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Why Japanese Design Is So Different & What You Should Learn from It

By Tim Romero: Serial startup founder in Japan and indomitable innovator

There are a lot of passionate opinions about Japanese design. From the beauty and subtlety of the best Japanese anime to the design horrors of most corporate Powerpoint presentations, Japanese design covers a huge range. Things are changing though, and today we sit down and talk with Naofumi Tsuchiya, the founder and CEO of Goodpatch, one of Japan’s leading, and most richly valued, UI/UX design startups. We talk about how Japanese design is evolving and why we might be seeing (for better or worse) a more global design standard and sensibility. Goodpatch is one of the new breed of Japanese design firms, and they’ve been able to raise substantial venture funding. Nao and I also talk about how that venture money has forced his startup to move in very specific strategic directions. It’s a fascinating discussion, and I think you’ll enjoy it. UPDATE: The conversation below on the future of Goodpatch's two products is a bit confusing. Goodpatch has stopped development of Balto, but is continuing development on Prott. They are now in the process of a major rewrite and will soon launch a revamped Prott 2. Show Notes How you can choose your customers in Japan, and why most startups think you cannot How a life-threatening illness actually turned Nao's life around What makes a product meaningful How to discover passionate teams hiding inside large enterprises Why it's hard for a startup to move from services to products Why design in Japan is so different today How to improve user acquisition by over 50% (at least in Japan) How we should be raising the next generation of designers Links from the Founder Learn more about Goodpatch on their homepage Check out Nao's blog Follow him on Twitter @tsuchinao83 Check out the Goodpatch blog In English In Japanese Listen to the Goodpatch podcast (sorry, Japanese only) [shareaholic app="share_buttons" id="7994466"] Leave a comment Transcript Welcome to Disrupting Japan. Straight talk from Japan’s most successful entrepreneurs. I’m Tim Romero and thanks for joining me. Today, we’re going to be talking about design in Japan and it’s going to be good. Because Japanese design is a topic that people have a lot of strong opinions about. From the subtlety and nuance you see in the very best of Japanese anime to the visual horrors of Japanese corporate PowerPoint presentations. The topic covers both the wonderful and the terrible. And so, to dance us through this minefield is Nao Tsuchiya of Goodpatch. Now, Goodpatch is one of Japan’s fastest growing and most highly valued design startups. We’ll talk about Japanese design not only as it exist today but why we might see a global convergence of design, style, and UI sensibilities in the coming decades. Even if it’s inevitable, it’ll be sad to see the current global diversity disappear. And though we don’t talk about it during the interview, I first ran across now a while back when I recommended Goodpatch to one of my larger consulting clients. Before providing an estimate or drilling down into the requirements, Goodpatch sent back a detailed questionnaire, asking this enterprise about their dreams for the project and who their ideal users were, and how they normally communicated with them. Now, these are great, in fact, even common sense questions for designing a user experience. They show that the designers really do care about what they’re building over at Goodpatch. But the enterprise employees running this project simply did not know how to deal with it. And rather than trying to answer the questions and challenge their own assumptions about the project, they went with a more traditional and more obedient vendor. The final product was definitely the last because of that decision. I’ve been a fan of Goodpatch from the day I saw that corporate client questionnaire. But you know, Nao tells the story much better than I can.

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