The process of auditing your digital product’s working front-end code as it relates to the initial product design specifications.

When an architect designs and plans a home, they expect the finished product to exactly match the blueprints they have developed. If they don’t, you could end up with an uneven floor that might cause foundational issues down the road.

A style of low-fidelity design diagraming, used for exploring information architecture and the visual organization of page elements.

When organizing your garage, you might loosely assign areas of the space for certain types of tools or equipment. It’s a quick way to experiment with and visualize how users will experience a product and find the information they’re seeking.

A brand is a set of distinctive perceptions, ideas, and feelings that people have about your company and your digital product. These are formed through experiences with the business, your product’s user interface, advertisements, word of mouth, and many more avenues.

It’s helpful to think about brands like you think about people. Each person has a brand, or a set of behaviors, quirks, and characteristics you come to expect from them. And their brand – your idea of who that person is – evolves over time as you get to know them better, see them in new contexts, and learn more about their background.

A comprehensive guide that documents all elements of a company’s brand identity and demonstrates how they’re used to ensure consistency and clarity throughout the organization.

A brand guide is like an instruction manual. Its level of detail can vary based on the need and sophistication of the marketing apparatus, ranging from a 1-page quick reference guide to a 100+ page corporate brand standards guide.

A family of key, enduring visual elements that express the values and uniqueness of the business.

If each person has their own brand, their brand identity is the group of key visual attributes that make up their image. Their physical look, the way they dress, their haircut, tattoos, and the lifestyle image they portray are a few examples.

The actions a company takes to shape the way people think about it.

Most people, intentionally or not, curate an external image of how they wish to be seen and known. The clothes we wear, the restaurants we visit, the friends we associate with, the cars we drive, and the Instagram photos we share are all ways we curate our external image to the world.

The set of colors identified to represent your business that will be used consistently across all external-facing materials.

When you’re planning the interior design of your home, you may go to a hardware store and collect paint swatches that reflect the mood you want in a particular room. You may want your kitchen to have a lighter, joyous feel, so you might choose warmer colors. For a child’s room, you could select brighter, vibrant colors that wouldn’t be included elsewhere.

One or more high-fidelity mockups delivered in the early phases of product ideation. It depicts what problems the product will solve, how it might solve them today and in the future, and what the product will feel like to the end user. Concept designs are deeply impacted by user research and kick off the entire product design phase.

Just like an architectural drawing gives homeowners an idea of what their new home might look like and what materials will bring it to life, a concept design shows how a digital product might look and the important pieces going into its construction.

The attitudes, beliefs and philosophy surrounding the importance of design with regards to product, brand and marketing. Design culture isn’t relegated only to the design teams; it should be cultivated across all teams that have a role in helping your product succeed in market.

Organizations always have a predominant culture, but within the company there will be several overlapping cultures that guide smaller teams. Much like you can have a culture for a region, a state, a city, or even suburbs within a city, a design culture is a part of a larger culture but one that the product team must adopt.

A collection of common components, principles and page patterns that help scale an individual product design, and eventually scale more digital products.

Think of design systems like a glorified set of color swatches or design guidelines you would use to remodel your house. Rather than design every bedroom, you could define the color, door handles, and flooring for all bedrooms to save you time and ensure everything is consistent.

Any software-enabled product, such as an app, e-commerce site, software or service that provides value to its users.

We imagine you know what a digital product is by now, so this isn’t really an analogy. But here’s a thought: Think about how many digital products you use daily. Between work, personal affairs, entertainment, and more, you likely use many. Any time you order groceries, watch a video, or create a presentation at your job, you’re engaging with a digital product.

Research conducted on existing digital products to evaluate how they fit into a user’s life to help them accomplish their goals. Evaluative research uncovers a user’s goals, challenges, workarounds, and ideals for using a product in order to understand how the product can be improved.

Evaluative research is like the scientific method: You develop a hypothesis and test it to either confirm or disprove, and depending on the results, you make changes.

Research conducted on an existing process, industry, or user in order to develop insights that lead to product ideas, or to understand how a product idea could fit into a larger ecosystem. This research uncovers insights to inform the design of a digital product.

This would be like knowing you want to get your friend something special for their birthday, so you follow them around for a day and look for ways you could improve their life.

The process of narrowing down a high-level user pain point or product functionality to a specific set of requirements, necessary screens to design, and details around who should have access to the feature.

When you decide you want to replace the sink in your bathroom. You know the high-level idea of what you want to do, but you need to do feature definition before you actually replace the sink.

Feature definition is the process of asking questions like: What dimensions does the sink need to be? Do you want it to have cabinet space? Should the counter be granite or marble?

Once you have these questions answered, you can move forward with a clear plan.

The north star that guides all your positioning and messaging efforts. It needs to answer the question of what you do, who you do it for, and why it matters.

Just like the north star always stays due north, your foundational statement should serve as the guiding light that cements and stewards all outputs for your organization, whether that is marketing, sales, or something else.

Information architecture is the structure and hierarchy of data objects in a digital system, typically delivered in a written document to product engineers and web developers. Data in the hierarchy should be labeled and organized for scalability and efficiency.

In the same way you organize folders on your computer so that you can easily locate files, an information hierarchy informs how data is organized inside of your digital product to help users complete tasks.

The process of looking at what else is happening in the market in which your product lives or will live. This might include your product’s competitive landscape, the landscape of alternatives that the user works with, or the landscape of products that can serve as inspiration.

Using landscaping for inspiration is like using Pinterest or Houzz to look at what others have done with home design, or even to help you determine what you do not like, so you can determine your direction.

When a logo has multiple elements, such as an icon and a wordmark, a lockup is the exact arrangement of those elements or the relationship between them in a logo.

Think about the iconic Amazon logo. It includes multiple elements, including the wordmark that displays the company name and a yellow arrow pointing from “a” to “z.” These elements work together to form a lockup.

Also known as a mark or an icon, your logo is the visual identifier for the company or product in its simplest form.

If a person is a brand, their logo is their face. The face is usually the most distinctive visual characteristic that comes to mind when you think about them.

The external messages used to communicate the key benefits of your digital product in sales, marketing, or other channels.

Just like a fast food restaurant may have a slogan that quickly communicates their value in a catchy, compelling way, your messaging should take the benefits and value propositions that you defined through positioning and communicate those in a compelling way to your target market.

The first version of your digital product. MVPs include a focused feature set that aims to satisfy early adopters and allow the product to be tested in market.

Building a digital product is similar to building a home: They both come with constraints around time, resources, and money. The first step to take your high-level dream to a reality is planning your MVP. What are the must-haves before you can test your product in market, or move into your new home? You may not need the pool and patio before the moving truck rolls up, but the kitchen, bedrooms, and bathrooms need to be in working order.

A way to group and sell your product’s features in a logical, easy-to-understand framework based on the maximum value added to the buyer.

Similar to how a McDonald’s Happy Meal is built to appeal to a child’s appetite while the super-sized meal is for especially hungry customers, digital product packaging groups features in the ways that appeal to the needs and wants of different types of buyers.

A visual storybook of your business. Use it to tell a compelling story and provide your audience with a quick overview of your business vision, plan, and future.

Shark Tank, the popular TV show, shows great examples of founders pitching their business… only without the actual deck. The presenter typically tells a compelling story by covering the problem, the solution (their product or service), the team, the finances, how they’ll use the investment, and plans for future growth.

Product branding is the process of creating the distinctive perceptions, ideas and feelings that people have about your digital product. Your product’s brand is made up of all visual components that represent your company in the market.

A product brand team is like the interior designer giving your home a consistent, polished, beautiful visual identity. Just like some homes have a rustic feel while others may go more industrial, depending on the personality and goals of the homeowner, your product brand should represent your company in a consistent way that represents and achieves your product and business goals.

The design of any software-enabled product with special attention paid to solving the goals and needs of both the user and the business.

Product designers are like the architects and interior designers planning a home. They design how people will use it, how it will look, and the goals it will accomplish for the owner, while also making sure the realtor will be able to sell it for a premium and in an easy way.

A model of all your digital product’s features and modules in a logical structure based on the benefits provided to your users.

In the same way a retail store organizes its products into categories like sweaters, shirts, and pants, your digital product should have the same clear organizational structure for the modules and features of your product.

Product managers make sure that the features being built meet and support the overarching business goals of the company. They work cross-functionally to determine what to build, why it should be built, and when.

Working with a product manager is like working with someone to plan your custom dream home: You have a vision for what you want, but you also have a budget and a timeline influencing the construction process. Depending on your overarching goals for your home, you may prioritize an extra bedroom over a home gym. Product managers help with decisions like this, and much more, for digital products.

The blend of marketing, sales, communications, and technical digital product knowledge. Product marketers are responsible for goals like product brand strategy, product hierarchy, product packaging, and positioning.

Product marketers are like a realtor selling your home: They have comprehensive knowledge of every detail about the house, but they also know how to explain those details in a way that appeals to specific buyers’ wants and needs. When a realtor is showing you a house, they don’t tell you how many outlets the house has because those aren’t the details you care about. They know your priorities and will explain the house to you in a way that resonates.

A comprehensive refresh of a company’s product marketing functions, including product positioning and messaging, product hierarchy, packaging, and more.

Just like you might go on a shopping spree after you graduate college to make sure you have the right wardrobe for your first job, a new phase of your company’s life means that your product marketing—how you talk about, market, and sell your digital product—may need a “shopping spree” of its own.

The process of establishing the necessary foundation to create a consistent, repeatable, and differentiated way to talk about your digital product and the value it provides to your target buyers.

In the same way that you develop an elevator pitch to describe yourself in an interview, your product positioning should be a simple, repeatable, unique way to describe your product and its value.

A strategic, forward-looking document that visually maps out what will be built in your product over a span of time.

A roadmap is just like the name describes—a map that directs you down certain roads to get to your end destination.

Is it possible your end destination will change? Sure. Is it possible there will be traffic on a road that makes you take a different route instead? Absolutely.

Your product roadmap will need to change over time, but acts as a great visual to help you adjust as market conditions change. From there, you can build the right features for your digital product that support the goals of your business.

The second phase of the product design process where details around product functionality and interaction are designed and defined.

An architectural concept of a home might only show primary rooms in the house, like the kitchen, living room, or master suite. After the conceptual phase, the architect will use production design to define every single room in the house, from the laundry room to the coat closet.

A methodology for deriving quick insights during user research and delivering them as they’re learned to stakeholders, cutting down on the data analysis typically saved for the end of the research stage.

Progressive synthesis is like a reporter that’s live on the scene. Instead of rolling up a story, they’re giving you the updates and insights as they learn them.

When a new company name, brand identity, or visual language is created for an established company to change the way people think about it.

A rebrand is like a makeover. It’s time for a makeover when the way you present yourself doesn’t jive with the person you’ve become or the person you want to be. Done well, makeovers change the way your are seen and even change the way you see yourself.

A high-level view of all the modules and features that make up your digital product.

Think of a solution definition like a blueprint for building your new home. Ideally, you’d like to have a finished basement, a pool, an impressive patio, and a bonfire pit. Each project has its own details and requirements, but collectively, they form a master plan for how you envision your dream home.

Once you have this vision defined, you can break it into manageable parts and plan them over time.

An illustrated representation of the solution a company offers to the market. Solution visuals represent either a digital product, or a combination of product and services. They can include the benefits, modules, and features of a digital product.

Just like your history textbook may break down a set of complex facts into an easy-to-understand timeline, your solution visual takes your product’s features and benefits and presents them in an easy-to-understand visual that allows viewers to immediately see what using your product will do for them.

A single-page website, often no longer than the height of a computer screen. Your splash page is supposed to act as a placeholder for a full product site in order to establish credibility while your product or company is still in the early stages.

Just like a movie trailer teases what hasn’t yet been released, a splash page proves that your company or product is “real” and credible, and builds excitement for what’s to come.

The way typefaces (aka fonts) are used to express the values of your business.

Typography is like table manners: It’s rarely called out when done well, but painfully apparent when it doesn’t work.

The visual elements and interactions that make up a digital product.

Imagine you’re staying in a hotel. In the best situations, figuring out how the new space works is seamless. You intuitively know how to work the shower, and all of the outlets are within reach when working or resting because someone thought about your needs as a guest when building the room. Good UI design works the same way.

Praise or complaints given from users about your digital product and how effective the product is at solving their problems.

Like Yelp reviews, user feedback represents what your users have to share about the experiences, feelings, and thoughts they associate with your digital product. Sometimes, this means feedback might only consider the extremes—like a Yelp reviewer building their entire opinion of a restaurant from one bad visit.

The process of showing design mockups to prospects, users, or potential users to get feedback on design plans and overall direction from people that would actually use the product.

Imagine being able to test drive your kitchen redesign before you committed to it. You’d get to see whether you can reach all the cabinets and if the placement of the appliances fits the way you like to cook. You learn more from testing it out than you do from looking at pictures.

The summary of experiences and feelings a user has when navigating a digital product. User experience is made up of different parts that focus on understanding both the business goal and aligning it with the user needs.

Think about the feeling you get when you see a beautifully designed building. Well-designed digital products will elicit an emotional response as well, resulting in your satisfaction and convincing you to stop, stare, and use.

The process of making major design changes to a digital product based on findings from user research and customer feedback. Often necessary when the MVP or first iteration of the product was rushed, isn’t scalable, or was designed without the correct personas or usability in mind.

A couple of years after living in your new house, you notice that you are cooking much larger meals now that you have two kids. But when you built the kitchen you didn’t anticipate needing that much counter space. So, you renovate the old kitchen to accommodate—and while you’re at it, you knock down a wall so you can keep your eyes on the children playing in the living room as you cook.

The unique “alphabet” of design elements—such as shape, color, materials, photography, illustration, typography and composition—which directly and subliminally communicate a company’s values and personality through compelling imagery and design style.

A brand’s visual language is a lot like someone’s personal style. Do they dress expressively with high contrast patterns and bright colors, or more subdued with neutral tones and classic tapered lines? Their wardrobe of go-to pieces is like a brand’s visual language.

The written personality of your business. Voice is the way your company speaks, writes, and represents itself in all marketing efforts.

If you’re an avid reader, you likely name someone as your favorite author because you like the voice in which they write. Great writers are known for their voice: it’s distinctive, original, and in the best cases, unforgettable. The same applies to your company voice.

A wordmark is a type of logo. It identifies the company or product with a text-only treatment of its name, often with distinctive characteristics.

If a person is a brand, and their logo is their face, a wordmark is a type of face. The facial features may be rounder and softer, or they might be narrower and sharper.

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