I always preferred system programming without touching the User Interface design till a few days back. I and a few of my team mates, Vivek, Aravind and Uttam started developing a new web application to ease managing and organizing meetings. Vivek is the one who took this initiative and rest of us joined on the way. At the design and task division phase, Aravind was assigned the task of user authentication with Infosys credentials and search functionality, Vivek voluntarily took the User actions part, Uttam was given the management of meetings and guess what I got…; the only remaining part: UI design part. Since this work was something extra to our regular work, we realized that this need to be attractive and useful enough to impress the people to whom we are planning to pitch it. We all put a sincere effort planning and designing it. We created a SVN repository for our project. We fixed the data we will use in our system and there by Vivek and I designed a database and got reviewed by Uttam and Aravind. Next task in the queue was UI. We all unanimously wanted the UI to be super cool. This put me under pressure. I was the only one in the team who never liked that work and now am doing it. I did my homework, learning CSS, basic do’s and don’ts of UI design, etc and came up with a design. Thanks to my other team mates; they gave constructive feedbacks: change in colour, alignment, UI response on user action, etc. I have to accept that the UI entirely changed from the one I came up with. Still I was happy that all those changes made the UI unbelievably awesome (only for four of us..: P). But that cannot be concluded before we get feedback from the outside world. Once the major UI development was over, we moved to next task in the pipeline: middle tier. Uttam and Aravind spend a quality time on that, completing it in no time. Parallel to their work, I tried new things with CSS and html and kept on making small changes in our application to reach our goal of a super cool UI, under strict guidance of Vivek. In between we realized that the gradient feature available in CSS, which we already used in the software doesn’t work well in Safari browser. In no time, we came up with a solution for that: replace the gradient with a similar image. [No browser will face any issue in loading an image to the screen, they are used to it from time unknown! ;)] At the final stage we wanted some dummy data in the database, so that we will know the UI looks as expected with original data. Vivek, Anand (fifth person we took into our team for testing the application, we wanted a unbiased feedback of the application; note: developers never accept their bugs:P) and I populated the database with all the data we could think of. The final moment reached. It was the day, a person having 8 years of experience in my unit, Roshan was leaving the company; of-course not because of our application, he got a better job offer. Roshan had his cubicle near to that of Aravind. Many came to his cubicle to wish him a great future and that’s when we put our application running. We could attract a few from that big crowd to our newly developed system. We gave them an informal presentation of the system detailing how it will be useful to all of us. Roshan too joined in between. That was the time, we developers had an irregular heart beat; what if we get a negative feedback. ALL WENT WELL…! Ya, all were impressed, wow.. Roshan saved his feedback for later by just saying he liked it. A time of rejoice, our hard work paid, although pitching it to our pre-planned clients is still pending, the feedback made us confident. And later when we all had tea, snacks and DIWALI SWEETS (brought by Uttam when he came back from home that day) with Roshan, we could know from Roshan too that he too is impressed with the idea, he commented on the UI too. I was so happy to hear that. Roshan is a very knowledgeable person whom you can approach and he will make sure the problem is solved with the best solution possible. Hearing those words from such a person made me think what if the functionalities were working perfectly but the UI was dull! What if software itself was very good but we were not able to market it, convince the audience about the need of such a system? That got me into a conclusion that whatever we do, let it be our daily work or one time work, should be done in a presentable manner and time should be dedicated for its marketing as well. It remembers me of Steve Jobs, he didn’t create anything new but he presented the already available desktops and laptops in a super cool look and feel and above all he successfully created a hype for his products. Ever seen his keynote in WWDC(World Wide Developers Conference)? Fully organized, simple, eye-catchy and what not! People would just wait for him to say ‘One more thing..’ and the words he gonna say after that. I would say, Apple Inc is not a company which specializes in developing products but they are THE MOST ADVANCED BRAINS IN MARKETING it.
Developing a revolutionary product, but failing to market fails the product itself. Recently, in a Harvard Business Review: “Why Most Product Launches Fail”, they claimed that the biggest problem is the lack of preparation. Companies get so focused on the designing and manufacturing of new products and they postpone the hard work of getting ready to market them until too late in the game.
Everything in this world has a force of inertia with it, which keeps it from changing the present course of action. My question is, isn’t it the same kind of force which keeps us from moving out of our comfort zone? If we find comfort in buying a product, we keep on buying it, no matter how many or how better other alternatives are. So being a company/individual who tries to sell a product, what should you do? Put a little effort which help the target market get out their usual trajectory and buy our product. Let your pitch-in/ advertisement/ Proof-Of-Concept-demo show the entire benefits of your system, why it stands out from other equivalent products, in an impressible manner.
Know your audience. Since I am working in an IT industry, I will quote an example from the industry. If you are presenting a product to a set of managers, don’t bore them with all technical details. Make your keynote impressible includes adding pictorial representation of your products performance. This audience will be more interested to know details like margin, ROI(Return On Investment), breakpoint, etc. Suppose your keynote is to a group of architects, the same pictures and graphs wont work here. They are more interested in version numbers, logics, frameworks, etc. So know the taste of your audience and change your marketing strategy accordingly. Spending more time to have separate keynotes/advertisements for different target audience is worth spending. You can see the classic example of it in Television advertisements. Companies spend more money to translate their advertisements to regional languages. In internet, advertisement takes an entirely different form. I don’t know how many of the “internet surfers” know that their location details, behaviour of browsing, sites they prefer, keywords they search often are all logged and analyzed to predict their behaviour and extract information like what kind of products they will be interested in, whether they are bothered about the quality of a product or its price or some other attribute of it. That’s why you get an advertisement saying 60% off for Nike shoes, when you were thinking of buying one. You may think that it’s just a coincidence, without realizing that you searched for the same for last few days and some software executing somewhere analyzed your pattern. Take the case of online stores, once you logged in, you can clearly understand that they customize their advertisements based on your needs. It makes sense, isn’t it?
So, apart from having a functioning product, the way you present it, letting the target audience know the product, convincing them to accept it is really important. In your personal life, dedicate a little time for your marketing as well, maintaining relationships, helping your colleagues, spending quality time with your family and friends, prove them that you are worth keeping friendship/relationship with. After all, it’s all about humans.