Beyond “The Last Lecture”: Design lessons I learned from Randy Pausch


This week will mark the fifth anniverary of Randy Pausch’s death. Randy was a passionate educator and mentor, and in his final years, he gained worldwide recognition for “The Last Lecture,” as well as for the bravery he publicly displayed facing a terminal illness.

I was one of many graduate students he taught at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center (the ETC), which he co-founded. His lessons about the role of collaboration in design – and more, about how to collaborate effectively – have profoundly influenced my career and work as a designer, including my work with startups. Here are three of Randy’s lessons that I think are essential for anyone who hopes to build products for a living.

Lesson 1: Test early, test often.

Randy made observing guests (he never used the label “users”) a fundamental element of good design with his students: Get people to try your work early on, and…

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