I’ve been reading through Sprint. I remembered how much I enjoy reading things by the Google Ventures design team.

Book notes were the most valuable thing from this 100 Posts, 100 Days project.

  • Writing notes helped me think through what I learned from each book I read.

  • Notes gave me some built-in structure to follow. It was easier to get going on these posts.

  • Books provide thoughts from authors who have much more expertise on topics. I can pass on their knowledge as I learn to develop my own ideas.

I want to take my book notes posts a step further—with my own thoughts being a little deeper and with some designed layouts to make them more fun to read through. I was inspired by an answer in the Wait But Why mailbag:

5) While you’re experimenting with your writing, keep your mind open to all creative possibilities. The first 290 of the 300 blog posts I wrote in my 20s had no visuals. Only towards the very end did I try drawing something one night. And only then did I realize how much I liked combining hand-drawn visuals with my writing. That could have easily never happened, and if it hadn’t, Wait But Why would be an all-text blog today.

I’ll start with some kind of prototype. There’s a section in Sprint going over examples of different prototypes. Many aren’t constrained to a screen.

  1. You Can Prototype Anything

This statement might sound corny, but here it is. You have to believe.

At orientation at one of my old jobs, we were shown a 60 Minutes segment from 1999. It highlighted the design process at IDEO and how they prototyped a better shopping cart. A lot of ideas in Sprint have roots in IDEO and Stanford’s d.school. Reading through the case studies of design sprints reminded me of something I read in Bill Buxton’s Sketching User Experiences:

It is much easier, cheaper, faster, and more reliable to find a little old man, a microphone, and some loud speakers than it is to find a real wizard. So it is with most systems. Fake it before you build it.

Buxton expands this to a chapter called “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”. He provides examples of prototypes going beyond digital prototypes on screen. One example involves a giant cardboard screen with people playing out a potential video.

Any of my success with writing things online started with this post about a personal design sprint (2014). Thousands of people read it. Not billions, or even millions, but it’s still cool to me. I’ll be thinking more about why that post was successful. A lot was luck (Jake Knapp shared it then Smashing Magazine shared it). But the content had value and for once I can take a few lessons from myself.