When an engineer—or indeed any type of designer—is isolated from the real lives of their customers, they can only be informed by their personal, inner gut feel when structuring the product. We call this “design from the I.” Design from the “I” focuses on what “feels right to me.” With no other real knowledge of the customer, the team naturally reverts to building what seems to work best for them. And unfortunately engineers—indeed, any designers who deal with technology for a living—often love technology. They want to play with it and understand it. Regular everyday employees and consumers do not love technology in the same way.
Our mission at InContext is to help developers align their world with the users’ world… and realize that classic developer thinking—analytical, hierarchical, data-oriented—is not necessarily the users’ way of thinking. Developers’ needs, desires, and strategies are not the same as users’ needs, desires, and strategies—even if they used to do the users’ job. And so our mission is to tune the design compass of teams, to better align their inner design conscience with the reality of people using the products they are creating.
We do that viscerally by immersing product teams in the real lives of their users through field visits, where they can observe those real life contexts. Immersion in the lives of users is the best way to go beyond “design from the I.” Immersion helps people recognize that if they want to get it right for customers they need to go beyond their own personal experience and gut feel.
So where does good design come from? It comes right from the product team’s collective design compass, meshed with the reality of user needs, and all within the constraints of their comopany’s mission and capabilities. Tuning the design compass of the team to cool means helping the product team see what makes things cool for people who are different from them. Tuning the design compass to cool means going beyond one’s own age, stage, experience, personal likes, and ideas. Tuning the design compass to cool means embodying a sense of the most basic human drivers and motives. And then, with that retooled design compass—designing a cool product.
Tuning Tools: The Cool Concepts
To achieve transformational innovation in design requires transformational thinking. It requires re-tuning your team’s design compass to Cool. The Cool Concepts give you practical tools to do just that, helping your team understand the most basic human drivers and motives. The Cool Concepts are expressed through the Wheel of Joy and the Triangle of Design.
The Wheel of Joy
The Wheel of Joy represents the what. Cool products create joy by fulfilling the basic drivers of joy: accomplishment, connection, identity and sensory stimulation. Learn how the Wheel of Joy informs the design thinking of your project team.
- Accomplishment: Design for the unstoppable momentum of life.
- Connection: Help people maintain real relationship inside the demands of everyday life.
- Identity: Support the creation and celebration of self.
- Sensation: Magnify the cool experience with sensory delight or deliver the best experience of sensory immersion.
The Triangle of Design
The Triangle of Design represents the how. The Triangle of Design outlines the factors which increase or decrease the coolness of a product: Direct into Action, the Hassle Factor and the Delta. Learn how managing these constraints are critical to shipping a cool product.
- Direct into Action: Enable users to go directly from thought to result. Design your tool to operate like an extension of the mind or hand.
- The Hassle Factor: Remove as many hassles as you can that get in the way of Direct into Action. And don’t add new ones.
- The Delta: Create the “I can’t go back” experience. Understand the backdrop of user’s existing knowledge of how to use products to ensure the leap to use isn’t too great.