Christmas Gifts and the Meaning of Design (@stratechery)

Nice read for founders and anyone building anything, really:

The most fundamental part of design is truly understanding your customers at a deeper level than they even understand themselves. Moreover, to truly be design-centric is harder than being market centric. Things like surveys and focus groups persist because, while the products that result may not inspire love, they don’t inspire hate – or worse, apathy – either.

Now that I think about it, I wonder if this isn’t a reason contributing to the lack of ingenuity sometimes seen on display in the case of mobile apps, where you have a multitude of copycat apps all fighting to build essentially the same piece of software, with the same core functionality. We all know that true innovation is hard enough as it is. But when the rules set by the app stores make it exceedingly difficult for an app that isn’t flawlessly intuitive out of the box to recover and gain ground, you start to wonder if it isn’t working to stifle innovation; if developers are just saying ‘screw it, I’ll build what I know will make money rather than gamble on something that may be groundbreaking but hard for people accustomed to doing the same things to conceptualize.’