Jane Portman – Design for Founders: 4 Shortcuts for Getting Great Design in Record Time – MicroConf Europe 2014

The MicroConf Europe 2014 Hub Page has notes on all the talks and additional information.

Website: UIBreakfast.com / ClientOnboard.com
Twitter: @uibreakfast
Slides: here

  • worked for a year on oDesk – increasd rate to $50/h
  • Marketing hack for non-english people: get yourself an easy “english” name. “Jane Portman” isn’t her real name

What is great design?

  • What is great design?
    • It looks pleasant
    • It’s easy to use
    • It communicates quality
  • There is no silver bullet – it takes time
  • You will need a good designer
    • focus on quality over quantity to keep costs low
    • good designers do not take much bandwidth
  • design & copywriting go hand in hand
  • Where to find good designers
  • Once you have a designer:
    • I need a landing page
    • Better: I need a design solution for my business
    • Elements:
      • logo
      • Branding elements (illustrations & )
    • Turnaround time: 1 week¬†– ride the wave of excitement

Shortcut #2: Templates

  • Design is always crafted by hand – Templates are only way to cheat hours
  • Warning: “Non-designer with a template is like a baby with a box of matches”
  • Store & re-use things, keep an asset library

Shortcut #3: Start with yourself

Shortcut #4: Keep it simple

  • Look for simple solutions (easy to build, easy to use, etc)
  • Do NOT re-invent the wheel (Thunderbird title bar on Windows, I’m looking at you…)
  • Do not worry, you can always iterate – just start with something
  • You are the founder: Abuse Enjoy your power
    • have fun
    • business is lifestyle decision

Questions & Answers

  • Cost difference between “landing page” and “business package”?
    • good if designer charges in days
    • being invited into “shaping business strategy” is exciting for designer –> more buy-in
    • good designers prefer to do a package, landing pages are “boring”
  • Start with templates. Where to get templates?
  • “Good design client never argues about button shape/size” – great tip. How to be a better design client?
    • Ask for early prototype, iterations. Don’t allow for 2 weeks on first iteration
  • Give examples of paid test projects:
    • landing pages
  • a list of websites the client likes is a prerequisite before starting the work
  • What prices ranges for a medium-range / top-range designer?
    • There is no top designer
    • fixed price tends to produce scope creep

Share Button
About Christoph

Christoph lives in Munich, Germany and is bootstrapping his own SaaS application as a part-time entrepreneur.

He likes to write on this blog about anything of relevance to single-founder bootstrapped software startups.


  1. […] Jane Portman: “Design for Founders:¬†4 Shortcuts for Getting Great Design in Record Time“ […]

  2. […] 4 Shortcuts for Getting Great Design in Record Time.” Here’s the slide deck and here’s a recap by Christoph […]

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.