Posted by Williams Helde Staff

There are no such things as dumb users. There are only dumb products.

At TEDxBoston, Timothy Prestero talked about trying to make products that would change the world. He walks through his challenges, missteps, and learnings on his journey. I found a lot of significance in his talk from a few different perspectives.

Timothy Prestero, Design For People, Not Awards

First, too often the term marketing is defined by things like advertising, PR, social media, and building websites. Truthfully, marketing should be considered more of a frame of reference than a set of tools. As markters, we should continue to push the boundaries of things like product design and business operations.

Secondly, Prestero talks about “design[ing] for outcomes, not inspiration.” He walks through a case study where they won dozens of awards and gained lots of recognition for their work, and while flattering, he admits it felt hollow because the product they designed so well to change the world never got implemented. He compared this type of work to beautiful concept car designs. Instead of designing for awards or inspiration, he commits we should design for outcomes, which includes designing for manfacturing & distribution, actual use, and appearances (perhaps meaning percieved quality). ”

Third, while data and history give great guidance, it’s important to look forward when creating. Prestero asks, “Are we designing for the world that we want? Are we designing for the world that we have? Are we designing for the world that’s coming, whether we’re ready or not?”

Lastly, perhaps my favorite points, he suggests, “there is no such thing as a dumb user. There are only dumb products,” suggesting that we, “Make it hard to use wrong. You want to make the right way to use it, the easiest way to use it.” This is a powerful point, especially as it translates to marketing and advertising. Users should have to think out of the box to interpret our messages. How might someone misuse or misinterpret our information? How do we mitigate that confusion? Consumers (and clients) are not stupid if they don’t “get” our work. That one is on us.

Williams Helde Staff
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Williams Helde Staff

Seattle-based Williams Helde helps build active, healthy brands through marketing communications, PR, advertising and design.