WWE for Designers: Work or Shoot?

This is a first article in a series of lessons designers can learn from WWE on how to engage their audience.

One of the most exciting things WWE storytellers do that makes their audience go nuts is walk the fine line between fiction and reality. Pro-wrestling is known to be “fake” or scripted. Yet sometimes, real stuff happens on live TV in front of a huge live audience. In WWE lingo, this is called “work” and “shoot”. “Work” is scripted, “shoot” is not.

Why is the WWE audience so excited about it? In most cases, it’s very clear something is scripted. That said, there are some rare cases when the audience is not sure whether something is scripted or not. And that right there, makes fans (WWE “users”) so much more engaged.

Last week it happened twice on live TV and the WWE fanbase went nuts.

Warning, real blood.

Here is the lesson for designers

When you fake it in your product, users notice. When you use fluffy, scripted marketing lingo, it’s unbelievable. When you don’t meet a true human need with your product, you’re practicing dishonesty. When you design a product, first fall in love with a problem to solve or a need to meet. Do your research to keep yourself honest. It’s not just about saying the right words, designing a beautiful product, or making it really easy to use. When you tell a story through a product, it must be believable.

Being honest in product design means you ask yourself and answer with user research techniques three key questions:

  1. What do people need?
  2. Who are the users?
  3. How do people currently solve a problem?

Don’t fake it till you make it. Make it.

To learn more about how to design honestly, read my recent book, Validating Product Ideas Through Lean User Research. Use the code “tomerli” to get a 20% discount when you buy it directly from my publisher.
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