Bad Design Ruins Businesses

I've been thinking a lot recently about how people and design, interact on a deeper level. I'm talking about a real emotional connection here, the type you would see on one of those cheesy 90's soap operas with hazy lighting and dramatic music. I know this all kinda sounds far fetched, and too many people it would seem borderline insane but it's a reality.

Don't just take my word for it. Look at the recent update to the Instagram branding. People were up in arms over how Instagram had ruined their product because they changed something as simple as branding. I'm not talking about a simple disagreement here, I'm talking about full on arguments over just the COLOR changes. Do you see what I'm getting at here? People love their products that they use everyday. The products become a part of them, and change is a hard pill to swallow.

Now I'm not saying any of this to be negative in fact to me this is really amazing. Such a simple thing as a brand can have such a huge impact on people and how they think. That to me is so amazing that I chose to spend a lot of time studying why these things happen. When looking at Instagram and how they changed their application and branding I like to think about what they're thinking. Why did they choose to change their brand? Because if you look at it they already had an established brand that people know and love. In fact, Instagram is so vital to so many peoples lives, that millions of people have it on their main menu bar on their iPhone. Think about that for second. Your main menu bar on your iPhone is your holy grail, it is where you have all your mean applications, it's where you keep your most convenient shortcuts that you use multiple times the day. Not just once or twice, but the whole day. Some people even wake up in middle of the night and check their Facebook or Instagram just out of habit.

That's the power of these companies is that they're not just making the brand they're creating habits from their brands. People are thinking and doing based on these habits that are formed with repetitively using an application. And this could be applied to so many different things. For example if you look at the government. When you think of government applications you think of something really clunky that most people don't want to use. In fact people that work for the government don't even want to use the applications that they're given. And this has a lot to do with the fact that these applications were made in the early 2000's. And they hadn't been updated since. But if these government applications would be so easy to use and addicting, then it would create habits in the employees that trickles down to tasks performed offline.

To give an example of how this affects people I want to talk about one of my friends that works for the city of New Orleans. My friend Lisa works at city hall downtown. She handles thousands of different invoices every single day. I'm not talking about one or two I'm talking about literally thousands. And the way these documents are being handled is they're manually being updated through a computer that has operating system built in the early 2000s. Just think for a second about how inefficient that is. We have cell phones that can deposit a check into your bank account in less than 10 seconds. But some branches of the government are still using processes that have been outdated for 5 to 10 years.

So how can we improve this? What are the best ways to improve something that's been broken for a long time is to start from scratch. If you try to build the system on top of something that's already broken then what you're doing is in essence building on sand. When you build on sand the foundation is easily worn away through years wear and tear. So starting from scratch is vital for this. Building on a solid rock foundation will make sure that the application can be built up on in the future and not need to be redesigned again. Let's be real redesigning takes a lot of work but sometimes you have to burn something down in order for things to grow a new. So the first thing would be to figure out the main stress points. In the example that I mentioned earlier the main stress point is manually having to insert invoices. An obvious solution for that is the use an industrial scanner that looks at hand writing and translates that into a computer database. Now all the person we need to do would be to proofread and make sure the numbers align. That takes away 75% of the work.

Systems like this would have the government millions of dollars a year. It's not easy to start new but in situations where the foundation is already unstable it is a necessity.