Leslie Brown, director of research & consulting at Sachs Insights, offered this topic in her presentation on November 17 at the ADP Innovation Space in New York City. To set the stage, Leslie pointed out that smart design is knowing who you are designing for and creating the best product/experience for that audience.

Walking through examples and illustrations, Leslie really hit the point home with me when she spoke about Amazon. Too often at seminars, speakers trot out Amazon, Uber and Airbnb as examples of disruptive companies that everyone should copy. Leslie took a new and refreshing approach explaining that what works for Amazon may not work for you.

What will work for you? She believes in staying focused on the end-user customer and designing for them, using their language and context.

Leslie’s best practices recap, included here, is a valuable how-to guide:

  1. Use your audience to identify your best market
    • Remember, everyone is a consumer, but not everyone is your audience – including you!
    • Speak to the right audience, not just your ‘aspirational’ audience
    • Make sure your product/experience has an actual audience
    • Create personas that go beyond demographics
  2. Design from the outside in (not the inside out)
    • Determine how the audience views the landscape (vs. how you do)
    • Identify features and content they really want (or don’t)
    • Speak your audience’s language – capture their words and their expectations
    • One size or approach does not fit all
    • Make key tasks prominent and easily accessible
  3. Refine your product/experience iteratively to optimize time and budget
    • Check in with your audience early and often to optimize your design time and to have a successfully targeted product
    • Tailor your product/experience to each platform and channel it will be, and understand your brand promise across each touch point

For more information about Sachs Insights, see their approach to design.