Satisfaction by Design [keep it simple, keep it fun, keep it irresistibly relevant]

Human beings today exist in an environment almost completely structured by design. The spaces in which we live, the ways we move from place to place, the tools we use to accomplish our goals, even the things we eat and drink show the influence of generations of thought and planning. Whether they realize it or not, designers wield tremendous power. – The Insight Labs

I was reading an article by The Insight Labs on a series of interviews they had with various different genres of designers about designing for deeper needs, and even though they were talking more in the context of applying design to serving humanity, that got me thinking deeply about making design more ‘human’ in our approach to mapping out experiences for our consumers. A lot can be said about the bottom-up approach to designing a product or service that is being developed for the wild. It takes a lot of discipline on the part of the team developing the product or service to not only ask themselves what problem they are trying to solve, but to sketch out how they want the experience to be from the end user’s standpoint while trying to solve the problem, before even getting started with developing a solution. I digress.

Designers know the amount of influence they have on an end user’s behavior simply by catering to that user’s wants, however, how often do we satisfy a user’s wants, only to neglect their needs in the context of the wants we plan to satisfy? For instance, fashion designers design a shirt and spark up a trend, certain other designers pick up on this trend and design shirts in the same theme, but use poor seams or materials that break down after going through the laundry process 3 times. In this scenario, we satisfied the want for a consumer to look trendy, but totally ignored their need for the shirt to be durable enough to stand the test of time. Needless to say, this differentiates the fashion brands that stand the test of time compared to the ones that are around for a while, then fade away.

In the context of a service, I think of a restaurant. An individual discovers that there is a lack of Maldivian cuisine; rich in vegetables and seafood, in an area where a significant number of people have visited the Maldives and absolutely loved the cuisine. So, they decide to start a Maldivian restaurant in this area. They secure everything needed to prepare and serve the food, however, the restaurant gets started, and the food is great, but they get poor service ratings. Reason, the place is always filled with people waiting to place their order, then waiting to get served. Understandable, there is always the problem of unlimited wants with limited resources. Does this mean they should hire more waiters and/or servers? Not necessarily. However, people who enjoyed Maldivian cuisine have a need to re-live their experience in the Maldives. The Maldives is an island known for serenity and aquatic splendor. People go there for their need to clear their minds and enjoy the views while having some adult beverages. Not quite congruent with their experience at this Maldivian restaurant. Opportunities to make the restaurant service space feel more like the Maldives? My guess is people would totally ignore the waiting time if they could relive a part of their Maldivian experience here in the restaurant. Large aquariums with sea greens and sexy background music? Context.

Pairing up the satisfaction of consumer’s wants with their needs comes at a cost both to the product or service owner, and then the consumer. But, if the owner is able to design a solution that caters to a consumer’s needs in the context of the wants being satisfied, then the market can be saturated even more. The product or service becomes irresistible. People will be willing to pay more for it. This is where the age long question to a business owner; ‘if I had one more dollar to invest in my business, where would I invest it in?’ is answered. I’d say invest it in an area that satisfies the needs of your consumers while you are catering to their wants. Phrase of reference- keep it simple, keep it fun, keep it irresistibly relevant.

On a totally {un}related note, the phrase originally read “keep it simple, keep it sexy, keep it irresistibly relevant” when I wrote this article. After some feedback, I realized a broader audience would appreciate it if the phrase said “fun” instead of “sexy”. Semantics. Let’s all just get along.

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