The User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA) DC chapter hosted John Douglas, Head of Social UX Research @ Google, last night at nclud for an interesting discussion how to better “Make Your Ideas Stick,” while battling the “curse of knowledge” that plagues UX pros far and wide.
We all have ideas. Most ideas are crap. Some are worth pursuing. And then, there’s that idea, that one revelation that has the potential to change the world. For all you future Zuckerbergs, how can we take these brilliant ideas and turn them into incredible products, defeat the curse of knowledge and have our peers, clients, team members, investors and venture capitalists buy in?
Remember that old John Maxwell book Talent Is Never Enough that was on your reading list (or at least it should have been) back in high school? The premise is that we all have certain, natural born, God-given (if you will) talents that are only useful though verification and application. Well, ideas, in this case, are never enough. Douglas posits that ideas need certain characteristics and motives in order to come to fruition and realize their full potential. It starts with relational communication. Take your geek hat off and put you social cap on!
Lesson 1: Make your ideas concrete.
You’re the expert! Your users (unfortunately) are not – at least not yet. So how do we get our ideas to resonate with our audience? When you sell UX, what do you talk about? What do clients hear? Have you ever asked? We need to strike the balance between jargon speak and that magical universal language so everyone clearly understands why our idea is so great!
Douglas spoke about talking to your audience in “human scale.” WTF is human scale? In general terms, it’s the difference between saying “Bill Gates has a ton of money!” vs. “If you stacked Bill Gate’s money in $1 bills, it would go to the moon and back 7.36 times!!!” Which do you think is more impactful?
Douglas gave his favorite example of human scale by showcasing the first iPod marketing ploy. “Say hello to iPod. 1,000 songs in your pocket.” Literally, the iPod was a portable, chargeable hard drive with an adaptive screen and a program to play songs. Figuratively, it kind of is 1,000 songs that you can fit in your pocket.
Lesson 2: Know your audience.
Knowing our audience allows us to make calculated decisions based on our specific users. With user research, we can begin to predict our first audience - people that directly interact with users, such as clients, bosses, etc. Once we know who we’re pitching to, we can begin to define the problem in a way to make our stakeholders give a shit. We can do this by finding out what keeps them up at night or what reduces the workload. Then, and only then, may we present them with a solution!
Implementing our ideas takes vision. And it’s that vision that carries the idea through to implementation phase. We may get frustrated with our products, explaining the problem and how our products make user’s life easier. However, it’s important to remember what our product market fit is and speak to those individuals within the given market. Once we understand their pains, we can then prescribe the medicine!
3) Facts tell. Stories sell.
Facts are great! Facts support the basis of qualitative and quantitative data that supports our propositions and ideas. But at a deeper, more relational level, what hits home with most people is playing to their senses and emotions. We do this by telling engaging stories. Stories need to have activities, motivations and characters. Stories evoke imagination and help mold ideas into reality. Once users are able to envision themselves interacting with your idea, they’re much more easily sold.
Ever been to a car dealership and had the salesman ask you “Can you see yourself in this car” or something to that effect? They’re actively trying to get you to imagine yourself in the car, to involve your emotions and senses. If you can’t imagine yourself using the product, or seeing how others might use it, then how do we expect our audience to see it?
Hence, our favorite lesson of the night: Facts tell. Stories sell.