Why emotion needs to be at the core of Design and how it can replace marketing spend

Monday July 29, 2013,

4 min Read

“It’s about the reaction and behavior people show when they use your product, not what they are saying,” shares Olivier Helleboid, VP of Product Management for Intuit’s Employee Management Solutions BU. “It’s always about the emotion your product evokes,” corroborated Kaaren Hanson, Intuit’s Vice President of Design Innovation. And we knew we were in for a class on Product Design 101 when we got in touch with them to talk about the Design philosophy at Intuit and their personal sense of design.


Do less, but nail it!

This is increasingly becoming the mantra when it comes to design. “If you look at what the user does with a product, there are 1 to 5 typical tasks that a user does and there are 2-3 which the user does most often. You need to nail those couple of functions,” says Kaaren. It becomes very important not to get carried away by what all you can do but one needs to consciously decide on what not to do.

And the things you decide to do should be based on what the user wants. “When we think a lot about the product and technology, the focus shifts a bit from the pain points of the customer, what the customer actually wants. And this should not happen!” says Olivier.

So, how does one go about design?

Design is a continuous process. If one has to put it in chart, it would look like:

Empathy --> Inspiration --> Coming up with a really strong point of view --> Built the product --> Keep iterating and improving

“It’s very important to see the emotions your product evokes, which in a way is empathy,” says Kaaren. Sharing her experience, she says that as a designer she first started off thinking ‘ease’ to be the final aim but she realized that at the end of the day, emotions matter most. Emotions are feelings that define what humans are and what they do.

One needs to see what people feel like when they’re using the product. And this can be tested via simple prototypes if the final version requires a lot of resources. It’s important to see and learn and iterate.

It’s all about the questions

Talking about the design philosophy at Intuit, Kaaren and Olivier say, “The aim is to delight the user/customer which comes from deep customer empathy.” And design is a team sport- everyone from the designer to the engineer and the product managers should be aware of and participate in the process of design.

And it’s always about the questions a company asks. Be it a startup, a growth stage one or a huge corporate, the design thinking process remains the same. A company asks different questions at different times according to its needs but the overall process remains the same.

How much resource should a startup allocate?

Design is a premium service when you talk about hiring someone and this becomes a call to stake for startups especially in India (which we discussed here) but Karen and Olivier present an interesting argument. Design is something that can substitute your marketing costs because if your experience delights the user, he or she will spread the word and it spreads the maximum this way. “If your product solves a problem and doesn’t really focus on design, it’s less likely that people will tell others about it,” says Kaaren. You can reach a lot wider audience if your design is something that evokes a strong (pleasant) reaction in your user.

And it especially becomes important when looking at it from a startups perspective because startups are often the ones that disrupt. They need to stand out to grow and this is very hard to do without having a great product along with an equally good design.

Credits for arranging the interaction: Lubaina Rangwala

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