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I recently watched an interesting TED talk by Tony Faddell about how habitual we are and how being a good designer requires us to notice the detail to uncover the problem.

It made me think. … As humans we are really far too used to our own habits that we create ourselves. When we disrupt the habit – chaos reigns for a short time, till that chaos once again becomes habit.

The key is to ensure that the disruption is worth it.

When we look closer, we see tiny flaws, things that suddenly erk us, things that could work better. Those things weren’t there before but now they are and because you looked at it closely now they annoy you. Then everything else that is like that thing, also annoys you. This sounds like a criticism of looking at something closely but its not. The only way to move forwards is to engage in a series of analysis and then change. But us humans we hate that because we like living in our tiny bubble of existence floating aimlessly in our own private worlds where no one else is welcome.

Well it’s time to get a great big pin and pop that bubble. We need change, we need to unhabituate, get rid of the preconceived idea that “that’s just the way it is” . It’s not, nor does it have to be.

Tony also spoke about looking broader, take a wider view of the world when you are looking at how everything is perceived.

If we use the development of a website as an example we can see that there are good websites and literally useless websites.

The good ones think about the user experience, they’ve thought about how someone might engage with the site, who that person might be and what problem they have come to your website to solve. Then there are websites that are all about how great the company is, what awards they won, their products are hard to locate and contacting them is harder than getting blood out of stone.

The good ones have unhabituated in their design process – they considered their customer. Big noting ourselves is what we used to do, we used to put an ad in the yellow pages and that was all you needed to do to market your business, then advertising came in and we needed a bit more of a call to action or an offer and now we have the internet and the whole world is competing with each other, now we need to rethink the whole damn thing. So we need to shake off the shoulder pads from the 80’s and get your hipster swagger on and start to really consider how to break your customers habits.

Now we need to pre empt questions, we need to give freebies, we need to wow and impress. We need to use technology to give them what they didn’t even know they needed.

So if we go back to looking broadly;

Looking broadly at a website means looking at

  • Who is going to come to your site
  • What problems do they have
  • What search terms might they use to find you
  • What information are they seeking when they get there

So you should question if your website

  • Speaks to the target market
  • Tells them enough on the home page about what you do to solve their problem
  • Is optimised for the right search terms
  • Gives the right information to the user for them to make an informed decision

Then we need to take the microscope out and figure out their user journey on your site.

Looking closer we need to ask

  • What is the very first thing they want to do when they get to your site
  • How can you get them to buy into the fact that you have the solution
  • Do you need a lead magnet to help get their data
  • How are you going to engage with them best
  • Does the site cross promote your products or services well enough?

We have gotten so used to going to a website and finding the products and services, knowing where the contact us page will be, glancing at the about us page to check out who these people are and having a brief look at case studies because we all know that if someone else has bought from them and they are saying good things, they can’t be that bad…

But what if we broke some of those habits?

What if we turned websites on their head

What if we started to show our customers how we solve problems because they typed in a certain search term, almost like predictive text, the website predicts the answer. We all know that search engines are smart these days, we know that if we searched for something yesterday, that out ads today will happen to magically have those companies we looked for yesterday in our feed. So if search engines can create predictive algorithms, why can’t we as businesses.

  • Predict what your customers wants
  • Predict what they will desire and then what else can you show them that they also might be interested in.
  • Break the habit of your customers visiting a site and it being so boring and bland that it takes them 20 minutes to get the answer.
  • Make sure you set up an email nurture campaign so they get your info drip fed to them.

We need to see the world they way our customers see the world, so we market our businesses to them and our product and services to them through their tinted glasses, not ours, but also go beyond what they expect and give them what they need.

So next time you are planning major changes to your website, think about what habits you have always stuck to with the development of your site and think outside of the box. Think about how different you could be to engage with your customers.

Then before you start actioning anything stop and break your own habit of trying to solve the problem on the fly and plan it.

Decent websites require brain power and consideration to work out what frustrations your users may come up against. Solve those first. Think about the user journey and what they might be thinking. I will bet you that they are not wondering how you came to be so good at what you do – they couldn’t care less so DON’T make that your core focus on your website.

  • Good design comes from listening, consideration and careful planning.
  • Good marketing comes from understanding who you are pitching to and what they might need from you in order to solve their problem.

Combine the two, get rid of the “it’ll do nature” and “that’s just the way things are” concept. Break the mold and show your customers that you are a cut above the rest.

Unhabituate and be free.

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