Usability and the race to be the first product to market

Experiences designed to be accessible & usable by everyone are not always a key focus. inspired by Sinead Burke, we take a look at how design has impacted the experiences of the people around us. Design goes a lot further than just aesthetics, design directly impacts the way we experience our daily lives. From the buildings we live in & work, through to the packaging on the food we buy. By using design, companies have been provided with the opportunity to assist their customers achieving the greatest experience possible. Utilizing the tools available, the individuals involved during the design process have the opportunity to shape a user’s experience. However, not everyone is always considered during planning, & this is fine! But sometimes a small, or large, subset of users will be left unconsidered. Selective target groups & marketing allow for further expansion of the user’s experience, as it can be tailored specifically to suit their exact needs. However, when the target group is limited, some people will miss out on experiencing, what could be: amazing. Take Sinead Burke’s experience ordering coffee:

“Now, the bathroom is an example of where design impinges upon my dignity, but the physical environment impacts upon me in much more casual ways too, something as simple as ordering a cup of coffee. Now, I’ll admit it. I drink far too much coffee. My order is a skinny vanilla latte, but I’m trying to wean myself off the syrup. But the coffee shop, it’s not designed well, at least not for me. Queuing, I’m standing beside the pastry cabinet and the barista calls for the next order. “Next, please!” they shout. They can’t see me. The person next to me in the queue points to my existence and everyone is embarrassed. I order as quick as I can and I move along to collect my coffee. Now, think just for a second. Where do they put it? Up high and without a lid. Reaching up to collect a coffee that I have paid for is an incredibly dangerous experience.”

When creating a new experience for a user base. Considerations and parameters regarding all aspects of the platform must be put into place, otherwise you risk high drop-off/bounce rates. Techniques utilized can range from a single empathy map, all the way through to the precise examination of the users thought process. It is always useful to remember that during the lifetime of an experience, the user’s emotions can range from that of utter frustration, to complete happiness & joy.

Implementations in daily life:

Control rooms all over the world have the power to alter the day to day lives of millions of users. from simple notification to a carefully-implemented news update. Every single second of a user’s experience is carefully planned & filled with meaning. Otherwise, the platform risks, all too quickly, losing the users interest. In order to counteract this, the providers will (generally) utilize the ability to manipulate their users into continuing to use their platform through a few basic psychological techniques. Take Tristan Harris’s experience while working as a design ethicist at Google:

“…Because when you pull out your phone and they design how this works or what’s on the feed, it’s scheduling little blocks of time in our minds. If you see a notification, it schedules you to have thoughts that maybe you didn’t intend to have. If you swipe over that notification, it schedules you into spending a little bit of time getting sucked into something that maybe you didn’t intend to get sucked into. When we talk about technology, we tend to talk about it as this blue sky opportunity. It could go any direction. And I want to get serious for a moment and tell you why it’s going in a very specific direction. Because it’s not evolving randomly. There’s a hidden goal driving the direction of all of the technology we make, and that goal is the race for our attention. Because every new site — TED, elections, politicians, games, even meditation apps — have to compete for one thing, which is our attention, and there’s only so much of it. And the best way to get people’s attention is to know how someone’s mind works…”

Highly effective teams:

Steven R. Covey was an American educator, author, businessman & keynote speaker. He was the pioneer behind the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, as well as, The 8th Habit. Both books are an amazing read & we highly recommend them.

During the course of The 8th Habit, Covey takes a look at some the techniques available in order to build a highly effective team, here is just a snippet of his advice:

  1. Focus on the Wildly Important. People are naturally wired to focus on only one thing at a time and still do an excellent job. The more goals, the lower the chance of achieving them all. Focus intensely on a few crucial goals.
  2. Create a Compelling Scoreboard. People play differently when they’re keeping score. Without crystal-clear measures of success, they are never sure what the goal truly is. The same goal may be understood by different people in different ways. Your scoreboard should identify your key measures and represent them visually. For each priority, provide three elements: the current result, the target result, and the deadline for hitting the target.
  3. Translate Goals into Specific Actions. All the top people may know what the goals are, but that doesn’t mean that the front line knows what to do. Goals will never be achieved until everyone knows exactly what he or she is supposed to do about them. Ultimately, the front line produces the bottom line. Translate your organization’s goals into weekly and daily tasks.
  4. Hold Each Other Accountable, All the Time. A self-empowering team focuses and refocuses in frequent accountability sessions that move key goals forward. There’s “triage reporting” that quickly covers the vital few issues, leaving the less important ones for later, followed by finding third alternatives for moving goals forward. Managers agree to do things that only they can do, and to enable workers to achieve.

These 4 guidelines for highly effective teams, & individuals, can be translated & implemented into actionable plans. And with the ability to bring-about change instantaneously in almost any workforce, now is a greater time than ever to be doing just that.

Rylan Ziesing

Founder and Director, Rhino Design.