Technology is at once disrupting the ad business and making new things and new career paths possible. For instance, when I started in the business 18 years ago there were no content strategists, user experience designers or SEO consultants. There was no digital marketing of any kind, other than some rudimentary banner placements. How times have changed.
In my opinion, one of the greatest impacts technology has had on the agency business is the rise of User Experience as an important new discipline. A reliance on UX shifts power to design and to designers. It also places greater emphasis on the execution of ideas. In a sense, UX grounds the creative process in reality. Ideas are a dime a dozen, but flawless execution is the difference between good and great.
User Experience is “the totality of an end-users’ perceptions as they interact with a product or service,” according to Mike Kuniavsky, a designer, researcher, author, and entrepreneur focused on people’s relationship to digital technology.
Thinking in terms of “end-users”, not audiences, means the usability of the communication is given primary importance. The result is often a visual language which is clean, precise and with plenty of white space (more on the rise of “flat design” in Adam’s post here).
“The usability of the communication is given primary importance.” This is a game changer, especially when you apply the concept to more than digital advertising.
What will happen when you start asking how usable a print campaign is? Some may argue that a print ad must have a response mechanism for it to be usable at all. I think that’s one factor, but there are others. The thing is copywriters and art directors are not trained to think in terms of usability. No one asks how a reader will interact with print, or other traditional media. But it is time to ask this fundamental question, and to look at all work for any media through the UX lens.
The question used to be, “How can we impress customers with our communications?” Today, a better question to ask when making an ad campign is, “How can we serve our customers’ needs with communications?”