User-centric design has become increasingly popular in recent years as businesses and organisations recognise the importance of putting the needs and preferences of their users at the forefront of their design process. By prioritising user experience and incorporating feedback from users throughout the design process, companies can create products and services that are more appealing to their target audience. As a result, user-centric design has become a standard practice for many companies and is likely to continue to gain momentum in the years to come.
Is it a good idea to bring User-Centric Design principles to every single design solution that you are working on? Recently I had a lengthy conversation with a student about how applying user-centric design to, lets say, Branding might be a pretty bad idea. For laymen, let me give you a quick overview of the process involved in UX Design. The whole process starts from a problem. You are identifying a problem, understanding it, talking to the people who are affected by it (users), studying others who already dealt with a similar problem (competitors), facilitating a comfortable emotional journey for the user with your design solution, applying user psychology and executing it into a solution. This is the perfect workflow when you are trying to solving a problem that the users are having. Now lets come back to “Branding”. Would you consider this (branding) a problem that the users are having OR as a message that the brand has to say? I would go with the latter.
A lot of the process in a User Centric workflow is built on the concepts of Problem Solving. And with Branding, we are trying to convey a story about the brand — what is this brand all about, what is their vision, what is that they do and what is their persona! When you try to tailor a brand to the likes of the user, you are losing that story. Rather than telling the brand’s story, you are telling a story that the user might like. The result of this, is something called homogeneity.
When you are trying to make a brand look like what people like, well, everything will start to look the same.
Take a look at this image, and you will see the problem.
While trying to adapt the brand to what people can relate to, the brand lost it’s personality and voice. I know this is a debatable topic as some might find this more comfortable to look at than the previous logos— but thats where I am coming from. Branding doesn’t have to make you comfortable, but it must tell you who they truly are!
Now let’s talk about a reverse variant of this. Movie Posters! Have you noticed how old movie posters looked very similar in layout – headshots, titles, the whole deal? Perhaps that’s one industry which eventually realised the importance of Storytelling over UserExperience!
Old Film Posters had a similar visual style as they probably gave priority to what the users want to know about the film.
These days, movie posters are more honest to its genre. They focus on telling a story than showing the USPs of the film.