At the 9th Venturepreneurs’ Summit in Gavà we had the pleasure of having Smart Design come speak to the group about the value of Design. Agnete Enga, Associate Director of Industrial Design and a founding member of the Femme Den, gave us a brief history of design, followed by the way Smart Design works, the importance of designing around people and finally getting into Femme Den, which is about design focused on the female consumer.
It’s about People
The presentation revolved around the idea that ‘design is about people’. As intuitive as this might sound it is not always executed well in companies. In the connected and digital world in which we live, people define companies. Through social media and ecommerce websites like Amazon, the consumer is now the one that defines companies.
Companies have been doing marketing research, trying to figure out what consumers want and then allowing the user to choose between two products. This is not the way it should be. It is the role of companies to do what Smart Design calls Design Research. In this process it is the company that works alongside the consumer, understanding their pains and solving real problems to come up with new products and services.
Design has now come back to its original purpose which is to come up with solutions to real life problems by: collaborating with the users, innovating, differentiating, creating valuable user experiences, being simple, creating brand loyalty and having an holistic approach.
Learning from Smart Design
Smart Design’s objective is to improve daily life by creating products, services and experiences around people. It is not about conducting focus group research or gathering quantitative data anymore, it is the in depth questioning and analysis with a few people that really yields the right insight to inspire new products.
Real, valuable insights emerge when the researcher goes deep. When a user interacts with your website there are 3 levels that can be observed. The Observable: what you can see the user doing, here the fixes are obvious. The Hidden: this is more about the user and her/his life and values and how the product can appeal to that. The Hidden Deeper: which is about prototyping new experiences for the user and see the new response.
And this is how innovation occurs, by understanding the user, solving pains, but also coming up with new solutions to the problem and seeing the new way the user interacts with this problem.
How to please a woman?
Every man would like to know the answer to this question, yet as men, we don’t try hard enough. We’re obviously still talking about products and services ;-) There are many examples where companies roll out products and experiences that either undermine woman or simply forget about them. Pregnant women and airbags, gas stations and the sense of security, gym clothes and the different shapes a woman’s body can have. Why does this happen? The most convincing example that Agnete gave is that men are men most of the times, while women take on different sides depending on the task they are doing. When a woman is in the office she might take a more masculine-like kind of stance just like when she is repairing something in the house. Other times she is more feminine and ‘motherly’. When developing a website or an experience we need to keep in mind what are the differences between women and men without thinking of the clichés but rather taking these difference seriously to make both men and women comfortable in the purchasing process and use of the product. As Agnete says ‘ a happy woman = a happy man = a happy life’.
The key takeaway from this presentation was the way that a design consulting works, the focus that companies need to have on consumers and the importance of the research process. Therefore, make sure that in your company you really understand your customer and create experiences that really please him or her. If you do this, your sales will increase and as a result your shareholders will be happy!
The Venturepreneurs’ Organisation is a pan-European organization of serial entrepreneurs and investors. They meet twice per year to discuss trends, share their network and stories as well as collaborate on new projects. One of the most interesting sessions of the 9th Summit that was held in Gavà this year in May was the ‘Trends session’. In 2 hours each Venturepreneur discussed what he thought to be the trend to follow in the next few years. Below we can explore these 13 trends that might shape our future.
1. Mass Customization
3D printing has been around for some time already. It is now making it’s way to mainstream and the technology has improved so much that 3D printers can now replicate themselves – robots creating robots! Once technology makes its way to the street and the masses can take more control over it imagine the kind of potential that could be unleashed. Toys, clothes, electronics, furniture – all you want could be replicated and personalized across the entire world.
2. Banking/Mobile payments
We all know that mobile payment will somehow emerge as the form of payment for many. The question is who will be the winner in this space? Will it take the shape of the credit card industry with a MasterCard, Visa and Amex or will there be many more players?
3. Proximity Based Services
We are living two lives, one in the physical space and another in the digital space. It only makes sense that there be an ever increasing merging of these two worlds. Mobile has immensely helped this transition with location based communities. More and more applications will find a way to have proximity based services take over many aspects of your life, such as messaging, dating and advertising.
4. Online Bookings
Vertical online bookings are a reality and can only become bigger. Book your flight, hotel, restaurant and whatever you need online. Some spaces are cluttered already but there are many possibilities for websites to become the no.1 booking site for the vertical industry they represent.
5. Online Education
Education as we know it has not changed very much since World War 2. The content might have somewhat evolved and been updated, but the majority of education takes place in classrooms with a professor and 20 or more students taking notes from the blackboard. It is time to change this and in the next 10/20 years we will observe an educational revolution where students will prepare for class before school via online videos given by the best professors in the world.
This industry has taken off in the past years and Amazon is the absolute winner in this space from a global perspective. But there are still many opportunities. Redesigning the experience, going into new industries and ‘owning’ a customer for life are some of these opportunities.
7. HTML5 & apps
It would seem like HTML5 is the winning technology for future apps for mobile devices. Therefore start developing your apps in HTML5 because this technology allows you to have an app on different platforms and at the same time keeping and adapting the design, look & feel.
We are many on the web and we are looking for ways to stand out from the crowd. The internet is a much bigger crowd than your high school, college or workplace. Social validation systems, ways and services that rank your social status online will be ever more important.
9. Second Screen TV
The TV industry is another industry that is moving very slowly. We still watch TV from our sofa. Many have switched to online streaming, but we still watch TV from a screen and take in what is displayed on the screen. That’s why we are seeing, slowly, the emergence of 2nd screen TV’s. 2nd screen TVs are applications on your mobile device that allow you to further engage with the program you are watching on TV. For example; as you are watching Formula 1 on TV you can see extra facts and figures about the race on your tablet. In addition you can also interact and share what you are watching on your social networks.
10. Last but not least…. Mobile
We have not mentioned it but from the above trends the simple truth comes out that mobile, smartphones, tablets are becoming our major outlet for media, entertainment, messaging and communities. While laptops and computers are where we work. Not to mention the importance of mobile devices in emerging and underdeveloped countries where computers are not even an option.
Trends are an educated guess of the future based on past and present occurrences. The Venturepreneurs are a group of professionals who’s business is to be aware of trends and ‘catch the wave’ of what is about to come. In our opinion something that might have been missed is the cable-free connected home. The idea of having media, appliances, computers, tablets, mobiles and all that is electronic connected and fully integrated on the wi-fi network. What do you see as the next wave?