Different forms of listening as a designer
Yesterday I was walking on the street, talking with my partner about the importance of investing in city maintenance. We like to travel so that’s one first aspect we tend to see when we land in a new place: how cared it is.
And right after that thought, I wondered how politicians listen to people. They would go to events or press conferences to interact with people… But are those the best channels to listen to the people that walk the city every day? Are politicians ready to listen in those environments? Or are they more ready to answer? I mean, if we think about it, these contexts are usually pretty challenging for them, many people want answers so they are most probably ready for… giving answers.
What if they would be able to just walk the streets and observe for themselves, listen to what people are saying when walking, taking the metro, sitting in parks, etc.
That’s something I learned in my design experience: to be constantly listening. Listening to the design team, to the client, to your manager, to people on the street. And do it as a habit to learn new things every moment. A friend of mine would call that to be on “sponge-mode” to absorb any knowledge you can, which I think is exactly how I feel in those moments.
But to make that happen, I believe it’s important for us to create behavioural habits according to the context we are working in. To reinvent ourselves a little bit every time we get connected with a new project.
Starting with being masters of listening.
For example, last year I worked on a project related to a digital cattle-raising marketplace. It was quite challenging cause I didn’t know anything about the user of this industry. After doing research, I understood I needed to be more involved in this world, so I made a few changes to my habits:
- I started following cattle-raising influencers (or related people) on my personal Instagram account.
- Because of the Instagram algorithm, I started visualizing ads related to the industry. It was quite exciting to see how they were written.
- I joined calls with the client and listen to his words and observe his manners.
- I would read user persona’s comments on social media on a daily basis. Not only the ones from the client but also from the influencers I was following.
- Then my curiosity started to increase quite a lot, so I started paying more attention when people were talking about related topics on the news or even within my family.
- The client was from Argentina but I was living in Romania back then, so it was really exciting to observe how different the cattle-raising market was in Romania. This helped me to identify specific characteristics of the one in Argentina.
How much did the research stage help me in this process? I would say that was a solid base that, together with the things described previously I was able to ensure the results were growing day by day and the product was evolving in a consistent way.