How to design products that make a difference with Cat Noone
Jan. 29, 2020, 8:43 a.m.
On this episode Abadesi talks to Cat Noone, CEO and designer at Stark, a suite of integrated accessibility compliance tools for teams. She is also co-founder of Iris, a modern-day emergency alert system.
In this episode they talk about...
The story behind Stark
Cat was raised by her grandma and says that that experience ingrained in her the drive to create things for people who are otherwise “put aside.” She is a designer by trade and turned out to be an accidental founder. She explains how the project arose out of her earlier work on Iris, which involved creating experiences for older adults. Stark ended up being a product that they built for themselves when they were working on Iris and then evolved into its own standalone product that they now sell to other teams.
Why accessible design matters
“There may be only twenty thousand people on a product using it that have only one arm but what you don't realize is that there are more individuals that have a broken arm. There are also millions of people that are new parents for the first time and only have access to one arm. So now your 20,000 just skyrocketed to 2 million.”
Cat talks about why designing for accessibility and inclusion is important and talks about some of the other initiatives underway in the tech industry to make the web a more inclusive place for everyone. She explains why it’s important from an ethics perspective, but also why it makes financial sense to do so given the risk of negative PR and potential lawsuits. She says that sometimes compliance can be daunting but they are working to make it easier to be compliant with accessibility regulations through their work at Stark.
Why they are “investing in customers” at Stark
“I’m a huge proponent of investing in customers and so I think a lot of people think about cost of acquisition but we should ask 'how do we build a community that give back and in turns fuels our mission to be the gold standard.'"
Cat explains the company philosophy they have at Stark and discusses what it’s like to be a first-time CEO of a “company that’s going somewhere.” She talks about how they think about culture as they grow and the initiatives that they are working on to grow the company, including content marketing, newsletters, and community. She explains what it means to be investing in customers and why they don’t look at customers as an acquisition cost. She talks about why traditional sales don’t work in a company like Stark and why sometimes the best practices for big companies don’t translate well to smaller ones.
How she uses time design to be productive
“I was someone who spent a lot of time working for a long period of time. It’s hard for me to sit here and say you can’t do that, because that’s how I got to where I am now. If I could go back in time, I would probably still work those long hours — but I’d take care of myself.”
Cat admits that she struggled with managing her time in the past but that with some help she’s been able to “design her time” more effectively which has allowed her to get a lot done in the time that she has as a new mom. She says that her entire workday is planned out and that she starts by reading for thirty minutes every day, which she says helps her approach her work with a calm mindset rather than being frantic about all the things she has to do that day. She also says that she works first on the three things that she needs to make sure she gets done in a given day and then starts tackling the rest. She also says that she still makes sure to take care of herself and says that she can be the best mom and businessperson by prioritizing herself.
She also talks about some of her favorite products, including the classics like Twitter, Slack, iMessage, WhatsApp, and Airtable, as well as DuckDuckGo for search. She says that she uses a record player to listen to music and explains what it is about vinyl that makes the music sound so much different from electronic music formats.
We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Big thanks to Knowable and NetSuite for their support. 😸