The Digital Advantage: User-Centric Design

As marketing and advertising change gears from a model of disruption and intrusion to a model of audiences choosing where and when to engage a brand, agencies that are versed in user-centric design strategies are the ones that are going to be best positioned to support brands. These basic principles are not new to digital agencies where it has always been about the user experience, subjecting our work to precise scrutiny, usability tests, human factors and user analysis. Digital designers aren’t so different from architects, automotive engineers and furniture designers: We make stuff that enables people to experience something meaningful and helps them achieve their tasks and goals.

So how do you move to a user-centric approach for marketing? Simple. Make understanding the customer’s goals and needs your top priority. Drive hard to mine the user insight needed to create great experiences.

Time, priority and money are the roadblocks. User research is the intangible marketing spend that is seemingly unnecessary to the end deliverable. But not spending time on user research and analysis is a critical mistake. It is like trying to design a chair without understanding who will be sitting in it, or creating software without considering on what kind of computer it will be installed. Innovation occurs when users’ challenges are understood, new solutions are explored, and the selected solutions become successful and critical for the end audience’s achievement of their goal. And any user research is better than none. In many cases, focusing on key audiences will inherently take care of the secondary audience’s needs.

Brands must create two-way experiences that are useful, usable and desirable in the achievement of a user’s goals. Where those user goals align with a brand’s business objective is the marketing sweet spot.

 

by Mike Tittel
Executive Creative Director – Cincinnati

Follow Mike on Twitter @tittel.

Cross-posted at Ignite Something on the Forbes CMO Network