Design That Hits The Spot » Mind Tools Blog

Design That Hits The Spot

November 24, 2014

©GettyImages/ rvlsoft

Well-Designed-CoverAs a former news journalist who’s discovered a love of blogging from the heart, it’s incredibly satisfying when readers get in touch to tell me that my writing has spoken to them on a deep level – that they feel understood or less alone.

These unexpected connections with strangers have marked some of the most meaningful moments of my long career, which is why Jon Kolko’s message in “Well Designed” really struck a chord.

The book reminded me about the power of engaging with people on an emotional level, whatever type of work we do. It says that the best way to build a loyal following is through designing products or services that show that we truly understand our customers and their needs.

In this audio clip, from our review of this book, we hear how important it is to identify with customers, and what this might mean in practice.

Listen to the full Book Insight in the Mind Tools Club ¦ Install Flash Player.

While I’m not a designer, I am writing a book, and getting to know my audience is an important part of that process – if I want to write something that sells. What are my potential readers interested in? What questions do they have that I can answer?

I also found the author’s tips on drawing up a product design strategy relevant to my work. He suggests writing an “emotional value proposition” – a promise to produce value for a customer or consumer.

If you’re a designer, this promise should shape the design process every step of the way and guide your decisions as you create marketing and advertising campaigns. The first question to ask yourself when trying to come up with your promise is: what can someone do after using or buying my product that they couldn’t do before?

But this is just half the story. These days, many people are just as interested in how a product or service makes them feel. I’m one of those people.

I recently got a new mobile phone as my iPhone had been playing up. I was well aware that I could save myself some money by not going down the Apple route. There are so many good smartphones to choose from right now, but I was pretty sure that I’d miss my iPhone and all of its features if I switched, so I agreed to pay a little more each month to stay loyal to Apple.

I’m also in the market for a new laptop as my Macbook is old and is getting rather slow. I know a cheaper laptop would work just as well for me. I’m sure I don’t need half the features on my current laptop and, if I were to choose a different brand, I could save myself several hundred dollars.

But again, I’m one of the millions of customers who’ve been swayed by the look and feel of Apple computers. Their designers have come up with the winning ticket – products that work really well but also have a powerful emotional appeal.

Kolko says that this is what all designers should be aiming for. They need to ask how people will feel after using their phone or computer, buying something off their website, wearing their shoes, or hiring one of their cars. Will they be smiling, perhaps feeling warm and fuzzy inside? Will they be showing off what they’ve bought to friends and family? And will they be posting rave reviews on Facebook?

So how is this relevant to my writing? Well, I guess I also need to think about how I want my readers to feel as they turn the pages of my book. What kind of reaction am I trying to get? And once the book’s finished, I need to apply the same question to decisions over cover design and marketing.

“Well Designed” helps anyone involved in product design, development, marketing and advertising to build and launch products or services that have an emotional pull. Learn more about it in our premium members’ Book Insight.

Question: What steps can you take to really understand and empathize with your target market? Share your thoughts and experiences here.


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