On the 7th of July I attended the European Premiere of Design Disruptors—a documentary made by InVision. I was really excited, curious and nervous to see where the industry is positioned nowadays. Did it deliver? Was it a success? Here are my thoughts.
About the movie
Design Disruptors (DD), as Clair Byrd introduced us to, is the the first iterative documentary. Based on audience feedback, the film will be improved, with a Director’s Cut scheduled for an October release.
The film itself is a cocktail of information and insight from the product world. It’s packed with stories, reveals and advices. DD is fast paced with scenes after scenes making you wonder where its ~75 minutes flew away.
The event itself was great. At first the seats weren’t that occupied, but right until the start people gathered like out of nowhere. Popcorn was on the house and InVision stickers were sitting there ready to be picked. After validating our reservation, we received the popular metal tickets. It was a nice touch and it gave a bit of that Willy Wonka feeling. After the event, the attendees pretty much flew away. A few remained for some pictures and after thoughts. I would have loved to see a more organized networking session in a dedicated hall.
Here I'm just picky, but looking back the movie’s overall flow felt a bit unbalanced. Its structure was focusing around two center points. One was all about what product design is and what it takes to be a Disruptor, while the other concentrated on company stories via its rock star product people. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every part of DD, but switching back and forth made me feel like the “Disrupt” part was sent to back, and more points were added to the design leaders’ stories.
Regarding the design leaders, the cast was just plain awesome. In what other movie you get world class design professionals to geek out and talk design? Think of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, AirBnB, Dropbox, Mailchimp, Eventbrite, Coursera, Netflix, Evernote, Apple and others.
And they geeked out a lot. Here are a few “Easter eggs” I wrote down. I probably was one of the few who took notes during the show… in the dark, but it was totally worth it!
Spoilers ahead so head down to the Q&A section if you want to remain surprised when you watch the movie.
- Evernote—they said it right in our faces: Prototype everything until it breaks. And Yes!, we'll do!
- Facebook—there are 2G Tuesdays where employees switch their phones to 2G to get closer to the experience from emerging markets.
- Facebook—Julie Zhuo, VP of Design, started with Paint Shop Pro and afterwards with a...drum rolls please… pirated version of Photoshop (claps in the audience).
- Mailchimp—the first High five was text based and later on they introduced the now classic illustration to resonate with the anxiety you get sending emails to lots of people—right to the relief after you just sent the newsletter.
- Dropbox—part of Dropbox’s success was due to the fact that people were already using folders. It was easy to relate to and go through the learning curve. It was fun to see reactions like “That’s it? It’s synced?”.
- AirBnB—they have what is called Project Snow White where they illustrate the emotional AirBnB experience through Disney-style storyboards.
- Google Ventures—using the Design Sprint as a reference point, they created an e-commerce experience for the Blue Bottle Coffee business to test out how people would buy coffee online. Using a time limit and votes they reached a solution. Testing out that solution, they found out that 5/5 from their user study knew how to choose coffee. Even funnier, although there were long presentations for each batch of coffee, the users didn’t read them, but they still trusted them. It was something like TLDR, but I trust them, they are professionals.
</End of Spoilers>
The Q&A session
One good addition to the event was Tobias van Schneider’s Q&A session held by Clair. It was great to see Tobias tackle audience questions and offer sincere responses. What I noted in particular were the following
- Just like 2G Tuesdays at Facebook, at Spotify designers use the Free plan for a week to stay inline with the product. There’s not only premium you know! Kudos for that!
- He would love to tackle industries like health and food if he had the chance.
- In case of a design roadblock you can always start a side project and kick things of a notch.
- His biggest dream? To fully redesign the air transportation experience! From reserving, to checking-in, security, flight itself and beyond.
Too bad I couldn’t find Tobias right after the movie. I would have loved to chat some more. Maybe next time!
To sum it up here are 5 pros and 5 mehs from the movie:
+ The cast—they were spot on, well chosen and full of inspiration.
+ The production value—you can see the effort and time invested in this movie. From the witty transitions blending sketches and wireframes with real products to the close-up and inspirational quotes through-out each part of the movie.
+ The insight—the amount of information was staggering, yet immersive. It was great finding out new stuff about all the companies and their respective leaders.
+ Blending with history—I really loved how they made comparisons today versus the past (phones, radio, transistors, when the iPhone came along etc).
+ The Q&A (Tobias)—no more to add, he was awesome.
- Disrupting the flow—The show started strong with what means to be a Disruptor, what is product design and so on, but then I felt it was left behind for the end.
- Subtitles maybe—for some parts of the movie I was thinking: Hmmm, some subtitles would have been great. Not that the sound wasn’t great, but I was taking notes and it would’ve helped to write correctly all the resources and inspiration revealed.
- Movie duration— I found it a bit too short for my taste. I was like That’s it? When did the time pass? I want more! I hope the Director’s Cut will be longer.
- A bit cluttered— Luckily I took notes, otherwise my memory wouldn't have stored some cool stuff. Long live the pen and paper.
- The Q&A (Clair)—Clair was enchanting and lovely, but I felt she was a bit unprepared for the Q&A. Most of her answers were more like “OK”, “Alright”, “Interesting”. I would have loved to see her challenge Tobias and go deeper with certain themes.
So was it worth it? Definitely. Does it need improvements? Yes, and I hope with the right feedback it can truly become a must-have-can’t-live-without in any designer’s media library. So bring up the Blu-ray. My wallet is ready.
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