How can good design and user experience revolutionise the events industry?

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As part of our 2020 Events Disruptor Report, Product Designer Josh Richardson and Lead Brand Designer John Scott have explored how ‘good design’ is increasingly being acknowledged as a driver of competitive advantage in today’s fast-paced world. But what does ‘good design’ mean?

In modern tech companies, this largely means utilising Design Thinking principles to craft user-centred solutions. Teams put a focus on maximising consumer desirability, technological feasibility, and commercial viability. They also build things quickly. This becomes especially important when coupled with the fundamentals of consumer behaviour, which Brian May eloquently summarised in 1989: ‘I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now.’

Customers are impatient. Customers are restless. Thanks to Harry Selfridge’s 1909 quote, customers are also ‘always right’. They have high expectations and they know what good experiences feel like. They reward and reject products accordingly. Design a world-changing product and you become a billionaire. Mess it up and you become a Betamax. 

With so much at stake, companies that want to win focus on making their customers’ goals their top priority. What are our customers trying to do? Why are they trying to do that? How can we drive efficiencies? What pain can we relieve? What gain can we create? How do we monetise this new world? They start the process by playing 21 questions in their users’ world. They obsess over problems, not solutions. There’s a reason why we don’t spend our days riding around on Segways, wearing Google Glasses. They are solutions looking for a problem.

On that note, design thinking isn’t about asking the customer, ‘what do you want?’. Customers are experts in problems, not solutions. If Henry Ford were a product designer, he would ask, ‘why do our customers want faster horses?’ and discover that they actually want ‘free, reliable, painless teleportation’. He would learn that speed, comfort, safety and cost are the ruling factors in the transportation industry. In the absence of teleporters, cars just so happened to be the best technology to solve customer problems at the time. Even today, nobody wants a car, they just want the benefits of that technology. 

It is this user-centred mindset that has allowed recent hyper-growth start-ups to flourish. For example, challenger bank Revolut has less functionality than all high street banks and yet is the fastest growing bank in Europe. Ticketing app, the Trainline charges higher fees on its tickets than most competitors – and always has done – and yet floated on the LSE this year at a valuation of £2 billion. What was it about their design that allowed them to do so well, whilst looking like lesser products on the surface? The answer is probably in your pocket.

They both prioritised building straightforward interfaces that work great on mobile. That’s it. That’s their secret sauce. They used ‘mobile-first’ as a differentiator to create 9 figure companies, because they knew that’s what their customers needed for their day-to-day banking and ticketing tasks. In 2016, the world saw more people using mobile than desktop for the first time and they both swept in to take advantage of this before older companies could react.

Now, as HeadBox matures, we are looking to revolutionise the event tech industry by focusing on what our competitors aren’t doing: delivering a great user experience. We are taking an incredibly labour-intensive process that once required countless phone calls, endless email threads and hastily hacked spreadsheets and streamlining it for all our users. 

We are offering a tech-based solution not only for users booking events but also for our Host venues. We have spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours interviewing every type of user to gain feedback and discover their pain points, grouping the common issues and looking at how we can solve each of these through technology. Much in the way that Amazon, Monzo and Slack have put the user at the centre of everything they do we are looking to do the same, creating products that delight and experiences that surpass all alternatives.

We believe by creating brilliant user experiences with our design-focused approach we will have the competitive edge. This will allow us to achieve our mission statement to revolutionise the events industry through human-kind event tech in much the same way that many companies over the last decade have been.

Our 2020 Events Disruptor Report is a collection of articles that explore how and when the emerging trends in technology impact the events industry. To read the full report click here.

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