The power of social media to enable news to spread quickly is something we have understood for a while now. Breaking news headlines that race across Twitter and Facebook and status screens on your phone today are instrumental in saving lives, avoiding disasters and catalyzing change.
Should that same power be applied to improving the quality and agenda of product designers? For years, I have worked with designers who have tried to keep a mystique about what they do, separating themselves from the common Dilbert-cube masses through their discerning eye and high brow approach to the process of design evoution. But with the emergence of design thinking as a viable business approach to creating sustainable innovation and differentiation for companies, there is a burning need for empathy for design processes among the cube crowd.
In a non-corporate world, consumers also are fed up with low quality products that don't work as merchandised. They've taken to their social media soapboxes to catalog their woes, their bitterness and their disappointment with design for design's sake. Without formal design training they can tell you where you've missed their expectations, and show you how they have to work around the flaws designed into their product to produce a better outcome for themselves. More importantly they advise their circle of friends how to solve their problems with technology, too.
In his new book, ""Glimmer: How Design Can Transform Your Life and Maybe Even the World", Warren Berger describes this phenomenon of "citizen designers". He asserts that the power of the individual consumer to influence product design through accessible technologies and tools has dramatically increased in just a few years. This direct connection to the products which consumers love and hate creates new and diverse interactions for manufacturers, which can and should inform design.
Read more about the book in an interview with the author on cnn.com, or check out the book in my Favorite Reads section on the sidebar.
The Illusion of Brand Control - Related opinion from the Harvard Business Blog,
You've probably heard by now that "your brand is no longer yours." The assertion's based on simple math. In the era of blogs, discussion boards, Facebook, Twitter, and other Web 2.0 tools, virtually everyone can get online and talk about your company and its offerings. Read more here