Details! Lessons from a talented designer
I stared at him as he explained. I was awed. This line, that colour, that length. Twice, thrice, one, half. This balances that and mist be half an inch to the left… He had an explanation for every aspect of his design and I left FEELING the design.
For a young business, the content of your work
When you’re new and young, place emphasis on the content of your work, how well you know it, and how thoroughly you do it; because when you’re new and young you don’t have much experience by which your professionalism and credibility can be judged. As you build your portfolio of clients, build also a portfolio of content — the latter earns you ‘points at hand' any time.
Quality & customer experience
Good quality is not enough
The graphics designer said “It’s not enough that it looks good. It must feel like the client, feel like what it says, and make the customer have a distinct, unforgettable feeling about this client and their product.”
Your quality must transcend “quality” and be customer experience. Drugs and movies have one thing in common — they give you a feeling not common to any other. People buy them, not for the product’s sake, but for the feeling.
A product may be of very high quality but is either no different from the competitor’s or doesn’t attract customers' loyalty. Most Nokia phones were very high quality but did not give the “smart” experience; they eventually ran out of market.
As you design or redesigned / redefine your product, start with “what do we want them to feel having bought us” rather than “how good does it look”?
Have you ever bought something only to be disappointed later that it doesn’t satisfy you yet it’s made very well? Avoid the same with your product. That’s negative experience; it’s better if your customer said “oh my, it’s handier than it looks (or than I thought), I love it!”
Customer experience is all about detail
It often makes a whole world of difference that you used “when” instead of “if” in a sentence. Many users believe that Facebook is a better experience today than it was one year ago because you can now ‘express' your feelings about a post; the differences appear to be small but the difference in customer experience are enlarged!
But how do you create that experience out of what you now have?
- Do some research and ascertain what extra thing customers want; or
- Study the market and see what customers do not get which they can get; and
- Start working toward designing what customers want / are complaining about; or
- Redesign and give your clients a surprise; they didn’t know they wanted something extra, but hey, it’s here, and it’s way better!
You can go about it as follows:
- Strip your product into its smallest constituent parts
- If you can’t tell at once what to tweak, remove or add, experiment — try tweaking or altogether removing each constituent part; add something new
- Keep trying until you have a completely new / tweaked product which meets the target you identified above; then
- Release a prototype and see how customers react; then
- The necessary next course of action will flow from customers' reaction — whether to tweak, undo, etc.
Money, time versus quality
The demands of money versus quality are often seen to diverge; like a curve that flattens at some point, it is taken for granted that the better the quality of your work, the more you are bought, and therefore the more money you get, but this occurs only to a certain extent so that beyond a certain point, the better your quality, the more money you spend which begins reducing your revenue.
Unless you’re established and have developed very strong loyalty for your products, you don’t subscribe to that logic. In fact, even when you think you’re established, don’t subscribe to the “flattening point” logic.
Remember that quality and customer experience are two key competitive advantages in business. It’s detrimental to lose them especially if they’re your foremost competitive advantages.
Invest in detail
As a young business, invest your time and energy in the details.
“As a rule”, the graphics designer said, “every part of my design has a rationale so that the whole grand design has various parts which have different meanings and give diverse feelings which contribute to the whole grand meaning and experience.”
He designs for half the corporates in the city; they trust him and they love his work — like us, they don’t just like it, they love it. His work inspires you to do better and better; it inspires, not only awe, but also perfection.
Albert Einstein’s physics was monumental because he eliminated much assumption with much tried and calculated logic so that in the end he had an unassailable theorem. He said this concerning his investment in details:
“It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I take longer with problems.”
“Why” all the way
“So how do you accomplish so much detail?” I asked.
“For every part of the design, I ask myself why. If there’s no reason, I discard it. I keep doing so until I have a reason for every part of the design.”
When developing strategy solutions for our clients, we question every statement we make and we qualify all our recommendations with stats and unassailable logic. That doesn’t mean we throw innovation out the window; we’re the most innovative strategy company of our size and we have achieved this by ensuring that all our solutions are laced with innovation.
Be pleased to rework your details!