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New to Product Design? Here are 5 Essential Questions and Answers to Help you Learn the Ropes


We host a forum for our portfolio company founders to explore and discuss relevant topics with connections in the TitletownTech network. We call this series Getting Real.

Photo of Grant Lacy in front of Lambeau Field.
ChemDirect Head of Product Grant Lacy

One of our conversations was led by ChemDirect Head of Product Grant Lacy. Grant works at the intersection of business, creativity, and the future of the e-commerce space, as ChemDirect looks to digitize the chemical purchasing and selling experience via an all-in-one chemical e-commerce platform. Formerly the co-founder and COO of Inline Digital, a wholesale platform for luxury goods, Grant developed a strategic roadmap that led to securing funding from leading investors, like Sequoia Capital Scout Fund and Farfetch.

Additionally, he architected Inline's GTM strategy that resulted in 100% MoM growth and about $2M of facilitated B2B transactions to a network of 150 global retailers. Inline Digital graduated from the leading fashion technology incubator programs, like Farfetch's Dream Assembly Incubator, LVMH's La Maison des Startups, and was selected as a 2019 LVMH Innovation Award Finalist.

Grant graduated with honors from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and Roski School of Art and Design.

In Grant’s discussion, he went back to the basics of product design and provided additional recommended resources.


5 Essential Product Design Questions and Answers

Q: What is product design?

A: The process of imagining, creating, and iterating on any experience your user has with your product.

Take a broad approach to the definition of ‘product.’ It doesn’t have to be a material object or digital platform. The definition of product also includes customer support interactions, marketing touchpoints, logistics experiences, and more.

Q: What should I do before I start designing?

A: Understand who you're designing for.

Conduct thorough user research to gain insights into their needs, preferences, and pain points. This will help you create a user-centered design that effectively addresses their requirements.

Q: What is the usability curve?

A: The time is takes your users to understand and feel comfortable using your product.

It represents the learning curve associated with using a new product or interface. Aim to design products that have a shallow usability curve, allowing users to quickly grasp and navigate the features.

Usability curve graphic.

Q: What is time to value?

A: The time it takes for your users to find value in your product.

It’s the duration between a user's initial interaction with the product and when they realize its benefits or achieve their desired outcomes. Design your product in a way that delivers value to users as quickly and efficiently as possible to enhance user satisfaction and retention. Once your product has done this once, identify ways in which users continue to see value from your product. This should have the goal of driving long-term retention amongst your users.

Q: What is the role of a designer?

A: Help people navigate the "Gulf of Execution" and the "Gulf of Evaluation."

The Gulf of Execution relates to making it easy for users to understand how to interact with a product and perform desired actions. The Gulf of Evaluation involves providing clear feedback and making it effortless for users to assess the outcome of their actions. Designers play a crucial role in creating intuitive interfaces and seamless user experiences that bridge these gaps.

Gulf of Evaluation and Gulf of Execution cycle graphic.

Grant's Resource Recommendations


  • "The Design of Everyday Things" by Don Norman

  • "Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making" by Tony Fadell

  • "Creative Selection: Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs" by Ken Kocienda

  • "Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products" by Nir Eyal

  • "100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People" by Susan Weinschenk


By addressing these essential questions, you'll gain a basic foundation in product design and be better equipped to create user-centric and impactful products. Remember to continuously learn, iterate, and seek feedback throughout the design process. Happy designing!

TitletownTech is looking for great founders tackling big challenges

If you’re an early-stage founder obsessed with a meaningful problem, deeply understand the market, and have a creative approach to addressing it, we’d love to hear from you. Before you reach out, take a second to review some of our most frequently asked questions located on our contact page.


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