You can now listen to the entire library of Design Better books for free

Kevin Herring
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For the first time ever, our complete Design Better library is available as audiobooks.

That means you can brush up on product design, design leadership, and design thinking and learn new skills while you commute, work out, or sit by the pool with a cold beverage in your hand.

The Design Better library has been assigned in the graduate curriculum for design and business programs at UC Berkeley, the University of Southern California, the University of Georgia, and Stanford University among other institutes.

You learn from industry leaders like Meredith Black of Pinterest, Dave Malouf (independent), Collin Whitehead of DropBox, and Kate Battles of FitBit in our DesignOps Handbook, Richard Banfield of InVision in Enterprise Design Sprints, and Jina Anne (founder of the Clarity conference), Katie Sylor-Miller of Etsy, Diana Mounter of GitHub, Marco Suarez (independent), and Roy Stanfield of Airbnb in our Design Systems Handbook.

In the spirit of the quickly approaching back-to-school season, we want to share some key ear-worthy lessons from our library, so you can learn and share new skills with your team.

These are some of our favorite lessons from our library on accessibility, the business value of animation, planning for design sprints, learning the language of design leadership, and more.

Lesson #1: Make your design system accessible

“The Web is fundamentally designed to work for all people, whatever their hardware, software, language, culture, location, or physical or mental ability. When the Web meets this goal, it is accessible to people with a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight, and cognitive ability.”

-W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)

Accessibility on the web has faced an uphill battle for many years. Seen as too complex and costly, it was often an afterthought, if implemented at all. But the practice of making your site and products more accessible for the estimated 15% of people worldwide with a wide spectrum of permanent or temporary visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive impairments have been gaining traction.

Accessible design makes for a better experience for everyone, has the added benefit of helping to improve SEO, and conforms to the legal standards that are increasingly common in countries worldwide.

Learn more about how to make sure your design system adheres to accessibility standards in the excerpt from Chapter Three, embedded below. Then find more fundamentals about building, deploying, and maintaining a design system, in the full version of our Design Systems Handbook.

Lesson #2: Capitalize on the business value of animation

“The more polish and personality we infuse, the more we see people responding to those qualitative metrics.” -Vicki Tan, Headspace

“Appeal” is one of the seven basic principles of animation that Apple Design Award winning designer and author Ryan McLeod discusses in the Animation Handbook. Not only can appeal serve as “the animated equivalent of branding” as Ryan says, but the character and appeal of a product can help bring users back for more, creating engagement that can be measured qualitatively (and financially).

The meditation app Headspace, for example, uses quirky, friendly animations to make the abstract concepts of mindfulness accessible, using metaphor and endearing characters to take the edge off of an activity that can feel daunting.

Learn about all seven principles of animation in the excerpt from Chapter Two below. Then go on to learn how motion provides context to users, the power of cross-functional collaboration and the opportunity to build motion into your design system, and more, in the full version of the Animation Handbook.

Lesson #3: Plan your sprint for success
“We meet with all the stakeholders to determine, is this the right business challenge to be taking on right now?”

-Kai Haley, Lead of Sprint Master Academy at Google

Design sprints are a great tool for solving challenges with ambiguous constraints, and for helping high-priority projects at large organizations build momentum. But if poorly planned, a design sprint can fail before it even leaves the starting blocks.

Richard Banfield, author of Enterprise Design Sprints says, “Getting prepared involves inviting the right people, finding a good place to work uninterrupted, having the right supplies and, most importantly, setting up customer interviews. These are all related but independent tasks, so it might be necessary to delegate to your team.” By their very nature, design sprints won’t work if only designers are taking part, so it’s important that key stakeholders are involved from the very beginning.

Learn all the right steps to take in planning your design sprint in Chapter Four below. Then, learn when to sprint, how to get senior buy-in and support, and more in the full version of Enterprise Design Sprints.

Lesson #3: Why DesignOps matters

“DesignOps is everything that supports high quality crafts, methods, and processes.”

-Dave Malouf, IXDA DesignOps Summit

DesignOps is a relative newcomer to the world of digital product design, at least in name. In agencies, the role of “producer” has been established for at least a few decades, which in turn evolved from the producer role in filmmaking. As Collin Whitehead (Head of Brand Studio and UX Writing at Dropbox, and one of the authors of our DesignOps Handbook) says, producers “maintain the creative integrity of a director’s vision while working to coordinate large teams against tight timelines and budgets.”

Now, in digital product design, DesignOps teams, which often include producers, are responsible for the tools, infrastructure, workflow, people, and governance within an organization. As design becomes increasingly crucial to the success of a business, DesignOps teams are becoming a critical part of scaling design teams successfully.

Learn more about the definition of DesignOps in the excerpt from Chapter One below. Then learn how to structure a DesignOps team, put it into play, and coordinate between teams in the full version of the DesignOps Handbook.

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