Great effing list! This is the second article by Helen Walters on FastCoDesign that I think is right on the money. Read her other article “The Seven Biggest Challenges in Merging Design & Business”. Apparently she like the number “7”.
Example: Vision As the Driving Force
I recently came across Bank Simple (banksimple.com). Their site, besides beautifully designed, does a fantastic job at selling the vision of their new-age banking company so well that I gave them my contact info within 5 minutes of being there. Not only that - it left an extremely positive impression on me. I’m sincerely excited to receive the invite once their product & service launches.
The experience of finding, reviewing and signing up at Bank Simple made me think about the “early and often” mentality of code release that I’ve had a hard time with on more than one occasion (particularly the *early* part). I’m most uncomfortable with this when launching new products or new major features.
The point to “early and often” is to reduce business risk (your potential for making $$$) by learning from what gets built in quick (cheap) cycles that happen fast enough for you to learn wether your ideas are viable or not. In the end, the hope is that you get clear validation that either; 1. Your product or feature is a perfect solution for whatever ails your customers and you can make $ off of it or, 2. The problem you’re trying to solve or the need-state you’re trying to fill doesn’t exist and there’s no $ to be made - in which case you “kill your baby” and that’s ok because you did it on the “cheap”.
Boo! My problem with this process is that, in my experience with *early*, it means releasing unrealized, uninspired, vision-less, emotion-less solutions to customers that equate to extremely poor or lack-luster experiences. And let’s be clear - from a customers perspective, when releasing something we’re saying, “Here you go! We think this is good enough for you.” If it’s not “good enough”, it feels like disrespect, particularly if your customers pay for your product or service. And so much brand damage happens along the way! Building a brand is hard work - but fixing a brand? F*!ck-sake… that’s near impossible work.
So, what’s the solution? Well, I feel if you’ve already established a company you’ve done enough work to test a hypothesis on a need state you think you’ve uncovered in your market - so go make good on it! If you haven’t - back the eff up! Don’t put your time, money and other peoples money into something you’re uncertain of. Be clever in testing your hypothesis. Talk to as many people in your target as possible. Build something if you need to. I guarantee you’ll uncover plenty of unexpected pieces of valuable information along the way. If your hypotheses still holds water then craft a vision for your company that will guide its future success. Rely on that vision to develop the products and services you’ll build, test and deliver to your customers.
I can see all that in Bank Simple. There’s a clear, bold and beguiling vision there that’s defined their product & service. It separates them from the pack. I get a very strong sense that this vision has guided their design process in a profound way. In end what I expect from them are products and services that tell a clear story to their customers about who they are, what they offer and what that means to me. Over-abundance in our world makes this more important than ever!
So, for now, Bank Simple is in “dark-mode”. Cool with me! Turn the lights on when you, professionals of your industry, think it’s the right time for me to be delighted by your product. Cause when that happens you better believe I’ll be filling those social channels, online & off-line, with some serious praise.
Best of luck to the folks at Bank Simple! Great stuff so far. I await your launch with much excitement :)
Why do so many product companies, especially web/tech, skip the “making” process? I think it’s because they see it as expensive. “Doing” before exploring and realizing what could be is far more expensive than delivering uninspired, dull solutions that don’t solve problems to their fullest potential and detract from any brand equity you’ve built. Think before you speak - “make” before you “do”.
I really enjoyed this piece on the current state of design in business, the “golden age” of design and designers, the democratization of design tools and responsibility and the continued lack of understanding of the discipline by so many people who do their best at practicing it. I can confirm much of this - having come from working environments where so much of this is true.