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Usability Trumps Persuasion


So the Dots conference, hosted admirably by Antony Mayfield and the smart folk at Brilliant Noise on Wednesday was rather good. Antony kindly asked me to curate it for them so I'm somewhat biased, but it seems like lots of other people think so too, which is nice.

Adam (the best live blogger I know) did a fantastic job of writing up each talk at warp speed as it was being delivered and you can read the output behind each speaker biog here. They were all great, but talk of the day for me went to Professor Martin Elliot, Co-medical Director at Great Ormond St Hospital, who talked about this, and more besides, in an amazingly compelling way.

Soundbite of the day though went to Russell Davies who opened the conference with his usual brilliance. Russell talked about how the context of innovation was changing, and how digital companies have developed very different habits from traditional organisational approaches (something I talk about a lot). They put usability first.

He described how it's always been better to have a brilliant product than a parity product with marketing, but it was just easier to do the latter. Now marketing has got way harder and (with increasing digitisation) creating great products much easier. Yet still companies are still set up around persuasion and the focus rests with trying make existing ways of doing things more digital. So as Russell says, 'usability trumps persuasion'. Or put another way, get the basics right before you have an awayday. Russell's three rules were:

1. No innovation until everything works. 

2. The product is the service is the marketing

3. Make things open – it makes things better.

You can read more about Russell's talk over here

Co-incidentally, this cross-over between product and marketing is something that we'll be exploring in our next Firestarters (not the performance one) in a couple of weeks time (it's the 17th September so hold the date and more on that imminently). 

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