Don’t just make buttons… Design for performance | Lawrence Valenti, CCO and Managing Partner at Scalio

Don’t just make buttons… Design for performance | Lawrence Valenti, CCO and Managing Partner at Scalio


Lawrence Valenti is the Chief Creative Officer and Managing Partner at Scalio, a product design and development agency, as well as an acting advisor for firms in gaming, ad tech, and growth. He has managed teams with King, GSN Games, and Apple.

Growth@Scale Podcast Episode 025 with Lawrence Valenti graphic

On the latest episode of Growth@Scale, Matt is joined by creative, design, and product expert Lawrence Valenti for an engaging discussion about the pivotal role of design and creative strategy in driving scalable growth for businesses.

Key Takeaways:

  • The importance of design and creativity in business
  • What happens to design in a post-AI world
  • The role and influence of psychology in design choices
  • Why creative strategy, iterative testing, and consumer insights matter
  • How investing in usability and intuitive design can yield ROI

In this episode:

0:00:05 – (Matt Widdoes): Welcome to Growth@Scale. I’m your host, Matt Widdoes. This is a podcast for leaders who want to bring sustainable, predictable, scalable growth to their businesses. Every episode, I sit down with world class growth experts across product marketing, finance, operations, you name it. The hope is that these conversations will give you real, actionable advice for building and sustaining company growth.

0:00:33 – (Matt Widdoes): Welcome to the Growth@Scale podcast. I’m your host, Matt Widdoes, and today we’re joined by Lawrence Valenti, an expert in product creative, strategy and data led marketing. Welcome to the podcast, Lawrence.

0:00:43 – (Lawrence Valenti): Hey, Matt. Thanks for having me. It’s good to hang out today.

0:00:46 – (Matt Widdoes): Yeah, I’m excited. I’ve been looking forward to having this podcast for a long time. So you know, for people who don’t know you already. Can you tell us, who are you? Where have you been? What do you do?

0:00:55 – (Lawrence Valenti): Happy to. Well, my name is Lawrence. Currently, I serve as Chief Creative Officer and Managing Partner at Scalio, which is a product design and development agency. I’ve been really fortunate to have managed creative and studio teams that are responsible for art, product and game design, marketing, creative and strategic or brand partnerships at some large firms like King, GSN Games and Apple, I proudly also serve as an advisor for some visionary firms that work in gaming, ad tech and growth. And I’ve obviously been a design and product advisor here at MAVAN for the past four years, which has been an amazing experience.

0:01:35 – (Matt Widdoes): Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s been four years as what?

0:01:38 – (Lawrence Valenti): You know, it’s a complete loop. I also have an MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management. I was a Dean’s Fellow there with an emphasis in technology, management and entrepreneurship.

0:01:49 – (Matt Widdoes): Yeah, it’s been great to see that kind of play out. Lawrence and I. For the listeners who don’t know, we go back to the King days where we originally met, and Lawrence was leading a new experimental group focused on live games on the Facebook platform, amongst other things. And so he and I worked very closely on a number of marketing initiatives. So like, let’s talk a little bit more about your background and experience. You’ve worked at major companies like Apple. You’ve worked with a ton of startups over the last few years.

0:02:18 – (Matt Widdoes): Creative can mean many different things to different people, and I’m sure it’s meant different things to you, even throughout your career. I’d love to kind of dive into that experience and kind of fill in the gaps of your journey.

0:02:28 – (Lawrence Valenti): Sure. Well, thanks for asking. I’d say creative journeys, the one thing that creatives will always tell you is that their career journey is very rarely linear. For me, I found that I really love to reside at that intersection of art and design, but also business data and psychology, which I’m hoping maybe we’ll get to talk more about today. It’s funny, like my first job threw me into a role of representing a wonderfully diverse team of creatives to production and operations and even brand partnership executives. This is like a 23 year old guy that had a design background, but I really enjoyed being that router between those different functions and stakeholder groups from marketing and design, product and production. So I kind of loved wearing those different hats and being in the middle of the Venn diagram.

0:03:23 – (Lawrence Valenti): I guess in terms of experience, I would kind of spotlight the many years that I had at GSN Games, taking that firm from a very small team of about six in a humble office in San Francisco, to half a dozen offices around the world, responsible for a portfolio of products that we’re delighting well over 100 million users. While there, I got to be not just a creative leader, but also part of studio and organizational leadership.

0:03:55 – (Lawrence Valenti): That kind of helped me see the benefits of creative, having a seat at the table, to say… not only serving kind of a significant part of a firm’s strategy across products, but also offering just a huge amount of innovation, impact and organizational ROI that can be unlocked by working with these creative groups. Gaming is a very creative product and industry, and it’s a real untouched resource to be able to partner with your creatives well.

0:04:26 – (Matt Widdoes): And I think a lot of people kind of underestimate or they misappropriate the use of creative. And some people see it as light as, hey, we need a logo and a website, and now we’re done. And they don’t think about it strategically. They certainly don’t often think about it cross-functionally. And I think that’s one area that really stands out from your experience is that ability to drive not just kind of baseline creative strategy, but really work with all of these other partners across product, across even finance, across other areas of the business that really rely on creative and the kind of through line there, so that you have a consistent approach, which is kind of the desire of brand. You have actionable and relatable content, which is kind of the desire of performance marketing.

0:05:14 – (Matt Widdoes): You have that play out in the experience and all the way down to the UI, which is kind of a desire of product, and oftentimes those are handled by different groups. And so you have this lack of cohesion from the beginning to end, from the first experience with a brand, whether that’s a paid ad or it’s some sort of branded advertisement, all the way down to canceling your account, if you will. Right. Like, what does it look like across that and all the communication in between. So it’s not just visual, but it’s also the storytelling.

0:05:44 – (Matt Widdoes): It’s the desires and the kind of things that people hope to get out of a product, et cetera. So I’d love to kind of dive in a little bit deeper there just from making the case for design and how you think about generally approaching that at a high level across various industries.

0:06:01 – (Lawrence Valenti): Yeah. Well, first of all, thanks for those kind words about the creative function and the role that it has to, you know, I’d say, especially in technology, the digital medium allows us, it’s an interactive art form. From signing up for auto insurance to watching some content on TikTok to playing a game to purchasing on Amazon, we really depend on some emotions, our senses, and obviously, there’s a lot of neuroscience at play there, too.

0:06:36 – (Lawrence Valenti): I’d say in a technology sector where engineering and llms and data science are all kind of ruling the roost right now, design is really important and has an even more important role to play in product development. I think the greatest tool ever is rather useless if people don’t know properly how to use it. We all have a steering wheel and a dashboard for our cars and handlebars for our bikes. And so I think where design has a role to play is making that intuitive and making that feel right and connecting someone with… connecting a solution to help serve their challenge or their problem.

0:07:25 – (Matt Widdoes): Well, let’s talk about the psychology of design choices. So how does, at a really high level, maybe, human psychology, influence consumer behavior and decision making? 

0:07:34 – (Lawrence Valenti): Oh wow. Well, believe it or not, it influences it a lot. Even some of those features and mechanics that you might see in your favorite game from completion, completing a level, or getting the most stars as you complete a level, collecting and kind of amassing all of your goods and your wares and your little virtual backpack as you’re walking around your MMO. Even completionism, being able to beat the game, as we used to say when I was a kid, these are actually really primal feelings.

0:08:13 – (Lawrence Valenti): They’re things that we were doing long before we had games and interactive media. And there’s a real neuroscience to a lot of this. Even, I’d reference, like, Kahneman’s ‘Thinking Fast and Slow Book’, which kind of explains our desire as humans to pursue a decision with the lowest cognitive load. That’s us wanting to have an intuitive user experience, right? So I think there’s a lot of psychology and thought and intentionality that goes into it. And I would offer to your audience that something very important is to consider design.

0:08:55 – (Lawrence Valenti): Not just to make buttons for their product, but also to leverage design to help unlock more performance. And that’s not just in growth and marketing, but also in product experience. The conversions, the metrics that you’re aspiring to have of engagement, retention, and even monetization.

0:09:18 – (Matt Widdoes): We see this a lot in gaming. I think it’s so prevalent. And probably any major game you could, if you just download it, play it, keep interacting with it, spend 40 hours playing a game, you’re going to find a lot of areas where that example is where you can see the gamification. You can see some of these psychological levers. We see this also even in B2B companies. I think a lot of times people think, their knee-jerk reaction is like, oh, that’s all gaming stuff. Yeah, that works in gaming, but it doesn’t work in this sector. I’m curious, any thoughts on ways that gamification can be used outside of gaming or just generally to kind of increase engagement with other products?

0:09:57 – (Lawrence Valenti): Absolutely. Well, first, I would say gaming has been really at the forefront of kind of creating that sense of purpose with your interactive experience. You have an onboarding where you’re learning or playing. The act of play is really just learning, but playing to figure out how to get Mario to jump and run and hop over and stomp on a little bad guy. And so the onboarding experience and giving a user a context to progress, that they’re doing a good job, telling them and signaling to them that they’re doing things the right way, and then gracefully giving them scaffolding to let them explore a little bit, connect them to the things that they care about the most. Even that sense of purpose.

0:10:53 – (Lawrence Valenti): You could start up a massive gaming portal like Roblox and all just the breadth and depth of content that’s available. But really, we as social animals, kind of want to have a sense of purpose as we start to play and to interact with things. And so nudging gracefully, moving users through the experience to a sense of progress or achievement is really important. I’d also say that just gamification can also…

0:11:26 – (Lawrence Valenti): It gets a bad rap because it’s like you’re just playing with dopamine or you’re trying to give people an incentive to do something. And it’s more just an extra layer of feedback. It’s an extra layer of feedback. When we were little kids in elementary school, we would get a gold star if we did a good job on our assignments, those kind of things are really natural for us. And so adding that in terms of feature layers or feature set is actually really beneficial to your users.

0:11:57 – (Matt Widdoes): Well, I think the other thing, too, that we often see with particularly complicated products, or not necessarily complicated, but maybe they’re highly technical or there’s a lot of edges to it, there’s a lot to be discovered. We’ve all experienced that kind of onboarding where it’s like, okay, you’re going to do this, you’re going to do this. But even taking that a step further, which is we’re not going to necessarily reveal everything all at once, we want you to focus on this one specific thing.

0:12:19 – (Matt Widdoes): Once you’ve done that, you set this portion up and we’ve concluded that we’re going to show you the next part. So we may have sold you on some of those things or explained those benefits, but we’re not going to just leave you to your own devices. We’re going to kind of walk you through this a little bit. And even if our goal as a business is to really, to get you to do this one thing, we know that there’s all these steps that you have to take in between.

0:12:38 – (Matt Widdoes): And if we give you everything at once, you’re going to do nothing. And you would just be like, this is too complicated. And so I think that’s a big piece, even for things like an email service provider or something that’s very dry on its surface. We want to send emails to our customers, so we’re going to do this. Okay, that’s what this product does. But we can’t just take you straight into workflow automations, et cetera. If you haven’t created your base communication and imported a list and done all of these other things in between.

0:13:07 – (Matt Widdoes): Sorry, go ahead.

0:13:09 – (Lawrence Valenti): No, I was just going to say one really fun thing that we do is kind of like a filter, a sanity check in gaming. So I’ll speak on behalf of my fellow game makers out there is the Mom Test, which is like considering, okay, if I gave this experience, whether it’s signing up for a promotion or selling something on a website or playing- you know loading an app and getting someone to invest, seeing if it’s as simple enough to where mom at home would be able to do it without needing any prompting or side-by-side guidance, is a great signal.

0:13:50 – (Lawrence Valenti): And one of those core tenets.

0:13:51 – (Matt Widdoes): It also speaks to the fact that we can become so absorbed in our own product and we’re so familiar with it, that we’re like, oh, yeah, this is easy. And we’re so excited about all the features. We want to put it all in front of them. And you have people that are intimately familiar with something, losing perspective of somebody who’s coming in cold. They have a little bit of information. And so I think that kind of Mom Test that you mentioned of making it simple enough that with very little context and without knowing what happens over the next 15 days with this thing, that you can kind of take that, and there’s incentive and it’s compelling enough that somebody will take step by step by step and that it builds into something that’s much larger.

0:14:33 – (Matt Widdoes): Sorry, go ahead.

0:14:36 – (Lawrence Valenti): I was just going to build on your point that people need to feel like they’re progressing and doing the right thing. And those come in… it started, baby steps, and they progress.

0:14:51 – (Matt Widdoes): Well. And you mentioned a second ago you talked about kind of measurement. And I think that’s another area that is often disconnected from creative, sometimes knowingly, sometimes not, or sometimes unknowingly. But let’s talk about kind of measuring the ROI on design, because I think in some organizations they need to understand that in order to give it the weight that it deserves. And so how do you kind of think through measuring ROI of design generally?

0:15:23 – (Lawrence Valenti): Well, this is probably the most important few sentences I’ll be able to share with you. I would say first, to start off with, what is the actual ROI of doing design? I would like to think of it more as like whenever a user is using a product, they’re not just there to interact with buttons, but there’s an entire journey that that user has gone on. From in the minutes before interacting your product to the actual state of interaction, to then hopefully doing the behavior or the action that you want them to do to, then even afterward when they want to think about it.

0:16:05 – (Lawrence Valenti): Very often we might meet clients that are really focused on marketing and the performance of our advertisement, but maybe not as much about the product experience once the user gets there, or they’re very focused on onboarding or monetization, or like, how do we transact without putting as much consideration towards what happened in the five minutes before when your user saw an ad and discovered your product, but was made aware of it and then went on that journey for a few minutes.

0:16:39 – (Lawrence Valenti): And so I think there’s a massive opportunity for design specifically to kind of impact products, impact their marketing results, and also contribute to growth in a lot of different ways to just give you some hard data that people could Google. Forrester Research released a report a few years back, they interviewed thousands of firms that were kind of leaning into their design, creative and technology expertise, and they found that on average, about one dollars invested just in user experience yielded $100 worth of ROI. So it comes out to like 9900% ROI on the investment of just that one dollar for design.

0:17:30 – (Matt Widdoes): Yeah. And that doesn’t surprise me. It’s funny because I think so often people are focused on the very top of the funnel and the very bottom of the funnel. So they look and say, okay, we shoveled this much money into Paid, and then how much money came out the other end? And not spending a lot of time in between. And you mentioned that journey generally. But I think if you think about it as the clock ticking, somebody’s exposed to an ad, it’s compelling enough that they’ve decided to click.

0:17:54 – (Matt Widdoes): It’s like, the second they click, the clock starts. And what happens over those next five minutes are super important. So if you have a really long form that they have to fill out, not going to be great. If they fill out a short form, and then the next steps are also heavy or misunderstood or unfulfilling at any point, if it crosses their mind, maybe I’ll just pick this back up later. They’re never going to pick it back up. They do, but by most standards they don’t. And so those first few minutes after the click are super important. So it comes down to things like the design of the landing page and is that communicating what they just saw or is that different? We see a lot of people that send people from every ad to the same homepage, which is really inefficient use of mediaspin. And then once they’ve landed on this homepage that maps back to what they just saw, are the next steps clear, and are they easy and actionable? Okay, great.

0:18:45 – (Matt Widdoes): And that can get into product offering. Maybe it’s a free trial, maybe it’s other things that reduce the risk. But tweaking all of those things, whether it is a B2B company where they just want to get a lead and they’re going to have the first call. Okay, fine. But what happens after they schedule? Do they get an email that says it’s booked? Is it really dry and transactional? Or is it exciting? And here’s what to expect on the call. So that when they get on the call, are the salespeople using that, or was that created by a marketing team and the sales team doesn’t, didn’t really follow that?

0:19:11 – (Matt Widdoes): Who’s watching all of that? Who’s going and making sure that every single one of those steps, whether it’s the first five minutes, first five days, first five months, who is managing that holistically and thinking through and measuring what is or isn’t working, coming up with theories on what might be better, testing those, measuring those, reporting on those, making sure that all that evidence is shared. And so I’m really glad that you mentioned that. It doesn’t surprise me that the Forrester Research shows $100 for every dollar invested in UX. We’ve seen similar, not maybe that high, but more like ten to one for every hour spent in planning. And what that pays back on the execution side.

0:19:50 – (Matt Widdoes): And we see that a lot too, where people rush into execution, very little time spent on planning or thinking through all of the implications, and so focused on an output that they’re not really putting any, enough energy into the inputs. And then when the outputs don’t work, they’re like, okay, well, let’s just try this other thing that also hasn’t been researched. And the importance of taking a step back, to really consider that from the user’s perspective is super important.

0:20:15 – (Lawrence Valenti): That’s a great point, Matt.

0:20:16 – (Matt Widdoes): How do you think through mitigating risk in creative generally, and just kind of like, how do you think about maximizing your return on investment as it relates to creative generally?

0:20:28 – (Lawrence Valenti): Yeah. Well, obviously, one of the things that design can hopefully help with is helping product stakeholders, and that’s in many different functions, from product and marketing, to even bringing the product to market, really to derisk their decisions as they go along. Right, so early and often being able to get some validation or early signaling to stuff as simple as a logo. And if that logo resonates with your intended audience, all the way to usability, to even the positioning of the features and benefits of a product.

0:21:15 – (Lawrence Valenti): We’ve collaborated together on everything from brand impression testing, to usability testing, to impression testing. So, like brand testing to make sure, does this brand resonate with the intended target audience? Is it the right color or the right logo, the right headline to then, that impression. Like when someone views a landing page for the first time, what are they taking away from that? To even usability testing and allowing someone to walk through the first 30 seconds of a sign up or onboarding process.

0:21:55 – (Lawrence Valenti): All of these, by the way, can really be done without a single line of code. We’re really lucky now because design tools are so advanced, whether it’s the prototyping that you can do with Figma, to be able to even leverage generative AI, to put out a lot of different variants quickly leveraging consumer insights and seeking that feedback, whether it’s qualitative by having an interview or speaking with people to more quant-focused where you send out a survey to 500 people to get some feedback on which logo or which screen might resonate the most.

0:22:35 – (Lawrence Valenti): These are great ways for product developers, small to large, to be able to kind of derisk some of their decision making early before they even invest in massive teams or larger cross-functional teams to build.

0:22:49 – (Matt Widdoes): Yeah, and we’ve seen like, so many times, there’s what you think you’re selling, and what people are buying and difference sometimes where a company might say, okay, we do this and the main benefits of our products are one, two, three. And then you meet with the customer and you say, well, why did you buy it? And you don’t tell them all the reasons. You don’t prompt them and say, which one did you like, one, two or three? Is that the main thing? You just ask them open-ended, why did you buy it? And you’ll find that they’re buying it for all sorts of different reasons that you haven’t captured and that might be more consistent than what you think you’re selling. So ultimately, whatever reason they’ve chosen to buy is what you’re selling, whether you like it or not.

0:23:23 – (Matt Widdoes): And there’s lots of examples of that, certainly with many products that unintended uses. And then they’re like, oh, I guess people love it for this. We didn’t realize people were using Coca-Cola to clean off a battery. I don’t think Coca-Cola is marketing themselves as a battery cleanser, but that is another use case. And so that’s maybe an extreme example, maybe less illustrative. But so often when you think about usability, same thing with those blinders. You’ve been living and breathing it. You know exactly where the button is.

0:23:52 – (Matt Widdoes): You guys have spent hours hemming and hawing over its size and what it should say and where it should be. And you know, can you click there? And you scroll down like halfway and you click this other button, you move over here to the right, you click this button. But when you put that in front of somebody who’s never done it before and you watch them, you film it and you have the tracking on and you can see where looking, you can see where they’re scrolling and they’re reading everything and you’re like, oh man, that is a lot of words. And they’re getting wrapped up in that and then they’re like, okay, well I guess I click this.

0:24:18 – (Matt Widdoes): And even though it says Click Here Now, and then you’re like, okay. Then they get in this other thing and you can start to see that you’re like, man, we thought that was a 1 minute form. And it turns out when they’re thinking about it, it’s way longer because we take all that stuff for granted. And so, yes, I think speaking with your customers early and often, huge piece. That many, I think everybody knows that they should be doing that. I don’t think anybody hears that and is like, oh, yeah. But when you ask like, okay, well, can you send us the recap of your most recent test?

0:24:49 – (Matt Widdoes): Most companies are very hard-pressed to find that. And then they realize, oh, actually, I guess we haven’t talked to our customers in five years.

0:24:55 – (Lawrence Valenti): And, you know, Matt, to build on your point that in terms of a product development strategy, the answers are out there for all of your functional teams. Engineers want to build, and the data scientists want to create a robust LLM. Everybody, product managers want to be able to validate that what they’re doing is going to deliver on the KPIs that they’re wanting to lift or to achieve. And a lot of these answers are out there just by seeking some simple validation.

0:25:33 – (Lawrence Valenti): Right. And the thing that I really enjoy about creative direction, especially as you allow data to inspire your decision making, is these results can be, these insights can be objective. And when you share these with your teams, suddenly everybody is not only all on the same page, but they have their why. It’s no longer a subjective saying of, I think it should be a blue button instead of a green button.

0:26:02 – (Lawrence Valenti): And instead we’re seeing that the green button yields 3x more clicks than the blue one does. Right. And so I think it’s really powerful. As long as you apply kind of a disciplined approach to your creative, the results can speak to all of the functions.

0:26:23 – (Matt Widdoes): Well, I think that discipline you mentioned around testing and iteration, going back to that kind of return on planning and that return on creative. Right. When you so often I think people are taking some subjective feeling, they maybe even are measuring it. But the amount that, that de-risks everything else that you’re doing is really high. And so it’s like everybody’s desire, it’s almost to go like, slow is fast, fast is slow, and the impact that can have across every function, not just maybe a landing page or an ad unit or whatever, but when you start to stack those and you’ve tested them at a small scale and you’ve already worked out all the kinks and you’ve identified. Okay, now this is a really optimized funnel that we feel really good about. Let’s call that V1. Now, even though we’ve spent months and many tests, many different variants in each one of those, maybe we were down to V8 on lifecycle and landing page and ad unit and messaging and whatever, but all of that has combined where these winners now combine to V1 of that funnel.

0:27:23 – (Matt Widdoes): Great. Ship it, scale it. While that’s scaling, we’re going to be reading that at scale. We’re going to be interpreting what we see. We’re going to be thinking about new optimizations within that that might lead to V2 of the funnel, which is additive of a lot of improvements across the funnel, and the benefit that has versus always being at massive scale. All of the inefficiencies that exist within that, all of the waste on the paid dollars in particular, but also the dev cycles. I mean, I think of, maybe you shouldn’t go into too much specifics, but there was a test we were running at Zynga a long time ago on words with friends about a feature that somebody flagged, and everybody loved the idea, and they wanted to just go all in on. They had already started going all in on the development of the feature, all these other things.

0:28:09 – (Matt Widdoes): And at some point somebody said, have we even asked the customers if they want this? And somebody’s like, no, but they definitely will. I was like, well, we can stand up for a little test, put a test out, realized nobody wanted it. It was like they hated it. It was like a mutiny. They were like, absolutely never want that. Never wanted it. And everyone’s like, oh, I guess that does make sense now that I’ve heard their perspective.

0:28:28 – (Matt Widdoes): And so you could waste all these different cycles, not just on dev, but on all these other things where you’re just making an assumption on an audience and you’re looking at it through your lens, and you’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid internally for so long, you’ve lost sight of what the actual perspective is outside of your walls.

0:28:41 – (Lawrence Valenti): 100%.

0:28:44 – (Matt Widdoes): So one thing that’s come up a lot, certainly in the last year, is on generative AI and all of the things that can be done, not just visually or not just, I guess, in copy and writing, which it seems to be pretty good at right now. And the visual stuff is coming along. I think one year from now it will look drastically different, and it’s still very much in its infancy. But curious to hear your thoughts on the future generally. Not necessarily just on AI, but it could be on process or perspective or any number of other things, but kind of. What do you think?

0:29:18 – (Matt Widdoes): With all of your perspective and historic experience in creative, and having worked with a lot of cross functional teams at massive scale in different industries, I’m curious what you see as kind of forward looking things to consider or that you think will be kind of coming around the corner here in creative.

0:29:34 – (Lawrence Valenti): Yeah, I love that. Well, first of all, it’s a very exciting time to be a designer and a creative working in tech. I’d say last year was a revelation. We all know that artificial intelligence has been around in different paradigms for a while. However, it became part of the conversation for so many. I was able to have conversations with my parents back in Missouri that I never had before because it was now part of what they were seeing in day to day conversation.

0:30:11 – (Lawrence Valenti): I would say that what we would see in the short term, obviously there’s a lot of people now more people have access to creative tools and to be able to try things that maybe they weren’t able to do before. Someone who’s non creative can go and generate imagery instead of having to go and take those art or design courses, to be able to digitally render that themselves. I think that’s awesome. I think that’s awesome. Democratizing creativity, creating tools for people to be able to expose and express are really healthy.

0:30:50 – (Lawrence Valenti): I’m also very inspired by this current cohort of startups and businesses that are going to be founded being able to leverage tools that they didn’t have a few years ago. Right? And so we’re seeing, you and I, 10 or 15 years ago, saw tools and platforms that were allowing us to work faster, whether it be in the gaming industry or other. And now we’re seeing that a lot of productivity is unlocked and presented to people based on these tools.

0:31:27 – (Lawrence Valenti): So I’m excited. I’m an optimist. I’d also say, like in the much shorter term as it relates to creative and design, this is going to be a very exciting year for product development. I’d say that Andreessa Norwitz has a wonderful podcast if people are interested in all things tech and also VC and startup world, and they basically had a podcast not long ago that said last year was the year of the LLMs, but this year is going to be the year of design for AI. And I believe that. I think that right now we know that we have these kind of tools to help generate things from copy, as you mentioned, or imagery, but there’s a little ways to go in making them intuitive and easy to use for the non technical people that they’re made.

0:32:23 – (Lawrence Valenti): ChatGPT is an amazing platform, able to generate robust copy and write eloquent articles for you. But for someone seeing it for the first time, that’s nontechnical. They just see a blank space to put in prompts and that’s intimidating. Right. So I think that for this year, in the very short term, we’re going to see a lot of investment and opportunity for better onboarding, better great intuitive product design, and obviously more intuitive experiences on these tools that are going to unlock an enormous amount of productivity and self expression.

0:33:03 – (Matt Widdoes): Yeah. And I think as that evolves, this is for sure where it will ultimately head is, in my opinion, is thinking through being able to do a lot of the stuff that we do based on our experience and intuition across things like data, across things like paid and creative and lifecycle, all these other things, to be able to put together a holistic strategy that takes into account all of these different functions of the business, is able to analyze the stuff that you’re already doing, is able to kind of highlight the areas where you could be like, hey, we see that given your volume and given the things that you’re already doing in these other areas, you have a huge opportunity in lifecycle.

0:33:40 – (Matt Widdoes): Here are two automations that we think you should run, and here is what the copy and the art would look like. For that, click here if you want me to stand up the workflow and QA it and then I’ll tell you when it’s done. All of that stuff which allows. I think a lot of people get scared of those types of things, but it really frees up people who have the real world experience to ride on top of those things, make them better.

0:34:07 – (Matt Widdoes): Give the machine the things that you would rather a machine do, where you’re like, okay, great, if it’s as good as me on that, then why do I need to do that? I’ll go focus my energy here. And so it’ll be very interesting to see. I don’t think anybody disagrees with the fact that it is and will continue to be, and I think it will only amplify the impact that that has on many sectors. And I think you start to think through regulation, you think through from a copyright standpoint, who owns what in that world. But I think the clear benefit it provides today for non-technicals is the ability to kind of communicate what they do and don’t like, or what directions that they want where they don’t have the words for it. I’m guilty of that where I’m like, I don’t know what I’m looking at. I don’t like.

0:34:56 – (Matt Widdoes): But a machine can. I can be like, more like this, more like this, which is nails on a chalkboard to a creative, because they’re like, you’re going back to what you told me two weeks ago. It’s like, I know, but I had to see this. I needed you to spend, like 100 hours building this so I could tell you I didn’t like it because I’m not capable of envisioning what I was telling you I wanted. And now that I see it, I understand why you were pushing back so much. And I agree. I don’t like that anymore. And that can be very taxing to everybody involved with that. Versus, hey, I cranked this into generative AI.

0:35:27 – (Matt Widdoes): It gave me like 100 variants. I said, I like variant 117, 50 and 30. I like these things about each one. And then it gave me these and here, I like this style, I like this vibe. I like this and this. And a creative can still push back like they might otherwise, but they might say, okay, great, I know exactly what I need to do. I’ll take those. I’ll get you all the variants in that style. And this is our new style. Easy. And we just saved all this time on concepting.

0:35:51 – (Matt Widdoes): That can now be done in literal minutes versus months in some cases with a lot of heartache and headache along the way.

0:35:59 – (Lawrence Valenti): Yeah, I mean, creatives, I’ll speak on behalf of creatives for a moment, but we love to problem solve, and part of that problem solving process is trial and error, is brainstorming, is presenting ideas. I loved how you mentioned that of, like, we need to see it. I think creatives proudly lean into that step in the process of presenting and showing, like, hey, is this what we want to do? And creatives or non creatives, being able to leverage these tools is really going to shorten that timeline of getting to the right answer and getting to the solution. So again, I think we are an exciting time for productivity. We’re an exciting time when it comes to design and creativity. We’re obviously an exciting time in product development and tech.

0:36:53 – (Matt Widdoes): Yeah, no, I agree. And it’s changing quickly. It’ll be very interesting to look back in ten years. And my sense is we’re going to look at this time as like the stone age where we’re like, man, can you believe we used to do all that stuff manually and now it’s been solved? I think there’s a race in pretty much every area of anything that can be handled by AI for somebody to say, okay, hey, I was going to say creative iteration, but let’s take creative off the table, like data mapping and architecture. Okay, we went and solved that. So if your company needs data mapping architecture, you can plug it into this.

0:37:26 – (Matt Widdoes): We analyze multiple, 500 different tech stacks. You can plug in some data here and kind of to your point on the UI/UX and kind of the upleveling and making it easier and more consumable by non technicals to say, okay, great, first steps. First, connect us with GA. What else do you use? Do you use any of these other tools? Great, connect us here. Cool. This is what we see as opportunities. These are next steps, and then that will evolve into, do you want us to do these next steps for you? Click done. Those are done. Okay. Right. And so it is exciting, and I think from anybody who’s building something right now, and you mentioned this earlier, kind of, I don’t know if you use the word envious, but getting to watch these companies who get to start from scratch with all of these tools at their disposal, in some cases maybe even using AI to build an AI product that they go on to sell.

0:38:13 – (Matt Widdoes): We saw this with a headline recently about a guy who essentially created a… I think it was like a bot to write your dating profile or something like that. And it was just like really good at it. And it was replying to people and sending messages on your behalf, and they’re just waiting. The person who’s using it is just like waiting for people to say yes versus writing out things or whatever.

0:38:34 – (Lawrence Valenti): Conversion event.

0:38:35 – (Matt Widdoes): Yeah, exactly. Yeah. It’s just like, all I do now is collect yes’s versus having to do the seeding and farming or whatever steps have to take place in between. So it’s interesting, it’s cool to be at a kind of pivotal point in history, really, of something this powerful, be so connected to that with a lot of the work that we’re doing on the client side and friends of ours are doing elsewhere, for sure. Cool.

0:38:58 – (Lawrence Valenti): Yeah.

0:38:58 – (Matt Widdoes): Well, Lawrence, I think we could go even deeper into a lot of these things, but I think, I know that we’ve got limited time today. So thanks again for joining us. I look forward to doing another one. And maybe we could just spend the entire time talking about AI and its role in creative and maybe some of the coolest products that we currently see on the market for that, that people can kind of self serve on.

0:39:17 – (Matt Widdoes): But really appreciate you taking the time today.

0:39:19 – (Lawrence Valenti): Yeah, this was fun. Matt, thanks for having me. And again, appreciate comparing notes with you. It’s always fun.

0:39:24 – (Matt Widdoes): Yeah, agreed. All right, cool. Well, we’ll do it again sometime soon.

0:39:27 – (Lawrence Valenti): See ya.

0:39:28 – (Matt Widdoes): Thanks again. Thanks for tuning into this episode of Growth@Scale. We hope you enjoyed this conversation, discussing the case for design, the role psychology plays, and the importance of measurement and risk reduction through iterative testing and consumer insights.

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