Why What You Think Matters Much Less Than You Think It Does


Sunday, 9.08pm

Sheffield, U.K.

We tend to be distracted by the voices in our own heads telling us what the design should look like. – Michael Bierut

Everything is a design problem.

The word “design” brings up different pictures for different people.

For some it’s about fashion, look and feel.

For others it’s about thinking and planning and structure.

But the design thinking approach can be used whether you’re trying to solve a business problem, make a website look good or sort out your LinkedIn profile.

And it starts by realising that no matter how much time you spend looking in the mirror and trying to see how you come across, you won’t get any closer to seeing how your prospective customer sees you without doing some more work.

That work usually takes the form of a conversation – one face to face perhaps, or one that happens using the information and interface you present to your prospects.

Luke Wroblewski, in his book Web form design: Filling in the blanks, calls web forms Brokers, because they talk to customers on your behalf.

You might have thought, until now, that the purpose of a form was to capture information from customers.

It turns out, instead, that they are a way for you to have a conversation without being there – if you design them right.

Wroblewski says that there are principles you should follow.

For example, no one wants to fill in a form, so make it easy to do.

They’re only going to fill it in if it’s worth their time – and it’s up to you to make it completely clear that it is.

And you can only do this well if you really understand what your customer is trying to do.

But at the same time is that actually the case – do you really need to get inside your prospect’s head?

We’re all sold on the idea that Apple devices can just be used – they’re intuitive.

But is anything really intuitive?

Some people argue that when say something is intuitive what we really mean is that it’s familiar – it’s something we know how to do.

So maybe the purpose of design is actually to give people what they expect.

And that gives us a clue as to how the world really works.

For example, the words a prospect uses to search for what you do may not be the same words you use.

So, if you want to be found on LinkedIn, which words should you use?

The answer is pretty obvious, isn’t it?

Some of my friends have learned this lesson better than I have.

They try and understand what the customers they want are looking for and then design their organisation and their communications to be in the right place – to be familiar.

After all, if you are good enough, maybe one day people will find you.

If you go and stand where they go to look you’ll almost certainly be found.

And if you look the part – if you’re familiar – then you’ll probably get the job as well.

You just need to get yourself out of your own way.


Karthik Suresh

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