Who is your app?

Should we start to look at our digital projects/websites/apps differently?

Recently I’ve been playing with a new way to consider digital projects and especially how to represent them. Of course, I don’t want to go against the user centric principle — the user IS the goal that you should have in mind and start with — but I consider this new approach rather like a better way to consider any projects for a team.

Back to the future

I imagine that one day, all digital interfaces will be empowered with some kind of AI. They will truly interact with us, adapt to our personality to engage us more. Maybe they’ll even speak to us or show us a virtual friendly face when we want to consult our bank statements or order something on-line. Think of Jarvis, the digital butler of Tony Stark. They will have a personality — or rather, different personalities — because you don’t expect your cashier at the grocery store to look and behave like your bank clerk.
 They will behave like the perfect salesman or representative of your product and we will design them like so.

Design your ideal salesman

A salesman represents your company, or maybe just a line of products or even just a product; therefore, he or she needs to look like it. And a better salesman knows how to adapt his speech and behavior to his audience. You could actually say that it’s a good use of the word responsive in real life: instead of adapting to the device, it adapts to the audience. And that might be an even more user-centric strategy than what we do nowadays with our digital projects.
 Imagine a digital interface that “talks” to you in an adaptive way because it knows who you are and what you like.

To sum it up, this ideal digital representative would be the perfect combination of the company’s values, the device used and the user’s personality and mood.

Back to our reality

OK, this future might not happen any time soon but my point is that this could still be applied to our present projects. Our next projects should be the portrait chinois (to borrow the French expression) of this ideal salesman: if your app was a person, who would it be? What would it be like and why?
 I feel that the more we think of our digital projects like people, the more our users will feel there’s humanity behind our interfaces. You could think of it as trying to get as close as possible to a human/human interaction rather than a human/machine interaction with our present means.

Therefore, maybe a better way to describe your next project to your team would be to describe it as a person, along with the personas representing your users. The product’s persona if you will.


Originally published at www.ventrebleu.com on April 24, 2015.

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