8 Rules to Design the Journey

Be a design-led business and succeed

Drive audience focused change for your business and reap the most value from your investment with my 8 overlapping rules for designing the best possible customer journey.

User Centered Design

Know your audience and design everything for and around them. At no point should the designer or the client feel the design is for them, for their taste, or their whims. User centered design keeps the focus where it must be, on the people who will use your product. This requires empathy for who and how they would use your product, and to get the most from user centered design thinking, you must partner with the right designer (like me), who will build audience personas, research who they are and what motivates them, as well as what can frustrate or cause friction, and design an experience that informs and supports their mission while helping achieve your business goals and brand aspirations.

Customer Personas & Goals

I don’t like advertising and I think the advertising world exploits designer talents to help them convince people to buy or do something they don’t want or need. On the contrary, if people want to buy or do something, it is imperative to enlist the talents of a skilled designer that will dig in and, through empathy and research, try to understand the potential user personas and goals, then reduce friction as much as possible, helping them achieve their intent.

Brand Promise

Trust is the bases of any relationship. For people to support your brand (business) you must build trust and gain respect. And I mean build trust, because it just doesn’t happen. A business must know who they are and build a reputation though clear positioning and consistency in message, and the tangible part of that reputation is the brand promise. Breaking the brand promise will ensure you lose trust and respect for your business.

Expertise / Positioning

I have a simple formula for designing marketing focused materials for businesses, especially websites: declare your expertise, then use every inch/pixel to support and legitimize that claim. Bigger isn’t better, better is better, and different is MORE better. Define why you are different and thus better than your competitors, then use knowledge capital, expertise, case studies, testimonials, and any content and media you have at your disposal to support and verify. This helps build trust too, as long as you are consistent and clear.

Touchpoints

To ensure proper representation in the market, a clear brand promise and facilitating trust in your business, you have to look at every touchpoint your business has with your audience and target market, and be consistent in personality, visual language, and mood. If your social media is inconsistent with your website or storefront, you have a major issue. Take the time to understand who you are as an organization, define your positioning and brand essence, then make damn sure all touch points are all congruent and in tune with the brand, as well as helping the user to achieve their goals as well as support your business goals and brand aspirations.

Flexible Design System

Was there ever a time when a business needed a single logo to be successful and consistent in the market? Perhaps well before my time in the business, even looking back at the top design-led businesses like IBM and Apple, they employed a design system to flourish in the market, not a single rigid solution. This is why businesses need a logo system, an identity system, and a plethora of assets to ensure all brand pieces are appropriate and optimized for their application. Does your business have logos that are optimized for social media, print, signage, etc. and are they all accessible (when need be) to people with disabilities? If not you are not creating the best possible customer journey.

Consistent Visual Language

With simple or complex design systems that support your overall branding, consistency is primary. This does not mean the logo has to be used in blue at all times, on the contrary, your design system should have variations and options curated and optimized for a slew of applications. Consistency does not mean samesy, it means accurate, appropriate, and logical within the parameters of your well defined and developed brand identity.

Simplest Possible Solution

Occam’s Razor: The simplest solution is the best solution, but the hardest to achieve. This applies to problem solving, and yes design and creativity are all problem solving. If you do not know what problem you are designing for, you are doing nothing more than decorating a page and providing solutions that are nothing more than ego driven or fine art. Therefor nothing in the design is relevant. Go back to the top and focus on user centered design to make sure you are providing purposeful work that helps people accomplish their goals, while supporting the business’s goals and brand’s aspirations. Then eliminate any superfluous elements, never design for the sake of design, and question the relevance of everything, testing each element’s validity against the previous section’s topics. And remember what Antoine de Saint Exupéry said: when there is nothing left to remove, the design is finished.