First Designer In isn’t yet another design book, it’s a hyper-practical guide to all the non-design work the role entails.
What’s In the Book
The book’s broken down into three sections, plus an addendum. Here’s exactly what’s in each:
Making Space For Design
Setting Design up for healthy success.
Minimum Viable Design Team Two types of design teams Six design skills of a generalist Design business metrics Design's place in the company Drafting a master plan
The First Five Weeks
An action packed plan to get on-boarded.
Audit of the current state Identify the real stakeholders Set fundamental expectations Take benchmark measurements Set up proto-personas Deliver. Deliver. Deliver.
These topics fill entire books. We’ll focus solely on bootstrapping them into existence.
Seed a design system Getting a components library built Seed research operations Measure design org maturity Prepare yourself to hire a team
Swipe Files & Resources
Downloadable files, free forever for folks who’ve purchased the book.
The Action Plan (Summary) Readiness (Checklist) Design Levels Matrix (Spreadsheet) Research Projects vs. User Studies (Swipe File) Reading list of all the books and articles cited (Link List)
Who Needs This Book
If you’ve landed a gig as a solo designer, and have the sinking feeling there’s more to it than you realized, this book is definitely for you.
If you’re making the first design hire, parts of this book are for you—the entire Section One and Hiring a Team.
VCs, et al
If you've got a portfolio of early-stage companies struggling to hire their first designer, this book is for them (probably not you).
I’ve made a career of being the first designer hire, then building up a team from scratch.
In over a dozen years in the business, I’ve founded two of my own companies, sold one, been the first hire at multiple startups, and worked in large multinational companies.
I’ve worked on products ranging from SMB to enterprise; delivered via SaaS, distributed via channel partners, or embedded in physical appliances. I’m part of the 500 startups network, member of the UXPA, and an active mentor in the UX design community.
There’s a wealth of knowledge locked away in our industry. It needs to be shared back to the community.
At least once a week, a fresh-faced designer will pop into a forum and cheerily ask for pointers on being a solo UX practitioner. They are met with links to a few articles and a list of books about design craft or design management. Nothing, however, is available that can prepare them for the harsh reality of being the first design hire tasked with creating a brand new design function within a company—until now.
I wrote First Designer In to fill that gap. This isn’t design book; it’s a hyper-practical guide to all the non-design work the role entails.