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Make your product speak for itself
As technology evolves, so do products and packaging. The world is moving into the digital lane and your product may be a website or an application that will only ever exist in the virtual space. In this day and age, your product’s design should speak for itself to convince the prospective buyer. The question is: how?
The straight answer is in the definition of design itself. First and foremost, you should know that design is a tool of communication. We design to convey a message and to get a reaction. When a consumer experiences your product’s design, he understands more than just features. He also takes away messages from the look and feel of it and creates perceptions about your brand, associates them with your product and convinces himself for or against it. Here are some of the things to keep in mind when designing a product:
Your product’s front face should be a starting point that immediately engages your user. For a website, this is the landing page or the Home Page while for an app it is the first screen that your user interacts with. The welcome screen should be inviting, have only the most relevant information about your product and should lead your user into the second page of your site. Consider your site or app as a book and write a “blurb” on the home page. The main page’s content should immediately distinguish you from your competitors and should ideally emphasise on your unique selling point.
For example, the Guns and Roses website’s home page features a large image with a thank you message for the fans. It immediately engages the viewer and he goes on to read what the band wants to say to its fans.
Once your user is on-board your site, give him easy access to the inside pages of your product. Convenience is key. Your user will lose interest if he doesn’t know how to get where he wants to. Guide the user along the easiest path around your product so that he can experience more and more of your site or app. Navigation should be smooth and simple. The more the user will delve deeper into your site, the more information you can help him learn about your product which means that you’ll only increase chances of gaining another satisfied customer.
For example, TV Safety’s website has a simplified navigation pane at the bottom that takes you step by step through the website. The buttons are shaped like arrows to help you understand the hierarchy of navigation.
In a design, forms, colours, textures, typography and lines play a very important role in communicating a message. The interface of your app or site should be visually appealing. Use ample amount of negative space so the user’s eyes can rest on your design. Guide the eye around the most important features and lead it into your design for more exploration. Attention to detail never goes unrewarded. Your design should be according to your brand’s design philosophy and language so you can help the user relate with your brand.
For example, the Thinking with Type project has an interesting interface that follows the Golden Ratio for their grid design. The main focus is design through type and negative space gives the feeling of exclusivity.
Read “expectations”. Around the world, experts have studied UX design and come up with certain standards. These rules will help you understand what your user expects from your website or application. Certain images and terms have become familiar symbols such as the Home button. Furthermore, the user expects to see links for contacts and about. Don’t forget these rules when you’re designing a product. You can only break the rules if you know them so put yourself in the user’s shoes and think what questions you will ask yourself when you surf through your own product.
For example, the navigation panel on the website of advertising agency Jib, is an excellent example of a rule that is both followed and broken. The navigation pane appears at the top – where you would expect it to. But it doesn’t show up unless your mouse hovers over the Jib logo.
The most memorable product designs are ones that evoke the human senses of sight, taste, smell, sound and touch. Human beings can remember better if they engage two or more senses in an event. Let your users “experience” your product with their senses so that they can take away long lasting impressions from the interaction.
Google Data team created this experimental website, a visualisation of 100, 000 nearest stars to Earth as an informative tool to help people learn about our surroundings in space. The website uses soft music playing in the background and tapping to zoom in and pan across the galaxy.
Talk to the user. Don’t talk at them. Pay close attention to the copy of your product and keep the words in line with your overall brand strategy. Choose the right tone and voice to attract your user and make him feel at home. The same text that simply states your product’s features can be modified to help the user relate to those features as benefits of purchasing your product. Remember that your digital presence will appear cold and robotic if you don’t enforce a human element into it. Creative copy is one of the most effective ways of making your user trust your product and feel like he is interacting with a real-life product that was made by real people rather than just a binary code.
Why? Because, as Google’s April’s Fool joke points out: “When it comes to expressing yourself, nothing beats the richness and elegance of a few properly placed colons, parentheses, letters and hyphens.”
So when you’re creating your product think how you would introduce someone in to your house. How would you welcome the user into the design and then lead him through smooth navigation and passages to other pages of your site? Then design the interface of your website to guide the user’s eye around and into the design and not away from it. If you pay attention to detail, your product will become a marketing tool on its own and one more reason for your customers to consider your brand.