Useful, usable and desirable. Those are the buzz words of utility. And they are amazingly relevant. If your company’s product or service doesn’t fulfill those three tenets, you are in jeopardy of becoming, well, quite frankly, irrelevant, not used and not needed.
As marketing and advertising change gears from a model of disruption and intrusion to a model of audiences choosing the who, what, where and when to engage a brand, the agencies that are versed in user-centric design strategies are the ones that feel at home in this landscape. These three basic principles are no secret to digital agencies and have worked over the last decade. To us, it has always been about user-centric design. Our products have always been subject to precise scrutiny, usability tests, human factors and user analysis. In many ways, digital designers share several commonalities with architects, designers of cars, furniture, products and software. Our products are built to enable people to experience something meaningful and help them achieve their tasks and goals.
So how do you start moving to a user-centric approach for marketing, product and services development? Simple. Make understanding your user’s/customer’s goals and their needs a 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. Companies will say, “We know our customers … we did research years ago, but our audience is simple and hasn’t changed in years. Our customers are complex. There is no way we could understand them entirely. There are too many audiences and we’d never get through the research.”
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 whose computer it will be installed on. 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. Additionally, there are many ways to get at user needs and goals that are agile and still provide relevance and meaning to a project.
Advertising is obviously changing. It is no longer satisfying for consumers to merely receive brand messages to inform their decisions. Brands must now 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.
You want innovation? Start with the understanding of your customers’ needs, goals and desires. And then unleash a creative agency on ways to excite, delight and solve those customer challenges and passions.
Senior Vice President-
Global Practice Leader-Digital
This has also been posted on Mike Tittel’s blog at: http://artistinthefield.blogspot.com/