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!