Who are you designing for?


Tammy Sachs, founder & CEO of Sachs Insights, welcomes us

Last night I attended an event held by Sachs Insights, a marketing consultancy group that heavily utilizes user research techniques, which was part of the events for NYCxDesign week. The key focus of the presentation was a question that many of us UXers ask ourselves: Who are you designing for?

As I arrived, I was greeted by a handful of people who work at Sachs Insights, grabbed some yummy snacks, and went to get a good seat for the presentation.

Smart Design by Julie Riederer

One key aspect to smart design is to realize that perception does not equal reality. Julie Riederer, one of the Research Directors at Sachs Insights, lays the groundwork on how to make your design a success:

  1. Make sure your target audience is real
  2. Speak to the right audience, not just your “aspirational” audience
  3. One size approach does not fit all
  4. Speak your audience’s language: capture their words and their expectations
  5. Design to make key tasks prominent and easily accessible

Julie Riederer during her presentation (sorry for the crappy shot)

Smart design can further be narrowed down into two categories: those for B2C companies (Business-to-Consumer) and those for B2B companies (Business-to-Business). My interests lie more in the B2C space, so I’ll give you guys an overview of the B2C talk by Leslie Brown, another Research Director at Sachs Insights.

“Only design a kitchen sink if you are building a kitchen!”

Tactics for the B2C Audience by Leslie Brown

  1. Build from the outside in, not the inside out: The idea here is to actually be with the people you are designing for. You may think you know what your audience wants, but in order for you to be sure, you need to work with actual audience members.
  2. Create personas that go beyond the demographics: The main distinction here is that identifying a demographic does not equal defining a persona. An example of a demographic can be “Moms between the ages of 30-40” vs a persona which can be “A 34-year old Mom with two young children who loves technology and is constantly on the go”. The point here is that not all 30-40 year old moms are the same! It is important to capture the unique characteristics (i.e. socioeconomic status, tech usage level, gender, etc) of your target consumer.


    Leslie Brown giving some fun examples

  3. Context is important! Know where and when your company will play a role for your audience: Are people using your app at home? How about in a store? What time of day are they using it? These are crucial metrics to know, and can have a direct impact on which design is most appropriate and useful to the consumer.
  4. Avoid copying a best practice approach, it might not be the best for you: As the saying goes, “it is only the best approach until the next best thing comes along”. This ties into the “one size approach does not fit all” listed above. Hypes about different methodologies and frameworks go in and out, and you should take each of them with a grain of salt. Your projects and consumers are unique, and so should the ways you approach designing them.

    “It is only the best approach until the next best thing comes along.”

  5. Use your audience to help you identify your best market opportunity: Listen! Your audience could hint at potential opportunities that would be missed otherwise. They might pop up subtlety in side conversations, or more obviously when interviewing consumers and collecting feedback about your designs.

Smart design can be tricky, but at least these points can help keep us on track. Overall, it was a good event and I am looking forward to the next one!


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