Designing is knowing when to stop…designing

If only the baby had a third eye in the back of the head—that would really be something!

In the hyperventilating world of widgets and their producer companies’ celestial valuations, it’s easy to fall into the “if only…” trap by feeling compelled to incorporate the latest technology rather than focusing design on a clearly defined user desire. I’m reminded of EchoStar Founder and CEO, Charlie Ergen, ten years ago, saying the main reason people want DVRs is so they can pause the game or movie and go to the bathroom without missing anything. So make it as simple as possible for them to do that. Charlie got to be worth about $10 billion by keeping his company’s products and services focused on the basic needs of his customers not on cool technology.

This was our intent when Linkstorm and Coca-Cola launched CokeTag, a personal, customizable widget that lets people promote and share content with their friends and fans . Give people the ability to make a personal advertisement, then listen and learn. Coke wanted to make this kind of marketing tool, which it uses for its own advertising, available to anyone. OK, they also want you to drink more of their products.

As with the launch of any creative product— you sweat the details, hope for serendipity, send it out the door and wait for the reviews and ratings. The blogosphere reaction during this first week has been encouraging. FatMan Collective says it all, “Coke is also smart to create a widget that users should actually find useful, and not something that feels like advertising.” Yes, that was the entire point!! And from A Media Circus—“I like the fact that they saw consumer value as the most important component in the creation of this app, and understood that brand association would come as a result of this value.”

Stay tuned as we start adding those “if only…” features and please help keep us focused on what users really want.

- Scott

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