Designing Parking Magic
SpotHero’s Chief Product Officer Anthony Broad-Crawford grew up with an entirely different career focus: music. As part of an elite youth orchestra where “music was his life,” Anthony played trumpet, piano and guitar, with ambitions of continuing his music career at a professional level into college and beyond. The collective effort of translating notes on a page into an artform for human consumption required constant creativity and focus. It was gratifying.
In the late 90s, Anthony entered college at the Bowling Green State University, and, on a whim, signed up for a computer science class. Learning to code shared many characteristics with orchestra; it too required creativity, focus, a sense of harmony. It too was a designed effort that transcended written language into something that enhanced the human experience. He was immediately hooked, and never looked back.
Since that epiphany, over the course of nearly two decades, Anthony has built and scaled multiple tech companies, always with an emphasis on design. Long before it was popularized by Amazon, he learned elastic computing on Progressive Insurance’s technology team from 2001-2007. As CTO of healthcare communications company Within3, Anthony assembled a team to accelerate growth through 2012. As GiveForward CPO through 2013, he drove product and design while increasing revenues from $8M from $100M, and later, as CTO at Fooda, merged product, technology and design.
In January 2015, Anthony joined SpotHero, the nation’s leading parking reservation service, as chief product officer, responsible for strategy, user experience, product design, and data sciences. SpotHero provides easy, affordable, book-ahead parking options to drivers in major cities through an online or mobile app interface. In this new role, Anthony saw not just opportunity, but responsibility—to transform the traditional, largely analog parking industry into a design-thinking, user-centric point of experience for drivers worldwide.
As Anthony builds his team and works toward this mission, he’s shared a few guiding design principles that fuel his efforts at SpotHero:
For companies serving an industry on the cusp or in the midst of major evolution, there are many unknowns. Accordingly, hiring efforts should zero in on candidates who eagerly seek growth and learning opportunities. Investing in adaptability and curiosity over tenureship within a craft is critical to building world-class experiences based on world-class technology.
Design thinking is both quantitative and qualitative, and agile methodology is a great way to make it a tangible effort across product and UX. Design sprints, following Google Ventures’ Playbook, rely on a constrained, 5-day timeline and an ambitious agenda, allowing outcomes to flourish quickly. The process, Anthony says, marries big thinking with microscopic focus, pulling in marketing, sales, customer service, and founders for feedback and review by end of week. “These constraints are liberating,” he explains. “They can be a force-function to move, release, grow, and adjust quickly.”
Give Design a Seat at the Table
To really make a difference, Anthony is quick to point out, design thinking needs to permeate the entire organization—not just the product team. It needs a “seat at the table” of any forward-thinking tech corporation. Elegantly designed products create experiences that feel effortless—magical, even—and all departments and leadership need to rally around the business of creating that feeling. To Anthony, success here will be obvious for SpotHero: “When we do our jobs right, our users will never even have to touch the phone to park,” Anthony says. “They may not even have to launch the app.”
Music to a busy driver’s ears.