Thursday, October 2, 2008

Design Trends in an era of Less Junk and Increased Customer Delight.

We are rapidly entering an era of Less Junk and Increased Customer Delight.

The single biggest trend I see impacting design is the increased focus on the complete user experience. Whether it is hardware, software, or a pure service, a compelling experience is going to matter more and more in an increasingly social networked, mobility connected, time impoverished world.

We consumers of products and services simply will not tolerate products and services that waste our valuable time and provide a poor experience. We will tell our friends about them, often from the point of experience on our smartphones and other connected devices. On a related note, feedback would be more prevalent if companies had sensors in the ground to capture valuable customer feedback AND if the mechanisms to provide said feedback were not part of the user experience problem – efforts to visit a website on a smartphone to provide feedback to a company is too daunting save for the most diligent, persistent, handheld user.

Guilt by proximity is another trend that will impact poor design. It won’t matter where the software driver resides or who wrote it, the product experience that relies upon it had better work flawlessly. If it does not, then everything in the product experience chain will be blamed. One only need look at people that depart from the Microsoft platform for the greener pastures of a more controlled Mac ecosystem to understand the lack of tolerance for open systems that don’t play well together. Perpetual churn on mobile devices and with mobile network operators is no different. Airlines, automobiles, TV, supermarkets, etc. are all suffering the same, mostly invisible fate.

Soon (I hope) poorly designed product experiences will not move and the marketplace penalties for shipping junk and providing poor experiences will be even more hard felt by companies that continue to do so.

The increasing connection to customers is another emerging trend. People will use your product in ways that you did not anticipate and demand it interact with other products and in situations you didn't think of. Better get connected to your customers. Feedback is everything.

Product Innovators and Marketers that can get the sensors in the ground and stay connected to customers and what matters to them will earn their firms great returns. Companies that lack this customer connection and experience focus will stagnant and go away.

ID firms, agencies and other innovation centers that help firms to stay connected to customers will also do well in the new era of Less Junk and Increased Customer Delight.

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