Falling in love with your operating system

Posted by | February 17, 2014 | Fun | No Comments

There are a couple of films that have really identified with web designers and creative professionals in the last year. First was the ‘Steve Jobs’ movie that I really enjoyed (especially as a mac boy and designer) but ultimately was no more than a standard biographical film based on his life.

The second film is ‘her’ starring Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore and written, directed and produced by Spike Jonze. This American science fiction movie tells the thoroughly engaging story of Theodore – an introverted man who develops a relationship with his operating system (named Samantha) and as their relationship blossoms he becomes ever more dependent on her.

Now, as designers (especially web designers) we are hugely involved with our operating systems. Most of us are on a mac and no matter what version you are running, you simply could not operate without it. But it’s very much still a mechanical relationship – a system that has a purpose and despite Apples best efforts, has yet to develop a personality in the same way as Samantha. A deeper relationship may not be too far away but heaven help us if that becomes reality.

However on the web, there are signs of this changing and as a web designer this is both amazing and scary at the same time.

The best websites engage with their user – we now have tools at our disposal that allow us to build 1:1 experiences with our users. Like Theodore, marketeers have finally got the message that ‘shout shout shout’ marketing died a long time ago, and now the true value of the internet and social media is that it allows you to build a personal relationship with your user – make them feel special and display content that is relevant to them and them only.

Imagine going shopping for a new dress. As you walk down the main drag, an advert appears on the side of the tram or the waste bin with a personal piece of marketing targeted for you and you only.

‘Hey Chloe, how beautiful would this dress look on you? Just $59! 100m, turn right and Indigo awaits you.’

Amazed, you take the next right in 100m and walk straight into the Indigo store. On arrival, the attendant greets you by name and has the dress ready to be tried on. Offline, this kind of technology is not far away from becoming mainstream in the outside world.

Online, it’s already working overtime. You will notice content, web banners and Facebook ads that are highly targeted to your interests. While I find it a little intrusive at times, it makes you aware of how your personal data and browsing choices are being collected then executed on.

For web designers, the challenge is to simplify the user experience so that it is seamless, engaging and above all enjoyable for the user. If the user is engaged and feels a connection with your brand – whether through design, content or functionality (hopefully all 3), that will in turn lead to a better return on your digital investment. We are judged not just on style but more importantly on how our digital executions generate results for our clients. If a business makes a 20k investment in their website, an app or an online marketing campaign, then nothing short of a 20k return is adequate. Everything we do in the digital world can be tracked, analysed and then improved to deliver positive results for your business.

If you would like to talk design, strategy or anything digital, please drop me a line to see how I can help you and your business.