Why every Product Designer must watch the movie 12 Angry Men


Oct 9, 2018

12 Angry Men and Product Design by Sona
12 Angry Men and Product Design by Sona
12 Angry Men and Product Design by Sona

“One man is dead, another man’s life is at stake.”

The film opens with the Judge’s monologue stating the Jurors need to come up with a unanimous verdict against a boy who was charged with murdering his dad. The story is all about how one Juror, the protagonist (Henry Fonda) slowly breaks the prejudice of other Jurors and influences them toward an unbiased verdict.

The movie has so many aspects that convey most of the common traits that every product designer must possess.

Empathize and help empathize:

The story starts with Henry empathizing with the boy and pulling others one by one to do so. The first and foremost trait for every Product Designer is to empathize. Empathizing with the users would result in an engaging product.


In the first voting, all but Henry voted guilty. Though some of the Jurors were not sure of their choice, they took the side of the majority. Henry advised them to investigate the situation in detail. Design decisions taken with proper analysis would pave the way for a usable product.

12 Angry Men - investigate - Sona.Design

Stay tenacious:

All the other Jurors emotionally tried to convince Henry that the boy is guilty. But, he stayed strong and rational in his decision of investigating the situation. Being tenacious would help tackle problems better.

Communicate efficiently:

Henry communicated his thoughts clearly, which made others consider his ideas. Communicating the thoughts and design decisions efficiently to the stakeholders would keep everyone on the same page.

Ask questions:

Henry started asking the right questions about the trial which raised reasonable doubts in everyone’s mind. Sometimes questions are more powerful than answers. Asking the right questions is a great way to understand stakeholders’ thoughts.


Henry facilitated the discussion right from the beginning and gave space for others to contribute to the discussion. Facilitating the design discussions would enable everyone to add value and help discover uncommon insights.

12 Angry Men - facilitate - Sona.Design

Pay attention to detail:

The Old Juror had observed even the smallest details of the witnesses during the trial. His attention to detail such as the lady’s spectacle marks and the old man’s appearance threw light on the possibilities. Having an eye for detail would reduce the chances of failure.


Most of the time the Jurors extrapolated what could have possibly happened on the murder night with the details from the exhibits and the trial. Especially the old Juror’s extrapolation about the old man shifted the argument drastically. Extrapolating the scenario is a great way to start a discussion.


Though the Stock Broker was not convinced, he was all ears for everyone’s input. It helped him analyze the problem better and come up with the right verdict in the end. Listening would enable us to understand what truly matters and aid us to solve real user needs.

Learn to ignore:

All the other Jurors ignored the garage owner one by one when he tried to loudmouth. That brought him back to normal after a while. Most of the time the best way to tackle loudmouths is to just ignore them for a while.

12 Angry Men - ignore-loudmouths - Sona.Design

Don’t be emotional:

Towards the end, everyone voted not guilty except Juror#3, the messenger service owner. It made him so emotional that it ruined his sanity and killed his decision-making ability. Being ready to break our emotions with our designs would pave the way for a better product.

dont-be-emotional - Sona.Design

Put aside your prejudices:

The verdict came to a conclusion only when the messenger service owner got rid of his prejudice. Prejudice obscures the truth. Not just the Product Designer, but all the team members need to keep prejudices aside for the greater good of what we create.

Keep it minimal:

The essence of the film is projected so strongly even though 93 out of 96 minutes of the film was shot in a single room. Less, but better. This is what is being preached by Dieter Rams, Steve Jobs, and every industry expert out there. Though simple is hard to achieve, it will make the product stand out from the crowd.

This movie is a masterpiece! Every character and scene in the film was crafted with the utmost attention. If you’re yet to watch it, just do it. Even if you had watched it already, it’s worth watching it again with designer glasses on.