Is Good Design Making us Stupid?

Jeremy Keith writes:

Convenience. Ease of use. Seamlessness.

On the face of it, these all seem like desirable traits in digital and physical products alike. But they come at a price. When we design, we try to do the work so that the user doesn’t have to. We do the thinking so the user doesn’t have to. Don’t make the user think. But taken too far, that mindset becomes dangerous.

Marshall McLuhan said that every extension is also an amputution. As we augment the abilities of people to accomplish their tasks, we should be careful not to needlessly curtail what they can do:

Here we are, a society hell bent on extending our reach through phones, through computers, through “seamless integration” and yet all along the way we’re unwittingly losing perhaps as much as we gain. The mediums we create are built to carry out specific tasks efficiently, but by doing so they have a tendency to restrict our options for accomplishing that task by other means. We begin to learn the “One” way to do it, when in fact there are infinite ways. The medium begins to restrict our thinking, our imagination, our potential.

The idea of “seamlessness” as a desirable trait in what we design is one that bothers me. Technology has seams. By hiding those seams, we may think we are helping the end user, but we are also making a conscience choice to deceive them (or at least restrict what they can do).

Hmm…food for thought, but perhaps along the same line of reasoning as “Is Google making us stupid?”

I do see Jeremy’s point, but if we treat technology as tool that helps the user achieve his goals, “seamlessness” just becomes the grease that makes achieving that goal a whole lot quicker.

Via: Adactio

Get your Elevator Pitch right for your Design Strategy to Work

In a rare interview with Fastcompany, CEO Dietrich Mateschitz shares his thoughts about what Red Bull is all about.

What Red Bull stands for is that it “gives you wings…,” which means that it provides skills, abilities, power etc. to achieve whatever you want to. It is an invitation as well as a request to be active, performance-oriented, alert, and to take challenges. When you work or study, do your very best. When you do sports, go for your limits. When you have fun or just relax, be aware of it and appreciate it.

“Gives you Wings…” has to be one of the best Elevator Pitch I’ve seen. It is finely crafted, well thought out, concise, and meaningful.

Just like Red Bull, elevator pitches are something many companies should also take a moment to get right. This is because elevator pitches (or some say brand taglines) are a great way to communicate your purpose or what you are all about to your customers.

Do you have an elevator pitch? Does it match what you are all about? Do your customers get it? Do your customers really care? A no to any of these questions usually means a lot of soul searching is required.

The urban legend for an elevator pitch was all about a hungry entrepreneur who, in the time it took for an elevator ride from the ground floor to the top floor, had to convince a CEO of a large corporation to invest in him. It’s an urban legend as to date; there has not been any evidence that it was a successful way to raise money. But the romanticism of the idea stuck.

Elevator pitches are usually made up of a few sentences and describes what your idea, company, purpose is all about. Gamestorming (Amazon Link) has a great example on how to construct an Elevator Pitch. Get together with your team and brainstorm the answers to the following questions. Then fill in the pitch sentence at the end.

Going through the exercise involves both a generating and forming phase. To setup the generating phase, write these questions in sequence on flip-charts:

Who is the target customer?
What is the customer need?
What is the product name?
What is its market category?
What is its key benefit?
Who or what is the competition?
What is the product’s unique differentiator?

These will become the elements of the pitch. They are in a sequence that follows the formula: For (target customer) who has (customer need), (product name) is a (market category) that (one key benefit). Unlike (competition), the product (unique differentiator).

This is a good and fast way to get your elevator pitch together. It’s a great start, but it will take more time to refine it, test and validate it to get it right especially if you want to include your organisation’s purpose in it. Consider your Elevator Pitch a living document that is always in Beta.

Here is Design Sojourn’s elevator pitch, which took me about 50 tries to get right.

We help our clients leverage on Design Led Innovation to make people’s lives better.

The objective of our pitch was to get our clients to understand what we do in a nutshell, and then contact us for more information should the pitch resonated with them. So far it has been working well for us, but we are still looking to improve it.

But why is it important for your design strategy?

I have found that a strong elevator pitch is very powerful in communicating a design strategy or your design principles. While most elevator pitches are used outwards towards your customers as brand taglines, a well-crafted elevator pitch can be used to drive a design strategy internally through multiple departmental levels or business units. The fact that a well-crafted pitch often lacks jargon and is easy to understand, helps many people (especially non-designers or design thinkers) to get it immediately and thus increase the chance for a more consistent execution of an idea.

Why not try creating an elevator pitch in your next design or business strategy workshop, and let me know how it goes?

Via: Medium.

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