Relevant Design

Made possible through the use of front-end and back-end web 2.0 technologies, Relevant Design merges the best values of persona based design with those of goal based design. Relevant Design is an executable platform with its own methodology to test and deliver targeted messaging to the goals of specific personas. Relevant Design creates unique rules based Dynamic Experiences (Dx). This facilitates the creation of optimally relevant user experiences that in turn improve online business results.

At the moment there are two prominent schools of thought around designing sites, landing pages or as some are beginning to prefer calling them, experiences. One school of thought revolves around persona-based design. Personas are very popular with brand marketers. Persona design involves creating experiences for people based on a certain set of assumed criteria about them. An example of a persona is Suzy Sunshine. Suzy is 31 years old and highly educated. Suzy works full time and is married. She has high household income and lots of it is disposable. Suzy is always busy. She’s a real multitasker and thus a convenience-based shopper. She knows what she wants and wants to get it as quickly and easily as she can. Hopefully you get the persona idea by now (and if you knew the idea I’m sorry you had to meet Suzy). Once a number of personas are created (and this number can be in the hundreds) then begins the work of evaluating them and designing experiences for those that are the most valuable.

The other school of thought is around goal-based design (and for reasons of full disclosure this has, up to now, always been my methodology). Goal design is the purview of direct marketers and the top user experience pros. The idea is that first you figure out the goal of the user and then you design around making the user able to complete their goal. Many times this involves research to discover the latent needs of users so these can be applied in the design. Goal based designers don’t care about Suzy Sunshine. They believe her education and multi-tasking have little-to-no influence on their ability to design an experience that she likes. In fact, there not really concerned at all with what Suzy likes. What they care about is what is Suzy trying to do. Once goals are determined then begins the work of research and testing to determine messaging that best speaks to users.

Both of these schools of thought have their pros and cons. Personas don’t take into account many of the standard usability principles. They are designing more based on emotional appeal. Goals can’t take into account that different messaging might be necessary for different personas. They are designing more based on best practices. Both can work. But neither will work as well as Relevant Design.

There are three tenants of Relevant Design and if you’ve been reading Jamie Roche’s blog you might be familiar with them.

Audience Segmentation
Dynamic Experience (Dx)
Radical Simplicity

Here’s how they equate to effect experiences and improve results.

Audience Segmentation=Dynamic Experience
Take what we know (return visit, referrer, keyword) and what we find out about the user (click path, self segmentation) and use the data to deliver rules based relevant content unique to any number of defined experiences.

Dynamic Experience=Radical Simplicity
Take any page on the web and you can find messaging and content on it that is not relevant for certain personas or goals. Dx removes this page noise for the user. The result is optimization through radically simple pages.

Radical Simplicity=Relevant Design
In order to deliver only relevant content and create the simplest user experiences we use web 2.0 tools for front-end rich internet applications (RIA) and back-end targeted content delivery with minimal IT involvement.

When you boil it down Relevant Design is the application of three key components, segmentation, RIA, and content targeting. Strategizing and executing any of these three components alone can improve your business. Taken together they will fundamentally change for the better the way you interact with your customers and more importantly the way your customers interact with you.

For some these ideas may seem to be a bit ahead of the curve. Maybe even bleeding edge. However, we have already engaged a number of top online properties and advertisers to strategize and execute Relevant Design. What these businesses understand is that there is a real risk if they don’t take first mover advantage of this design methodology. Online users have proved beyond a doubt that they are a fickle lot and they will move en masse towards sites that are simple, easy and relevant.

Coming soon, details on Relevant Design Methodology and Relevant Design Execution.

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