Design

Modern quality is built upon continuous change

February 4, 2015

Read time 4 min

Advanced economies are dynamic, increasingly automated environments of digitalised human interaction. Our technical progression sparkles innovation from schools, basements and corporations. The downside? Increased environmental noise, burdening our senses. Our attentions require filtering.

Immaterial cloud and streaming experiences of entertainment, lifestyle and business are changing foundations of societies. Generations and ways of experiencing life are colliding through consumption of technology. From mobile to wearable computing, our ability to focus on physical environments is diminishing. Screens require attention. Instead of buzzing beeps and alerts, information can, however, be perceived more easily. Through glances instead of concentration. Subtly and gently. Even instinctively, subconsciously.

So, what’s stopping us? Featurism. More is more is an ingrained misconception among traditional management cultures, where communicators cherish quantity over clarity. More fuel is poured into the fire by startups. Keeping up with the pace of worldwide innovation requires speed. Consequently, today, quality has gotten a new purpose.

Let’s clarify some fundamentals.

 

Consistency is a journey of continuous change

Realise and embrace the following. Brands aren’t visual representations, things or software. Brands are individual experiences based on touchpoints between businesses and consumers. Or, practically put: brands are strategies resulting in associations and, at their best, beliefs.

“A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organisation.” – Marty Neumeier 

Captivating, creative expressions of large lifestyle-driven businesses are enrichments. However, the majority of todays customer touchpoints are digital. Crossing over fixed value propositions to digital interaction is therefore a doomed cruise. Digital service-oriented brands are based on changing user behaviour patterns. Consistent digital storytelling requires continuous iteration and validation according to proven customer needs. Depending on size and context, successful digital brands are therefore agile or lean, parallely collaborating with digital product engineering. Fixed strategies and continuous change, the essence of human-computer interaction, don’t match.

“The designed world behaves more like Darwin’s living organisms than Newton’s physical objects.” – Tim Brown

Consequently, new methodologies are inevitable. Modern brand books reflect tested components of brand strategies developing into patterns – in other words, into adaptable business. They’re code-based, adjustable and continuously evolving. Nothing is pinned down permanently.

 

In order to be heard, strive to achieve clarity

Our ongoing digital information age is democratic and free. But, most significantly, it exists through data, instead of steel or electricity. Customer touchpoints are encountered on massive scales. The craft of service business has never been busier. Remember, every single customer encounter counts! Excellence among the digital phase requires quality of a different kind.

“The art of reduction is cutting away what is not essential, and adding detail to what is.” – Oliver Reichenstein

Modern quality excludes ambient noise, making you stop, embracing the moment. Reduce complexity by absolute detail care to achieve not simplicity, but unconscious clarity – then, foster it. Consistently validated storytelling and communicative clarity go hand in hand. People will recognise businesses with user experience as their strategic driver. Modern quality is obvious. Brands are sums of their latest customer interactions.

When using successful service-oriented digital brands, I usually recognise a handful of similarities:

  • They’re a part of life without interrupting it. They don’t feel like software. Complexity of technology is hidden by a well designed experience.
  • More than just excellent user experiences, they’re like personalities, expressed through a unified tone of visual language and voice.
  • Their quality is comprehensive, making them self-explanatory. In other words: they’re intuitive.

These products are constructed upon profound pragmatic knowhow of classical information conception, merged into todays realities of service design. They’re distinctive, without substitutes.

Digital progression has a tendency to leave human understanding behind, making its consequences hard to grasp. Problems with unsuccessful modern businesses are usually located in technology. Our brains are extremely good at recognising differences in user experience patterns. We’re highly sensitive to inconsistency. When a service is used with minimum cognitive effort, it becomes intuitive. These services are the ones rising above environmental noise.

Digital interaction design is, therefore, business design: journeys where brand promises are earned and made. To avoid mental waste, future user experiences ought to be increasingly obvious. Ubiquitous computing is an opportunity. Let’s give it some quality instead of sheer pace.

Photo from here.

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