Tag Archives: humans

Design to evolve

If you are ever asked to design any technological solution/product/service, here is a quick tip …

Assume that what you design is wrong.

That is not to say you are wrong.

You may design a great solution, but if it includes technology, it will be a solution for today; a solution designed with today’s mindset, today’s products and today’s expectations from services. The more technology included, the greater the risk of premature ageing.

Instead of defining a solution for today, think about how you can design for the future.

How can you design a solution that can be adapted, upgraded, changed, replaced?

The way to do this is to assume that things will change. If you had to replace or upgrade key parts, whether software or hardware could you easily and cost effectively do this?

Can users do this? Can end users modify the solution to improve it or do you want to maintain complete control?

If you can do this, you start to change the solution from a single standalone solution to a system. An upgradable, living system that can evolve. If you do that, you start to change the economics of the solution or product too. If you can extend the lifespan, you can positively impact the cost of ownership and start to potentially justify a higher price. More importantly you can quickly respond to competitive changes, avoid retooling factories for minor improvements  and ultimately and lower costs. If you can engage users, you can start to build a community of supporters who can create on top of your work and evolve from having a system into having an ecosystem and ultimately a platform.

Before you get carried away though, never lose sight of one vital question – how do you maintain quality? If your name is on the box, if you are taking the money and selling the service, then quality is your problem. So the decision is not simply about opening up everything, it is about allowing managed evolution. It is a balance between having inflexibility which you have ultimate control over (but which could be poor), or ultimate freedom, which could mean that you are left selling a product or solution that others are deriving the majority of the benefits from.

If in doubt over any area, one quick tip: Focus on human needs. Not sanitised artificial segmentations, but real human needs. These are the enduring attributes of people; their behaviours; their relationships; their wants; their loves. Though technology has changed, these attributes haven’t.





Consumer technology needs to enable human ambitions to be of enduring value

Consumer technology needs to enable and empower human actions and ambitions to be valuable.

If you cannot clearly articulate the human value proposition for any given technology go back to the drawing board because you have not designed useful technology but unnecessary junk. It may be functional, it may even be aesthetically pleasing, but it is still junk. If it has no clear human benefit, it is junk. The benefit may be fun, it may be practical, but it still needs to exist.

Every piece of enduring technology from the Braun alarm clock to the Hoover vacuum cleaner; from the biro pen to the iPod can be expressed in terms of human benefit.

When the value of a technology is expressed solely in self referential terms, with the product describing what has, not what it can do for people, there can be no judgement other than failure because it is unnecessary to the buyer.

Far too many technology companies set the bar too low and forget about the most important factor in the product, the person.

Not the buyer, not the user, not any one of a dozen personas, but the human.

Not a demographic, not a segment, not a persona, but a human.

They express the description in functional terms, list features and detail technical attributes.

Successful consumer products don’t focus on the function, they focus on the human value.

If you want to be successful at consumer product or service design, don’t start with what you can do, start with why someone will care.