Technology should make our lives easier, not harder. Digitalisation is about progress, not confusion. The psychology of user experience is an opportunity to really understand the needs and motivations of your customer base – to walk in their shoes. We need to remember that there is a person on the other side. Design for them, and we should have them in mind at all times.
There is little doubt that landing a consistently excellent digital customer experience takes investment – both time and money. It does not happen overnight, but it is what drives what I do. What excites me most is when I come across clarity of thought, simplicity and intuitiveness in the design of a technology solution.
In the last 20 years, working in the financial services industry, I have seen my fair share of the good, the bad and the ugly. My single greatest conclusion is that great design is the key to good tech. A technology project without clarity of design is doomed to fail.
By design, I don’t simply mean to create something aesthetically pleasing (although that matters too). I mean to make things useful, useable and enjoyable. We’d all do well to remember that technology serves people. If it isn’t intuitive, it isn’t working well.
Few have had as much influence on the design world as Dieter Rams, the father of functionalist design. Many that I speak to in the industry today light up at the mention of Rams. Rams is notable for his contribution to the global growth and commercial success of Braun, but also for his design principles that still influence us today.
In the work I am leading at AMX five of Rams’ principles stand out as being critical:
- Good design makes a product understandable. Rams knew that sense of purpose in design has a commercial underpinning. What is good for customers is ultimately good for business.
- Good design is honest. We must strive to build trust with the customer. We do this by not over-engineering; making the customer feel empowered, not stupid or frustrated. We need to be honest about the user’s needs.
- Good design is thorough to the last detail. This might slow delivery but leads to a higher quality product. Perfectionism is to be applauded.
- Good design is long lasting. We should to avoid too much change for our users to encourage adoption. Familiarity and ease of use is key. The brief for my design team was “design the 1960’s Porsche”, a product which has evolved yet stayed true to itself over time.
- Good design is as little design as possible. Less is more.
Jonny Ives, chief designer at Apple, is said to have been influenced by Rams and his work; Rams’ principles are certainly self-evident in the Apple products we know and love. In applying this thinking to the technologies we create today at the centre of the global financial services industry, we hope to save our clients time, money and make their lives a little bit more enjoyable.
As technologists, our aim is typically to improve efficiency in the industries in which we work. We need to make more information more easily accessible, wherever and whenever it is needed. Users must find it easy and pleasing to use without training or intervention – that helps efficiency and accessibility and improves customer experience.
Rams once explained his design approach in the phrase “Weniger, aber besser” which translates as “Less, but better”. In a fast-paced, competitive industry which continuously seeks to build bigger and better tech, we could all do well to adopt Rams’ mantra.