Tug of War (Will Marketing ever get on board?)
I know we probably don't need another post describing the chasm between Marketing and Design, but here we go ;-) In recent years I've seen Marketing destroy good experiences for political reasons, timelines, advertising, and turf-wars. Of course these are the things that bother us Designers most. We want to produce a great product, something we're proud of and yes, even something that will help make the company money. The other day a graphic popped into my head. Besides the whims of the Marketing department (More Touchpoints!), these are the factors I see marketing using to create a product again and again:
(Download PDF Here - 64k)
Money, Focus Groups, Numbers, and Buzz. This is the deadly cocktail that will take a product from great to passable. Let me touch on each subject.
Marketing is in charge of getting you to take money out of your pocket, by force if necessary. Typical thought: "We make money on ads, we'll make more money with more ads.". While that almost makes sense, us users of the web know better.
Focus Groups -
Instead of observing people in their natural state of work, Marketing tends to fly people in, set them in a room and ask them questions. "What do you think of this?". Or, "which do you like better?". These end up being somewhat contrived, and not very useful.
Most Marketing Power Points I see are riddled with numbers that don't really mean anything. "90% of people buy things" - therefore if we sell something, someone will buy it. Or "MySpace has 30 million users", therefore our social website will do just as well.
The most fun to spot in a meeting, Buzz is responsible for many a fumbled project. While searching out and paying attention to trends is great. Spouting buzz words, and using buzz technologies as a product is not a good idea...
I've tried to balance this "Marketing Mix" with some good User Experience practices that can lead to a great product.
Common sense things like:
- Using best practices for technology and UI
- Staying ahead of the curve, and innovating
- Defining what is useful and desirable to your customers
- Viewing your customers in real world situations
- Working with Marketing on defining Business Goals and make sure they are met (while advocating for the users!)
These are just a few User Experience practices that can help launch something you'll want your friends to know about.
If you're in Marketing I hope you can partner with your UX team as well as your development team and strike some middle ground. And if you're a User Experience Professional, remember to equally take into consideration timelines and business goals.