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Product Design: Once More, With Feeling

As a technology professional, it’s easy to get caught up in the, well, technology of it all: the features, infrastructure and integrations that bring your software, applications and services to life. But you can’t lose sight of the point of all of that technology: creating value for someone, someone with their own unique needs, desires and reactions. Even if you’re a B2B company like PGi, eventually the service or product you sell will be utilized by an individual, and you have to ask yourself a very important question: how do I want that individual to feel when they’re using my product?

Bringing Feeling into Product Design

As our CEO recently pointed out, the customer is never moving as quickly as the technology. We strive to be innovative, but it’s imperative that we do it in an intelligent way with an eye to the customer’s needs. Too much innovation can be overwhelming for an end user, and too little will leave you in your competition’s dust.

The question I posed earlier, “How do I want that individual to feel when they’re using my product,” has to be an integral part of your product design team’s mantra. It’s not a question you can ask and answer once. It has to be a recurring theme throughout all of your decision-making in order to craft engaging, valuable products and services.

Designing the Feeling of iMeet

For example, when we designed iMeet®, we knew we wanted to reimagine what web conferencing and collaboration could both look and feel like. The look part is fairly obvious: the “cubes” and how they animate, the customizable backgrounds and profile pictures, the intentional lack of overwhelming, complex UI features, etc.

But the feel was far more important to get right. Rather than focusing just on feature parity, instead we worked with an anthropologist to understand how people meet, the underlying psychological and sociological drivers and pitfalls of meetings, and designed around those ideas.

Overly complex online meeting tools may sell themselves as “robust,” but ultimately, overwhelming users with features just creates a stigma of fear and nervousness around collaborating online. Using these tools becomes a source of worry and frustration rather than easy collaboration:

  • Will I be able to find the features I need?
  • Will the product work?
  • Will it represent me and my brand in the proper light?

We knew to overcome these fears that iMeet just had to work, and work in a way that was immediately apparent and appealing. The one-touch connections, the mobile apps, the chat and note features, the customization – all designed with a careful consideration of the user’s needs and attitudes for collaboration.

Innovative technology built on a foundation of user-centric design principles – that’s the heart of all of PGi’s products and services, and an overall shift in the entire technology marketplace. As technology becomes easier to create, distribute and monetize, features become less important than the experiences those features can create.

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