From use to redesign
A lot of times, people don’t know what they need until you show it to them.”– is one of the famous quotes by the late Steve Jobs. One of the big problems with this statement is that only a genius like Jobs can envision the future from a customer and design point of view. And frankly speaking he did not get it right all the time. The cost of getting innovative products to the market to wow customers all the time is not only difficult but also expensive. The recent perceived failure of new devices launched by the large mobile device companies is an example how expectations keep getting bigger and more difficult to fulfil.
One of the big things that product companies rely on is launching variants of the base product to keep the customers interest high and keep the product current and relevant to demand. Could there be a more scientific way for getting things right from a redesign point of view if not a new product launch as a start. May be the use of analytics might help. Use of a product is certainly a measure of its need and maybe to some extent any wants associated with specific clients. What I am trying to argue here is that wants and needs might interchange between different customers using the same product. So if there is a way by which we can build a measure of needs and wants that are either consciously or subconsciously displayed by a customer through the use of a product it can help designers in a big way and help in reducing the cost of failures associated with new design variants.
More importantly, once we get this part right we can start simulating future use of a product and then design purely from a need point of view. I am very sure that need is the most important starting point for every design and the problem is that not everybody can assess need easily or more importantly not everybody finds it necessary to identify how things can be made better. We however subconsciously use products and their features based on our needs and our perception of a feature or functionality to fulfil our need. If we can tap into this vast ocean of information and identify patterns design then just becomes a filler to formalise a need and make it universally available to all users.
I still remember the first touch screen phones that came with a stylus neatly tucked inside the instrument and many a times during an emergency I myself used my bare fingers to navigate through the phone not realising that a phone using a human finger as a stylus might just be the right answer to a great design – but someone else did and the rest they say is history.