Sunday, 10 May 2009

Bring On The Faster Horses

The evergreen quote from Henry Ford "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses" often comes to mind as more and more companies are getting serious about listening to consumers (their current customers and, crucially, those consumers who are not yet customers) using social media and web analytics. The quote has always been a little dangerous in that it can be used to imply that innovation is somehow disassociated with and distant from consumers. I believe the opposite is true, real and impactful innovation comes from an exceptionally deep understanding of your customers wants and desires. Listening is not enough of course, interpretation is everything. Interesting article in the NYT this weekend discusses the shift in focus from pure design decisions to customer informed choices based on web analytics. In the article, a former head of design for Google bemoans the fact that all design decisions had to be tested and proven in the real world, page changes would be tested and the winning formula - based on observed visitor behaviour - would be adopted. I have a hard time finding fault with that approach, after all, websites exist to help consumers achieve objectives (find other sites, buy products, sign up for loyalty programs, etc), sucessful designs do that more sucessfully and it's all emminently measurable and proveable....

The article is Data, Not Design Is King in the Age of Google and is here...

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