Horribly Outdated Marriage Advice That’s Surprisingly Good for Startups

Oh, how times have changed! The advice below may be less-than-progressive, but there’s no denying that keeping one’s… er… “customer” happy is top priority. UX and product designers would probably do well to heed the overall message of these carefully curated snips of advice.


“Be a good listener. Let him tell you his troubles; yours will seem trivial in comparison. Remember your most important job is to build up and maintain his ego.” “Sex Today in Wedded Life” Edward Podolsky, 1943

Arguably the most important thing that a product designer learns is to listen to their audience. If you sit back and just observe, customers will tell you what they want. Sure, we have to do our research and translate that into real features, but aligning product decisions with real customer needs and requests makes your audience feel like part of the team. That’s a winning strategy for most tech companies.


“Prepare yourself: Take 15 minutes to rest so you will be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. Be a little gay and a little more interesting. His boring day may need a lift.” “The Good Wife’s Guide” Housekeeping Monthly, 1955

Consistently producing quality creative output is nearly impossible if we don’t take time to refuel. Creative inspiration can come from anywhere. Personally, I try to schedule some time every few days to sit and review the latest on portfolio sites like Dribbble, flip through some boards on Pinterest. At least twice a month, I sit with a cup of coffee and my sketchnoting book while listening to theTedx talks I’ve bookmarked. Learning to make this time a top priority has been difficult, but feeling up to date with my industry is just the confidence boost needed to keep me creating.


“Your goal: Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can renew himself.” “The Good Wife’s Guide” Housekeeping Monthly, 1955

One of my favourite quotes to remind clients of our goal in scoping sessions is from Jack Dorsey (co-founder of Twitter & Square): “You have to make every single detail perfect. And you have to limit the number of details.” Simplicity and minimalism is no fad or trend. When planning features, asking bottom-line questions is key: What is the ONE thing that we want our users to achieve while using our product? What is our user’s natural sequence of actions, and how can we change that as little as possible? What problem are we trying to solve?


“Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgement or integrity. Remember he is the master of the house.” The Good Wife’s Guide” Housekeeping Monthly, 1955

Most of us have had the experience of designing a feature that we thought was brilliant, only to have our test group deliver crushing feedback. It’s not uncommon for a product team to get really emotionally and creatively attached to an idea, but if your users aren’t buying into it or understanding it, then something is wrong. Users embrace features they love and understand, and reject frustrating ones – no exceptions.  Analytics and other tracking tools like Optimizely and Crazy Egg can help assess where the disconnect is between ideas and reality.

Have a comment or thought? I want to hear it! Join the discussion by tweeting @ashleymarinep or on Facebook.