Helpful design advice for startups.
If you've never read this remarkable piece on 'product market fit' by Marc Andreessen written way back in 2007, then I strongly suggest you do so. Best quote: "In a great market - a market with lots of real potential customers - the market pulls product out of the startup." I think this observation was true when I was building World Nomads, but I didn't understand this until much later.
Much has been written about Design Thinking, but the best process I've yet come across and used to vastly improve design outcomes on design challenges ranging from UX interface design to robotic competitions is the design sprint outlined by Google Ventures. One essential learning is to loop around the idea/learn cycle as fast as you can and as many times as you can in the time you have available, long before you start actually building. Just like evolution, the more you can iterate and learn, the better your chances of improved outcomes; for UX this means whiteboards and paper rather than photoshop, for robots this means plywood and screws rather than engineered parts.
Lessons & coaching on how to build innovative products customers love by Marty Cagan of the Silicon Valley Product Group. I just wish I'd had this advice and these resources available about 15 years ago!