Issue 23 – November 2019
How to test prototypes with customers, the long history of prototypes, the state of UX in 2020, and the underlying principles of agile methodologies.

Hi! Have you ever thought about the reason why the most effective way to slow down speeding drivers is to put up a sign that shows them their current speed? The answer is what psychologists call “feedback loops”: If you provide people with data about their current behavior, they will adjust it bit by bit until it matches a more desirable state. Feedback loops are a powerful tool to change human behavior for the better, but they are are also how we learn, build up memory, and improve our skills. So it comes as no surprise that feedback loops have also found their way into the world of design and product management. Methodologies like Kanban, Scrum, Lean Startup, or Design Thinking heavily rely on feedback loops to iteratively improve outcomes. But no matter which method you are using – or even if you are using none of them – there is one tool that lets you harness the power of feedback loops like no other: Prototyping. Prototypes are the fastest and cheapest way to make ideas and data visible and tangible. Prototypes can be subject of thought and experimentation and a transparent representation of the current state of your project. Prototypes are easily testable, which gives you more insight into possible problems and the next steps to take. And, based on your observations, you can then improve different aspects of your product, come up with new hypotheses, and test them again. The feedback loop is closed.

As always: If you enjoy this newsletter, please consider sharing it with a person who might appreciate it, too. If you have any feedback or want to share an interesting link, just write an email. I love to hear from you. Thank you so much! 🤗

– Have a great day! Matthias


How to Test Prototypes with Customers: The Five-Act Interview

Interviewing customers can be invaluable to decide if an idea or design works. But how do you conduct a successful interview? One technique is the so-called Five-Act Interview, which is part of the book Sprint by Jake Knapp and others from Google Ventures. In this short video, you can see the Five-Act interview in action.

The Long History of Prototypes

Prototyping, although it wasn’t called that way, has always been a part of how humans build things. In this article, Michael Guggenheim takes a look at the history of prototyping and outlines some of the reasons why prototypes have regained certain prominence and visibility in recent times, after being pushed back for a long time as being messy and amateurish in a world dominated by experts, planning, and science.

First Person Interview: James Oliver Senior and Grant Wedner on Prototyping

Prototyping is a very powerful process for discovery but it’s still not how most people work every day. So Jim Rosenberg from IDEO sat down with two experts, James Oliver Senior and Grant Wedner, to learn more about the advantages of prototyping, like testing hypotheses and refining ideas. In a few short videos, they also explain what makes a good prototype, for example, why surprisingly simple low-fidelity prototypes are often all you need and why defining a narrow problem space can be helpful to get started in solving big complex problems.

The State of UX in 2020

For the fifth year now, Fabricio Teixeira and Caio Braga from UX Collective share a few of the trends they have identified which our industry has been writing, talking, and thinking about. One of the key trends they observed: Teams are increasingly adopting workflows that are less based on design files as deliverables. Instead, the product of design work is “every decision we made with the team and how we influenced the organization at large.” One key aspect of this shift: Collaboration and sharing, for example of prototypes, is becoming more important than ever.


Lean, Agile, & Design Thinking by Jeff Gothelf

Lean, agile, and Design Thinking are all popular frameworks that teams apply to work more effectively. But in reality, teams often don’t align their different ways of working and processes that are meant to improve the output of work are in fact not working for anyone. In this great talk from Mind the Product Singapore, Jeff Gothelf, author of Sense & Respond, explains why we have to move away from “implementing processes”. Instead, we should focus on the underlying principles of agile methodologies and Jeff provides ten such principles that work with any methodology your team may choose to use.


2019 Design Tools Survey

More than 3000 designers from all over the world participated in the third annual Design Tools Survey. In nine categories from wireframing and prototyping to user testing and design system tools, designers shared what they use and what they are excited about.

Sketch 60 — your design system starts here

Version 60 of Sketch introduced a new Components Panel that brings Symbols, Text Styles and Layer Styles into a single tab. The team also improved the onboarding process for shared libraries and the transition from local to Cloud Libraries for Sketch for Teams.


The Greensock Animation Platform is one of the industry standards for building JavaScript-based animations and it is, therefore, also a great tool to build animation prototypes. Version 3, which is a complete re-write of the library, now comes at half the file size and with over 50 new features, like a simplified API, motion paths, new utility methods, keyframes, and much more.

Basecamp Personal

The popular project management software Basecamp now offers a free version for up to 3 projects: Basecamp Personal is “perfect for freelancers, students, families, and personal projects” and also includes the infamous hill chart to track progress, of course.

Abstract – Now available in public beta: Adobe XD file support

After the Adobe MAX release of XD brought, among other new features, component states and real-time coediting, here comes the next great news on XD: The Abstract team just released Adobe XD file support into public beta for all customers, so you can now use Abstract to manage your XD files in a workflow based on branches, commits, and merges of stakeholder-approved design work.

Angle 3

The updated Angle 3 by Meng To and his team now comes with over 1000 vector and 3D device mockups for Sketch, Figma and Adobe XD.


Flowkit is a UI kit to create user flows from pre-defined components. It is available for Sketch, Figma, and Adobe XD.


Wireframer is a neat little tool by Jim Raptis that lets you create SVG placeholder text for easy use inside – you probably guessed it – Sketch, Figma, and Adobe XD.