As a designer, I’ve always loved learning about the different processes people use to solve challenges. To find new and effective approaches to user experience, I recently attended the UX Strategies Summit in San Francisco.

Here are three guidelines I learned that any marketer – in fact, any business professional – can use every day at work.

Fall in love with the problem, not the solution.

All too often, people in our line of work get caught up in the end result and lose focus on where they started: the problem to be solved. Don’t spend all your time polishing your solution until you’re sure you’re addressing the problem. How will your solution specifically benefit the customer? Will it be easy to use? Will it be fun to use? Will the user be surprised and delighted by the result? If you’re not asking these questions early and often in the process, your solution might not solve anything.

Use “napkins” to deepen the creative process and create solutions.

Audrey Crane, partner at DesignMap, gave a presentation called “Sparkle-ize My Napkin.” Most designers can recall a time that while in the midst of their creative process a colleague blithely handed them a doodle drawn on a napkin (or a scrap of paper) and then said something like, “I’m thinking this would work. Just make it pretty.” And designers aren’t the only people who get these “napkins.” Vague feedback takes many forms, and whether you’re an account manager, a UX specialist, a copywriter, a designer or a developer, you’re susceptible.

What to do? Crane recommends that we try to understand the napkin’s underlying meaning. Maybe the napkin giver is worried that a ‘Buy Now’ button (or any call-to-action) won’t be prominent enough. Maybe he or she questions the theme of your copy or image. Maybe it’s time to rethink user intent. Once you know the true meaning, and have identified the shortcomings it reveals, you can address the problem and use your own creative process to arrive at a better solution.

Harness positive experiences.

This was a conference about “experience,” after all, and in marketing, UX begins before your customers ever interact directly with your product. They read your Facebook updates, see your reviews on Yelp!, or glimpse your PPC ads in Google search results pages. Their decision-making processes are happening all along the way. This means that every touch point between consumers and your brand must be positive and meaningful.

Take Corona. The brand is not built so much around the beer itself as it is on the experience of drinking that beer – the feeling of sitting on a beach without a care in the world. Corona wants to transport you, and create that feeling of freedom and relaxation, when you crack open that beer.

In closing…

No matter what you’re marketing, always keep the original problem top of mind, don’t get upset when someone tells you to “just make it sexy,” and think about how you can turn your product into an experience.

 

Don’t spend all your time polishing your solution until you’re sure you’re addressing the problem.

About the Author

Scott Fassett

Interactive Art Director

Known affectionately around the office as “Scoots,” Scott specializes in user experience, creative conceptualization, art direction and caffeine consumption at 90octane.