A month or so ago, I was driving into work listening to the Design Story Podcast, when I heard Mauro Porcini, Chief Design Officer at PepsiCo, talking about not just satisfying our users, but loving them.
This really resonated with me because I've been thinking of a way to explain the importance of going beyond just having empathy for users—especially because designers often talk about empathy but then proclaim that they are here to solve your (the user’s) problems.
Having just started a new role, I'm working on creating design principles with my team as a way to align and communicate our fundamental team beliefs. The idea of 'loving' users was one of the principles we instantly agreed upon.
When you think about the people you love, you want the very best for them. You want to make things delightful and keep them magical. There is great joy in spending time with those you love, the relationship involves an element of surprise, and sharing experiences to build understanding is key. Love has a far greater emotional connection than empathy; as designers, we can leverage this way of thinking to provide more immersive, engaging experiences for our users.
As we spend time with users, observing them with intent can help us identify their pain points, goals and desired outcomes. Taking time to know them and build relationships uncovers their unarticulated needs. Understanding the reasoning why, beyond just knowing the what, provides an opportunity to truly delight users—more than fulfilling a single need—and involving them throughout the process cultivates a strong, authentic relationship.
Designers still need to be grounded in the business and avoid any impression they spend more time advocating for the user than learning and understanding the goals of the business. Loving the user also means being transparent about business constraints—it means making users aware of business realities that may prevent some of their needs from being solved, or even prevent them form appearing on the roadmap altogether. It’s up to us to explain how solving specific user needs and providing an emotional experience will translate to exceeding business goals.
In the podcast, Mauro said: "As designers, if we make the people we design for feel the love, then we will receive the love back, and our business will benefit from this big-time." As we look ahead to 2018, I challenge you to find new ways to keep the magic alive for your users, so they feel the love.