Apr 4, 2024

3 things we can learn from how design works at Metalab

Creator of Dive

I interviewed the Head of Design at Metalab but it didn't go as I expected...

See, my goal was to learn how they operate in order to help freelancers work with clients more effectively.

And sure, there's plenty of that in there...

But Michael Wandelmaier started sharing some bigger ideas that are shaping the type of designer I personally want to become 👇

1 — Design for momentum

I used to think that the longer I could stay low-fidelity, the more alignment I could drive internally. As a result, more of my process moved from Figma frames to Notion blocks.

It's almost like I had to "figure it out" to start making a mess in Figma.

That's why this quote hit home for me:

"Design to find an answer... Don't find answers to be able to design"
- Michael Wandelmeier

It reminded me of Gabe Valdivia saying he's "artifact-first".

The number one thing that matters is gaining and preserving momentum. And often times that looks like shipping high-fidelity prototypes as fast as humanly possible.

2 — Have a strong point of view

I'm noticing a trend in some of these recent interviews...

People consistently stress the importance of being opinionated when presenting ideas.

During Instagram design reviews, Rich Arnold said they'd tell you to come back later if you didn't have one 😆

Which is why I love that Metalab uses the "Ridiculously early hypothesis"...

For each project, they come back after the first week with a strong narrative-driven point of view that challenges the obvious direction.

"We present that to get a reaction from the client so we don't have a four-week span of product definition"

In the interview, he shares a great example of how this tactic changed the trajectory of the Upwork redesign project.

And I see an opportunity to do a lot more of this while working in-house too 🤔

3 — Be a wildcard

​Ali said this better than I ever could 👇

To help designers "rise above preconceptions", Metalab gives ultimate freedom and encourages people to work with zero constraints for the first 1-2 days.

No hard requirements.

No specific goals.

Just envision what the product might become (and yes, that means jumping straight to high-fidelity 😉).

"The perceived barriers to doing something really cool are mostly in your mind. And you self-censor and do more conservative or pragmatic solutions"

Creating space for a bit of wildcard exploration early in a project dramatically changes the conversation around what people think is possible.

And that's what Metalab looks for in design candidates 👇

"We look for designers who aim for the highest possible end outcome and are willing to fight tooth and nail for that rather than looking for the most pragmatic solution"

🔮 Envisioning the art of the possible

Open up your notes product of choice...

Because this interview with Michael Wandelmaier is incredibly high time-to-value.

In addition to everything written above, we also get into:

  • How they design like Pulp Fiction

  • The pillars of Metalab's design process

  • The unique way they map out user journeys

  • Why Metalab brought in a storytelling coach

  • Tips for driving alignment on complex projects

  • Why Metalab takes concept naming so seriously

  • + a lot more

Listen on YouTube, Spotify, Apple, or wherever you get your podcasts 👇

I interviewed the Head of Design at Metalab but it didn't go as I expected...

See, my goal was to learn how they operate in order to help freelancers work with clients more effectively.

And sure, there's plenty of that in there...

But Michael Wandelmaier started sharing some bigger ideas that are shaping the type of designer I personally want to become 👇

1 — Design for momentum

I used to think that the longer I could stay low-fidelity, the more alignment I could drive internally. As a result, more of my process moved from Figma frames to Notion blocks.

It's almost like I had to "figure it out" to start making a mess in Figma.

That's why this quote hit home for me:

"Design to find an answer... Don't find answers to be able to design"
- Michael Wandelmeier

It reminded me of Gabe Valdivia saying he's "artifact-first".

The number one thing that matters is gaining and preserving momentum. And often times that looks like shipping high-fidelity prototypes as fast as humanly possible.

2 — Have a strong point of view

I'm noticing a trend in some of these recent interviews...

People consistently stress the importance of being opinionated when presenting ideas.

During Instagram design reviews, Rich Arnold said they'd tell you to come back later if you didn't have one 😆

Which is why I love that Metalab uses the "Ridiculously early hypothesis"...

For each project, they come back after the first week with a strong narrative-driven point of view that challenges the obvious direction.

"We present that to get a reaction from the client so we don't have a four-week span of product definition"

In the interview, he shares a great example of how this tactic changed the trajectory of the Upwork redesign project.

And I see an opportunity to do a lot more of this while working in-house too 🤔

3 — Be a wildcard

​Ali said this better than I ever could 👇

To help designers "rise above preconceptions", Metalab gives ultimate freedom and encourages people to work with zero constraints for the first 1-2 days.

No hard requirements.

No specific goals.

Just envision what the product might become (and yes, that means jumping straight to high-fidelity 😉).

"The perceived barriers to doing something really cool are mostly in your mind. And you self-censor and do more conservative or pragmatic solutions"

Creating space for a bit of wildcard exploration early in a project dramatically changes the conversation around what people think is possible.

And that's what Metalab looks for in design candidates 👇

"We look for designers who aim for the highest possible end outcome and are willing to fight tooth and nail for that rather than looking for the most pragmatic solution"

🔮 Envisioning the art of the possible

Open up your notes product of choice...

Because this interview with Michael Wandelmaier is incredibly high time-to-value.

In addition to everything written above, we also get into:

  • How they design like Pulp Fiction

  • The pillars of Metalab's design process

  • The unique way they map out user journeys

  • Why Metalab brought in a storytelling coach

  • Tips for driving alignment on complex projects

  • Why Metalab takes concept naming so seriously

  • + a lot more

Listen on YouTube, Spotify, Apple, or wherever you get your podcasts 👇

I interviewed the Head of Design at Metalab but it didn't go as I expected...

See, my goal was to learn how they operate in order to help freelancers work with clients more effectively.

And sure, there's plenty of that in there...

But Michael Wandelmaier started sharing some bigger ideas that are shaping the type of designer I personally want to become 👇

1 — Design for momentum

I used to think that the longer I could stay low-fidelity, the more alignment I could drive internally. As a result, more of my process moved from Figma frames to Notion blocks.

It's almost like I had to "figure it out" to start making a mess in Figma.

That's why this quote hit home for me:

"Design to find an answer... Don't find answers to be able to design"
- Michael Wandelmeier

It reminded me of Gabe Valdivia saying he's "artifact-first".

The number one thing that matters is gaining and preserving momentum. And often times that looks like shipping high-fidelity prototypes as fast as humanly possible.

2 — Have a strong point of view

I'm noticing a trend in some of these recent interviews...

People consistently stress the importance of being opinionated when presenting ideas.

During Instagram design reviews, Rich Arnold said they'd tell you to come back later if you didn't have one 😆

Which is why I love that Metalab uses the "Ridiculously early hypothesis"...

For each project, they come back after the first week with a strong narrative-driven point of view that challenges the obvious direction.

"We present that to get a reaction from the client so we don't have a four-week span of product definition"

In the interview, he shares a great example of how this tactic changed the trajectory of the Upwork redesign project.

And I see an opportunity to do a lot more of this while working in-house too 🤔

3 — Be a wildcard

​Ali said this better than I ever could 👇

To help designers "rise above preconceptions", Metalab gives ultimate freedom and encourages people to work with zero constraints for the first 1-2 days.

No hard requirements.

No specific goals.

Just envision what the product might become (and yes, that means jumping straight to high-fidelity 😉).

"The perceived barriers to doing something really cool are mostly in your mind. And you self-censor and do more conservative or pragmatic solutions"

Creating space for a bit of wildcard exploration early in a project dramatically changes the conversation around what people think is possible.

And that's what Metalab looks for in design candidates 👇

"We look for designers who aim for the highest possible end outcome and are willing to fight tooth and nail for that rather than looking for the most pragmatic solution"

🔮 Envisioning the art of the possible

Open up your notes product of choice...

Because this interview with Michael Wandelmaier is incredibly high time-to-value.

In addition to everything written above, we also get into:

  • How they design like Pulp Fiction

  • The pillars of Metalab's design process

  • The unique way they map out user journeys

  • Why Metalab brought in a storytelling coach

  • Tips for driving alignment on complex projects

  • Why Metalab takes concept naming so seriously

  • + a lot more

Listen on YouTube, Spotify, Apple, or wherever you get your podcasts 👇

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"There's no doubt that Dive has made me a better designer"

@ned_ray

Join 10,000+ designers

Get our weekly breakdowns

"There's no doubt that Dive has made me a better designer"

@ned_ray

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I've been binging Dive Club lately and the quality is nuts

Literally the only show about design I watch”

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