Design Tips: Ask The Audience

Design is one of those skills that can show benefit across so many disciplines. Whether you’re coming up with a new product, a new email template or a new website, the skills are similar and will reward anyone who has a handle on them equally.

Defining goals and working out how much effort you should be putting into each aspect for maximum efficiency are two key elements of the design process. But there is one more vital piece of the puzzle; understanding who you are designing for so that you can give them exactly what they want.

So, join us after the break to complete this introductory master class…

Informed design is effective design

All good marketers have a strong grip on two vital factors – who you sell to, and how your target market is segmented. But when you design a website or email campaign do you know exactly what they like and don’t like? And how can you be sure?

You may be surprised! The more you know about your clients’ behaviour, the more effective your design can be.

Start by asking your clients what they want. You can do this with a survey or a request forum like we do here at dotMailer. By doing this you will get an idea of the features people want.

Client Interaction

But you can’t stop there. Communicating with people personally will give you real insight into how they actually feel. It’s human nature to try and fix our own problems so sometimes people will hold back their true feelings and try to come up with their own solutions.

Enrol today!

We’ve setup a group that we call our dotMailer Test Pilots. Anyone can join. You just need to be interested in giving detailed feedback on design. Every time we design or redesign a new product feature, we sit down face to face with as many of our Test Pilots as possible. We ask them what they like and don’t like about the current design.

Most importantly, we like to observe dotMailer Test Pilots using the feature with our own eyes so that we can understand the pain points, reactions and emotions. We often ask them to complete simple tasks on the current design based on the new objectives.

For example, when recently gathering requirements for our new query builder we asked people: “What would you do if you wanted to find out how many people opened and clicked a specific email campaign within a specific time?” There are no right or wrong answers, but it’s quite amazing to watch how people use a design – It can’t be effectively refined through imagination alone.

Query Builder

Red Routes

Once you’ve observed a few people (five is usually enough), it quickly informs you which changes need to be made. Look for reoccurring patterns and refer to your objectives, you can then plan out your “red routes”.

Anyone who has ever driven around London will know that red routes are the ones where motorists aren’t allowed to stop, or else a swarm of traffic wardens will converge from out of nowhere and descend upon you in a shower of tickets.

Red Route (by John Keogh)

In our case, “red routes” are critical actions or journeys a user needs to make.

Not all actions are critical, and this is how we make sure the design is easy to use and clutter free by prioritising the most important routes.

That’s all folks (it’s really not…)

And that’s the third part of the pie. Easy as that eh! But seriously, it’s just the beginning.

To recap:

  • Define your goals before you start, pay special attention to the “red routes” or primary actions you want users to complete.
  • Work out clear priorities for your development based on the Good, Fast, Cheap triangle – pick two for each part of the project and stick to them.
  • Get feedback. The more detailed the better. Look into the white of your users’ eyes as they try your new designs.

So that’s it.

I hope these design tips have given you some food for thought and no doubt you’ll be hearing more from me soon. If you have any questions or any particulars you’d like to see covered in follow up then get in touch – as you might be able to tell from this post, we’re always listening!

Also the rest of the Design blog series is available on our handy Effective Design page! Be sure to pop by regularly as we’ll be updating it with other blogs in this series, here is the link.

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