Things Real People Don’t Say About Advertising is a Tumblr-powered collection of cheesy stock photos poking fun at the world of advertising… and advertisers too-often disconnection with reality. It’s a breezy, easy site to scan, in much the same way as the Lolcats at I Can Has Cheezburger.
While it’s sure to make you smile, especially if you’ve been involved in advertising or even commercial web projects, TPDSAA has a very real point. Too often we miss the mark when trying to communicate. We spend too much time on minutiae, and make too many assumptions that “we” know what our audience wants because we think they are just like us.
We Are Not Our Audience
Whether “we” means an ad agency, design firm or an individual simply trying to stake their claim on the Internet, “we” are not the same as everyone else. In fact, everyone else is very different from us. We are too close to the subject to see it through the eyes of the average visitor.
Over and over I’ve heard anecdotes of people recruiting their mom as the ultimate usability tester. The assumption is, if mom gets it, everyone will. Honestly, this is not far from the truth. We need to interact. We need to be genuine. We need to ask — our visitors, employees, members or customers — what they really need and want. And then, we need to give it to them.
I’m not suggesting design by committee, or worse, design by community. There is still a need for vision and creativity. Our experience and knowledge can help create a user experience that delights. Doing so requires a combination of that know-how and a willingness to listen and adapt to genuinely serve the audience.
Check out TPDSAA. I guarantee you will find at least a few photos you’ll relate to. And if you’re in a position to influence user experience, think about how you can avoid ending up lampooned on TPDSAA.
Looking to improve user experience? Here’s two companies I recommend:
- Adaptive Path provides a range of consulting services to help companies improve their user experience, as well as coordinating a series of events and conferences for user experience professionals.
- Creative Good also provides consulting services for companies who want to improve the user experience, supplemented by councils — groups of peers sharing their knowledge and expertise. The annual GEL conference (Good Experience Live) draws a range of creatives in a format closer to TED than an typical conference.
Meantime, I’m thinking about how I can apply the humor of TPDSAA to the realm of knowledge management. Stay tuned…