Tag Archives: anthropology

Human first, technology second

As an ex-developer, I love that techniques from the world of coding are seeping into the rest of the world, particularly the advertising and creative industries.

The concept of prototyping, creating something rapidly and often using makeshift materials and tools, allows us to test an idea cheaply, kill it if it fails, or scale it if it works.

The concept of ‘beta’ gives us permission to constantly build upon something, and it be okay if we make mistakes (providing we listen when we get it wrong).

The concept of ‘agile’ allows us to ‘test and learn’, whether it is using data, prototypes, or strategy, and get to something right through a series of steps, rather than planning every last detail in advance.

I’d like to see our industry go further, and embrace more concepts – distributed working, open source, forking, and most importantly user centric design.

User centric design is the process of understanding and building systems around how people function, not expecting people to function within a system. Human first, technology second.

This means examining and embracing the complex ecosystem of decisions, influences, behaviours and spaces that a person flows through, not just focussing on specific devices or channels.

Thinking about the human first, and the technology second demands that we explore a consumer’s touchpoints across the entire day, not just media, but every interaction and environment they may experience – transport, transaction, friends, workplaces, and more.

Thinking holistically about a person and their actions demands that we stop thinking about individual channels, but instead behaviours and narratives. What happens when someone goes to sleep? What happens when they wake up? What happens when they get lost? What happens when they arrive?

Thinking about these narratives allows you to solve a brief with any number of platforms, tools, channels, devices and interactions; it allows you to solve an actual challenge, rather than just answering how a predefined solution could be applied to a challenge.

We become anthropologists and discover a dozen potential new channels which are relevant to use. Perhaps some of your owned assets are already part of the story, and you¹re not using the m. Maybe there is a frustration that a customer frequently faces, and you can provide a solution, not just a message.

We can continue thinking about platform strategies and channels, but we need to start looking at the human first and the technology second, to understand all of the other opportunities around the behaviour in question, rather than just the channels we already know exist.

NB. I wrote this article for the IAB, and you can see the original posting at http://www.iabuk.net/blog/human-first-technology-second-user-centric-strategy