You’re reading an excerpt of Land Your Dream Design Job, a book by Dan Shilov. Filled with hard-won, personal insights, it is a comprehensive guide to landing a product design role in a startup, agency, or tech company, and covers the entire design interview process from beginning to end, for experienced and aspriring designers. Purchase the book to support the author and the ad-free Holloway reading experience. You get instant digital access, commentary and future updates, and a high-quality PDF download.

Looking at Analogous Domains for Inspiration

To start this exercise, while riding the train to my next interview, I began typing some thoughts on my phone in the notes app on how to approach the task. The train itself was an inspiration—could public transit be the answer? I pursued the mass transit idea further by looking into Emirates airlines and other luxury transit services, including the new luxury Japanese train. The luxurious interiors looked nice, but what about everyday mass commuters? What are their existing activities and habits when taking the train to work?

Figure: Your Own Private Autonomous Vehicle

Your own private autonomous vehicle

I didn’t have time to set up a proper study, so I relied on three 12-minute interviews with friends and asked them about their experience with riding trains, buses, ferries, and so on. From searching online and from the conversations, I identified four major categories of activities on mass transit: productivity, relaxation, social, and health.

Questioning Assumptions

When you’re going deep on the design exercise, it helps to periodically step back and remind yourself about the problem you’re trying to solve. In my case the prompt was asking for an in-car UI design for a self-driving car. I decided to take a slightly different approach because many car manufacturers have been addressing this problem for decades. Redesigning the car display would be optimizing for local maxima prematurely.

Figure: Interior Display vs Exterior

Don't take your eyes off the road
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