There was once a successful entrepreneur who would spend excessive amounts of time and resources on the minute details and aesthetics of his products. He didn’t care if the result was a huge spike in manufacturing and end-market costs. This man was vehemently opposed to compromising the integrity of even the most insignificant facet of engineering or design. Most people in his company thought he was crazy:
“How can we justify asking customers to pay this much for our products?”
“These manufacturing prices will destroy our profit margins”
These sentiments are those of the average CEO in response such rebellious ideas – To the CEO’s it’s all about making a profit and very little about making a decent product.
Fortunately for those who are currently enjoying that awesome little gadget you have in your pocket, this entrepreneur’s persistence and persuasion prevailed. As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, that stubborn renegade was Steve Jobs.
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works” — Steve Jobs.
The essence of this Jobs’s quote is just beginning to resonate with today’s business leaders and transforming our world into what is soon to be known as: The Golden Age of User Experience.
VC’s are pouring cash into design-led companies
What do the following companies all have in common, aside from being hugely popular?:
Isn’t it obvious? Why do some many people gravitate to the offerings of these companies? It’s because they’re intuitive, easy to use and all founded and led by designers. And that is just the first wave of design-led enterprises. Start-ups like Typekit, Instagram, Lovely, Etsy, Pinterest, hunch, and many more were recently backed by lots of bright-eyed investors.
But the question still remains, why is it that design-led companies are taking off. And more importantly, why is it happening now?
There’s been a revelation in the start-up world. Angel investor Dave McClure has an answer to our question:
“Probably more than half of the startups, and more than 90% of the investors, have no clue what they are doing when it comes to user experience and online marketing.”
And the people who do have clue, well, they’re the designers. And companies need them now more than ever.
Companies of all sizes operating in all markets are beginning to realize that design and marketing may deserve more attention than what they’ve been given in the past.
2 reasons why design and marketing trump engineering
1. Addictive User Experience & Scalable Distribution Methods will almost always be more important than pure engineering talent
- Case and point – Without Jobs’ eye for design and user-ability, it’s unlikely that his brilliant team of coders would have sculpted the iPod into the beautiful device it is today. It might have ended up looking like a Zune.
2. Visual Imagery and Content Marketing
- It extends one step beyond compelling user experience. It needs to be coupled with visuals and text that enforces calls to action.
BONUS Reason: Because it’s likely start-ups are reporting to a board of investors whose backgrounds don’t even begin to claim expertise in either design or marketing from consumer Internet companies.
“Do you really want to be taking product and marketing advice from someone who has spent most of his or her life without ever having designed a Web page, coded a simple program, written a blog post or e-mail, or even have a Facebook or Twitter account they know how to use with any amount of intelligence whatsoever?” — McClure
User experience is here to stay
Those who are unemployed and have skill sets within the user experience design (UX) field, likely won’t be unemployed for long. The UX field is growing very fast and becoming a standard and staple within promising consumer related start-ups. People spend more time interacting with a product or brand if its touch-points are intuitive, elegant and requires a low-threshold for engagement. And UX specialists are the best in the biz at increasing that brand-consumer interaction time.
The UX field is broken down into several job types like user research, usability analyst, information architect, interaction designer visual designer, and UX designer. Companies are recognizing their importance to the success of any consumer-oriented company. And so should you.