Listen to the Users

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from design-thinking, it’s that listening is a most valuable skill.

You think you have an idea that will solve the problems of cyclists who need to cross intersections more safely? Just tell the city planner so it can be fixed. But before the solution gets employed, you might want to speak to cyclists themselves (like Patrick Jones). New discoveries are made when we ask open-ended questions.

What the designer might perceive to be a problem may not lead to the transformative fix. Anthropologists like Kenny Latta are used to doing field work to get to the crux of an issue. They empathize with others to truly understand what’s going on so that all facets and emotions are included in subsequent thinking and decision making.

If poor health is a problem in a low-income community, an obvious answer might be to occasionally send doctors to the people. But a closer look might unveil that transportation is what’s hindering people’s health because of a lack of access. If one doesn’t own a car and public transit is too inefficient or costly, a person might skimp on taking preventative healthcare measures. (Ruby Payne has a lot more to say on this matter.)

The reason I mentioned this, is that if we want to serve our audiences, we should listen and take note of what they want or even need.

Since my blogging debut, I’ve constantly sought the feedback of friends, family members, and co-workers. And they’ve had a lot to say. Some proofread for me. Some provide story leads. And some encouragingly say, “Keep it up.”

What’s been especially helpful are specific comments about my site:

  • “I do enjoy reading the articles that I know you are writing for a class, but you make them very entertaining and disguised so the average reader doesn’t know the purpose.”
  • “Can I guest post on your blog?”
  • “Consider establishing a separately branded Facebook profile to match memphismaverick.com. Not everyone who is friends with Burton wants to see your posts continuously pop up on their feeds. With a brand-specific page, those that like the page can receive updates.”
  • Apply the same logic to Twitter since my handle is @MemphisMaverick, yet it’s not as critical because you can get away with many more posts of varied topics there.
  • “Every time you publish a new post, put it on your Facebook so I can see it.”
  • Provide more photos of events.
  • “As a non-user of oh so many (almost all) social media applications. I laughed at your article. And as much as I hate to say it, reading your posts makes me wish I was more social media savvy. Enough to make me use it.”

Who doesn’t like receiving feedback? It’s a lot to think about and if I acted on everything, it could radically alter the way I’m operating. However, with four months in, I’m ready to shake things up.

Yes, I’m listening to the people so expect to see some different and exciting guest posts from creative millennials very soon.

What do you want from me?!

One comment

  1. I especially like this one: “I do enjoy reading the articles that I know you are writing for a class, but you make them very entertaining and disguised so the average reader doesn’t know the purpose.” That’s awesome. Also when people are volunteering to guest post that is a good sign.

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