Partner at True Ventures and advisor to about.me, Medium, and WordPress. In this episode we talk with him about re-imagining applications.

Some notes from our conversation

In a previous life, Jeff reimagined Google Analytics along with the team from Urchin.

On going to True Ventures:

Design isn’t risky — change is. Good design mitigates that risk.
The way you get to where you want to get, is through relentless subtraction.

About.me was acquired by AOL w/in days of originally launching. Later the team had the opportunity to buy it back. Jeff had some great thoughts on how to handle making big changes to products:

I don’t have any great wisdom other than: you sit with people in rooms, and you talk it through, which is mostly an emotional thing, you try to respectful, do a lot of consensus building, but retain strong conviction.
Simply having a better User Experience is not enough [to have a good business]… but if you take two equally strong businesses, the one with a better UX will be more competitive today.

On building products for the enterprise:

Enterprise software means nothing. It is just ‘consumers at work.’ They want the same great experiences in the enterprise they have in apps.

Many great product people, e.g. Erika Hall, Erin Kissane, Caterina Fake, Stewart Butterfield, Dan Saffer, Tom Coates, and Tim O’Reilly come from a liberal arts background.

Web 2.0 as the revenge of the liberal arts major:

It’s called the humanities for a reason.
Design is storytelling. It’s just a different set of primitives we use to tell the stories.

Next, Jeff will focus more broadly across True’s portfolio of 200+ companies, doing product and culture mentoring. He is always on the lookout for great companies to invest in.

Intro/outro music by Harley McKee

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