We should stop trying to make our brand look cool, and start making our participants look cool

Andie Nordgren (photo: Magnus Nilsson)

Game developer Andie Nordgren suggests that we leave the stage when we who are developing for a user think we’re superior to the user. Andie blushes, and so do I.

I’m attending the conference The conference, an annual event in Malmö that has a reputation of being a little bit more cutting edge than your average conference around digital subjects. I should say that the the rumor is true.

A lot of smart things have been said this first day, but I would like to mention one specific speaker and one specific topic: Andie Nordgren talked about letting go of your brand and not being self-centered when creating “the thing” that you’re working with.

Andie is working with game development at the Icelandic company CCP (responsible for EVE and other online games), and has discovered that all this talk about user experience, user centered, user testing and personas are really not very present within the companies that develops software, games and other digital “things”. The company and the people at the company are in the driver’s seat, never the user.

The main task is to change your mindset. Naturally, you’re developing stuff for the user. But do you develop with the user in mind first? Is your brand more important than the user? Are your ego more important than the person using what you’ve created? Honestly.

Andie Nordgren suggest that we skip the “how will our users think about our brand” talk and start developing our “thing” (whether it be a product, a game, a company or an organization) foremost for the user. Or the participant, as Andie Nordgren prefers to call those people who are using what we are producing.

In game development, you have to have hundreds of participants testing your prototype, as that’s what it is all about; a lot of participants interacting with each other.

That trying out made Andie Nordgren think about who’s really in charge of the product. And essentially about how Andie looked upon users and user testing. It’s easy for an experienced developer or concept developer to rely on your experience, and an understanding of user behavior in general. But knowing a lot about some users doesn’t mean you know a lot about all or other users.

That is very important to realize. And even though our clients seldom have come to the state of reflecting on users at all, this is something we need to relate to.

Andie Nordgren’s suggestion is simple: Stop thinking about how your brand can look cool. Start thinking about how your participants can look cool – while using your “thing” – to themselves, to their friends, to the world.

That’s value.

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