Designing for Humans in a Digital World: Intuition & Innovation

Mike Eustis, Senior Creative Director, Brand at Tommy Bahama


As leaders in our respective industries, we have all been challenged to design best-in-class guest experiences that are also innovative—new experiences that break the mold. The reality is that a great guest experience and true innovation may be miles apart, and the delta is dictated by what the guest is willing to tolerate and what they find intuitive.


Following are a few highlights from Mike's XD talk:

Innovation and intuition, the combination, it basically equals empathy.

We're all leaders, we're all asked to design or create these innovative experiences, best in class experiences for our guests, new ideas that we haven't seen before, but the reality is that that really great experience and that innovation could be miles apart. Finding the delta between what the guest is really willing to tolerate and what they're used to, it's really dictated by what they find intuitive.

The two most important things are basically research and data. Have we asked the right questions and … how are we really studying that data and do we have the right people or data scientists, letting us know what that data means?

So when we're designing that experience, it's like, well, I know everything about this brand, I know everything about the business goals, what the intent of this project is, what we expect success to look like, but we really need to keep our guests to heart and not just that loyal guests they mentioned prior. We need to keep our future guests in mind. How are we always acquiring and creating awareness and really making the experience easy, free of distraction?

We have to account for real life engagement.

And then the really important thing is that there's always one more way to solve a problem … There’s always a better way or a different way, so we have to really consider and plan into all of those alternate paths, get out of that mindset of linear thinking. We're definitely going to strengthen the experience and broaden the experience and the success for the guests.

So when we're truly designing with empathy, it's bridging the gap between the innovation and intuition, and we should be inspired always to think of a new way to speak to our guests and reach our guests and really think about how are they approaching this journey. What is their experience like, wherever they are, whatever mechanism they're using?

So think about your features, think about the experience as a whole, and edit. Everything has to have a human reason for being there. I think one of the challenges — I was talking about day to day and just real life engagements and people are distracted and our phones are so distracting and there's so much happening all the time, whether you're working and taking care of the kids or whether you're trying to multitask at work or you're sitting out in the park, we have very short attention spans. I don't know if anyone's heard the fact that a goldfish seemed to have a longer attention span than humans, which is not that inspiring. But maybe that is a good data point when we're designing for our products.

I've worked with a lot of different teams and everything looks great on a whiteboard. You go through those sessions, you've got all your Post-it notes, you have your business goals, maybe the sprint was just super successful but maybe too quick, and maybe we're designing for that best case scenario always. No bad actors. They're going to do everything perfect. But we're not designing for the off-script behavior. We're not designing for those real life moments and just that attention span that we really have to keep in mind.

So that kind of comes down to just intuition and, at the end of the day, the success of all of our products and our experiences and our building loyalty with our guests, it all needs to go down to something very simple, something very intuitive. Remember that we only have a very short time to capture that guest's attention. If they have a great experience in a short time and they accomplish their goals, however they get there, we should be thinking about that path, not the linear, but the multiple ways in. They're going to come back. And what they find intuitive, they're going to find easy. What they find easy, there's your loyalty.

But the features and the tools that aren't used, they do a couple things. They confuse our guests. I think I've downloaded almost 75% of the cool apps on iTunes or the ones I'm interested in and I have 500 apps I just don't end up using because they looked really good. They looked like they could help me. They looked like they had these products or features that would really either plan my day, give me a better path on a bike ride, whatever. But we're really spending so much time on this over-development and kind of overthinking the experience on what the guests could need or would need. Or maybe if they did this they might like this. And if they engage here, then what's the next step? But some of those features they're never going to be used and they slow down the time that we actually get product to market.

There is so much that we can do. And it's exciting and when you think about this is a completely new experience and they're going to love it and it's something that they've never seen before, but when you provide so many options you're over-designed and you're also not accounting for that time that they need to learn all those new tools and new features. It's definitely a risk.

So the message here, keep it simple … But it's really editing and it's removing obstacles and it's thinking about every single piece. It's thinking about all of the colors. It's thinking about your photography, it's thinking about how many steps it takes for them to be successful.

So social science, super important, obviously taking into account when we're trying to create these innovative experience. We need to know more about our guests and we need to know more about people in general and how they are engaged and it changes every single day.

We really need to remember to constantly listen to the guests, get their feedback.

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