If we can expect to move forward, we have to ask ourselves: How does a person today want and expect to interact with the machines they use?
Most people think we can just add a bunch of electronic controls that look good on paper. But the thing is, if we start adding electronic controls for the sake of adding electronic controls, then we are going in the wrong direction.
To innovate and drive new technology, we need to truly understand how our solutions are going to impact the end user. That’s where audience-driven design & strategy comes in.
Identifying and understanding the problems from the audience’s perspective (both internal and external) is one of the most crucial components in new product development and the first step in the process of audience-driven design & strategy. Connecting with, in this case core members of the product teams to the operators helps us understand the pain points along a user’s journey.
We know for sure whatever the problem is, it is going to be centered around their experience and how they perceive their challenges. By taking an audience driven approach, we ensure that we’re not just adding controls for the sake of adding controls or to make next year’s model specifications different.
Take for example, the problem I solved with zero-turn mowers. We could have just continued adding gadgets to the mower in an attempt to improve its overall performance and sure, that would have influenced new sales. When I started talking to the end user’s there was an actual problem there that needed to be solved. When talking to our audience there was a consistent, across the board, message we heard. They were telling us, “these things are hard to drive straight” and “these things are hard to drive on a hillside”. Those were the problems they were having.
You can see how better understanding of the problem and how end users experienced that problem led to greater understanding of exactly what needed to be improved and how to address it. For the mower, simply put, it was determined that drivability was the core concern of what needed to be improved.
Once the problem has been clearly defined, the next part is where we really have some fun. How do we solve it? One way is to look at what can be pulled from technology in other industries. How can we use creative technologies to help eliminate or improve upon the problem?
If we can expect to move forward, we have to look at user experience. How does a person today want and expect to interact with the machines they use? We take a look at that and apply those principles to products in our space. It’s a big deal taking companies down that path, investing in user experience, and technology transformation.