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Quality Design Requires Learning to Forget

June 7th, 2011 — 10:48pm

It is easy to forget that everyone may not see the world as you do. Of course we know that everyone is different, and people have different beliefs on religion and politics. However we forget that what separates us is not just perspective but knowledge. While an understanding of perspective is crucial to all markets and is given much focus in the branding process, knowledge base is just as crucial. As marketers we need to learn to forget what we know and place in our heads the knowledge of the audience to create effective messages.

In the creation of any website the goal is to create a story or an experience that will truly speak to your audience. As a part of creating the story we need to carefully craft an experience that meets the user at their knowledge level. We would not try to teach algebra to a first grader, nor would we try teaching multiplication tables to a college math major. In order to craft an effective message, we need to start by understanding what the knowledge collection of the audience is, so our message does not speak down or over them. That process starts by trying to forget what we know.

A crucial step in the branding and information design process is gathering an understanding of the website users. We need to understand the user’s knowledge base about the product/service, the company/organization, and the industry as a whole. Then it is essential to map how our knowledge differs from the end users. We can break the knowledge into three basic categories:

  • What we know about the product †.
  • What we know our customers know about the product.
  • What we do not know our customers know about the product.

In order to create a marketing message that truly speaks to an audience we cannot be biased by our knowledge. At the same time we have to get our clients to forget also. Together by pretending we do not know what we know, we can craft a message that truly speaks to the audience at the level they are at.

† By product we are referring to the brand, the organization/company, the industry, the product category, etc.

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