I've 'just' come back from this splendid conference thing called Design Engaged. Everyone else there seemed to be an interaction designer, a recovering interaction designer or knew a lot about interaction design, where as I, er, wasn't. It was brilliant to be amongst who came from a completely different disciplinary world (I've never met people who say 'canonical' as much), it really forces you to examine your assumptions. And, fiends that they are, they made me come up with some new schtick to entertain them, so I've been forced to think new stuff. And since I'd done that I thought I'd share it here. However, while typing it out I've completely lost the will to care, it's so bloody long. So I'm going to divide it into (at least) two bits. We will start with the Two Things That Are Broken. Then, in the next post, we will do Two Places Where It Matters.
My basic point was that the model of marketing and advertising we're baking into new media and technologies is a fundamentally broken one. One that assumes marketing is about message delivery, intrusion and relevant information. It's not something we want to go over again here. Except that a kind gentleman called Tom Adam alerted me to a perfect example of what the whole industry seems to be aspiring towards. And how horrible the result is (you have to watch to the end):
Anyway, we'll come back to that. The second broken thing is this:
These are the bits of the average large organisation that we creative industries folks encounter. (I'm simplifying massively, obviously). Three silos, doing design or content-type stuff, marketing-type stuff and some sorts of aftersales. service, dealing-with-the-consequences-of-what-the-other-two-silos-do type stuff.
And they extend their silos into other bits of the organisation, and, out through the agencies they hire. And no silo ever talks to any other....
...because the process almost always proceeds steadily from left to right. Design make stuff and pass it to marketing who then work out what to say about it. There'll probably be some broader corporate direction that'll attempt to make this stuff more seamless, integrated and coherent and to connect the end to the beginning, but it always gets swamped by the org. So, by the time a product gets to someone like the advertising agency no-one wants any more thoughts about how the product might be improved. It's already too late. None of which is helped by...
...the enormous language and respect gap that runs between design and marketing. These two cultures don't share a common language. And they don't accord each other much respect. So all you tend to hear are the two groups bitching about how the other lot doesn't get it. In fact, moaning about marketing is probably one of the ways you define yourself as a designer.
This isn't news especially. It's not even been a particular problem. Let's of stuff gets made under these conditions. Some of it's not bad. This is just how organisations are.
However, it should be noted that people actually experience the product in a different order. People's experiences of most big-time consumer products starts with the communications / marketing / whatever you want to call it. The experience starts with the thing that gets built second. This, I suspect, is why we're not seeing more people actively doing something like pre-experience design. It's not because integrating marketing and design thinking isn't a good idea, it's because it's organisationally / politically impossible.
This may not have been a problem in the past, but as more and more products 'informationalise' it's going to become more of an issue.
We'll talk a bit more about them in the next post. When I've roused myself to write it down. I think that bit'll be a little more interesting.