From your business structure to the smallest product detail, design builds trust between your customer and your company.
When Steve Jobs tasked his team with building the iPod, he continuously reminded them to "stay beginners" to treat your interactions with the device as if it was the first time. This meant not to assume a consumer would know how to work a certain aspect of the device, or that he or she would instinctively know how to navigate from one area to another. The smallest details mattered.
Take the fact that the iPod came fully charged and ready to be used. As iPod designer Tony Fadell explained in his TED talk featured on the TED Radio Hour episode “The Power of Design”, back then most products you pulled out of the box required a couple hours charging time before they could be played with. This completely killed the excitement of those who finally had their hands on this new, remarkable gadget.
“Little details are so important,” Liddell said. “And not just from a rational side, but an emotional one too.”
Design’s ability to provide a rational and easier way of doing things combined with a larger emotional appeal is what makes it such a powerful tool for entrepreneurs. It can affect anything from the structure of a product to its placement in front of a customers’ eyes.
Neil Grimmer, co-founder of Plum Organics, quickly realized that his original idea for disrupting the baby food industry wouldn’t hold up against the traditional parent mindset or foot patterns in grocery stores.
“The technology was going toward healthier ideas for food that were these frozen cups in the frozen foods aisle,” Grimmer said. “Only problem, moms weren’t thinking baby food and frozen food.”
This presented a hitch in their original design idea, and required them to go back to the drawing board in order to discover their final product—one more aligned with a customer’s thought process and intuition—a flexible food pouch for healthier, pureed baby food.
The design of something can also play a large part in the emotional response a customer needs to feel in order to confidently, rationalize why they should buy it. There’s a certain level of trust that has to be established that, depending on the industry, can make or break a company’s appeal and adoption.
Encouraging trust is the most important factor that Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia said turned the idea of people renting out their rooms and entire houses from crazy to plausible, and eventually investor-worthy and profitable. In order to do this though, everything about the company and its design had to persuade people away from a singular idea: “Strangers equal danger.”
Gebbia explains how everything from the homepage and property descriptions to their chat function and review process had to make customers and participants feel a certain way about someone, not just something.
Airbnb has shown that design and emotion can be a company’s biggest competitive advantage in this day and age, outpacing speed and processor power that ruled previous waves of entrepreneurs. The sharing economy is built on this acceptance of trust, and requires new ways of interaction and feedback between customer and company.
Allyson Downey, co-founder of weeSpring, realized this idea affected every part of her platform, a place to review and share baby products, down to the smallest detail.
“We realized pretty quickly that the five-star rating system people traditionally use didn’t make sense with our platform,” Downey said. “I mean how useful is it for me to tell you I feel four stars about my baby wipes. So we changed the review process to focus on the usefulness and security parents felt about the products.”
By making a product personal to the customer as a person, it can increase the reputation and dependence on that product over time. And the beautiful thing is, design persuasion can be as big as an entire website or as small as an intricate detail, say a fully charged battery when you open it for the first time.