Hey, you startup/bootstrapping/engineering type/entrepreneur!
Here’s a secret to success: Design Deeper.
I just finished up Thomas Goetz’s How to Spot the Future article for Wired Magazine on my iPad during lunch today. The piece discusses 7 rules for identifying the trends, tech and ideas that will change the world. There are some pretty good ideas and things to watch.
Rule number 6 really resonated with me this morning in terms of product design, web design, poster design… well, really all kinds of design.
“Demand Deep Design”
In four short paragraphs, Mr Goetz illustrates just how much design we are inundated with every day. And, he uses examples of how a little more thought into design has either helped or killed companies. Apple, of course, is the easy example.
His better illustration, however, is the difference between Facebook and MySpace. “No company has managed [deep design] better than Facebook, which has outstripped MySpace because if offered constraint over chaos and rigor of randomness….Privacy concerns aside, Facebook has helped people bring design into their lives as never before, letting us curate our friends, categorize our family photos and bring … continuity to our personal histories.”
His point, for this rule, is that thinking about how your product is going to be perceived and added into our already busy lives, needs to happen hand in hand with the rest of the development and engineering process.
Real World Design
In my own career, I see wonderfully thought up and cleverly engineered products come into my studio all the time. Most of which are missing the application of key deep design thinking when it comes to the packaging and instructions. (And, then there are the products which are not wonderfully thought up or cleverly engineered… But, but those are a whole ‘nuther article.)
In one particularly bad case, the widget was shipped to me by the marketing director for a simple product shot. After opening the box and attempting to assemble it for over a half an hour, I had to call the company and ask for a tech to walk me through the process, which took another half an hour.
Now, I know I am not the smartest guy in the room, but I like to think I am not a complete noob when it comes to these things. The tech slowly walked me through the process, referencing his screen and having me page back and forth in the 40 page manual. He proudly told me how it was assembled differently than their competition’s similar product and why that was cool.
Design for the Real Bottom Line?
Yes, I am aware that those who know the product and work with it all the time will be completely comfortable with it, having been initiated into the secret club years ago by their managers.
But, anyone who did not have any experience with that product – or, only had experience with the competitions’ device – they would have been on the phone to tech support. Or, worse, at the Returns desk.
Why not print simple, clean, easy to read instructions on the side of the box, on the reverse of the card or on the device itself?
Why not get an illustrator to make a really clean drawing of the install?
Why not make the product so simple that no one could possibly insert it upside down?
The cost of taking the little time to make it easy for your customers will be offset by the drop in returns and the need for constant tech support. It will ingratiate you with a new customer. It may make life easier for more than just one person, too.
Your company’s reputation, brand, reviews, etc, will be spread far and wide as the company that makes life easier for its customers.
Isn’t that better than the opposite reasons to talk about a company?