Why Understanding Business Models is Important to Ix Designers
24 Sep 2008 - 6:23am
5 years ago
Jared M. Spool
Interaction design is hard enough to do when the business model is
clear. When the designer knows exactly how making a better design will
increase the value of the company, (thereby increasing the chances
they'll get a raise if they do a good job,) it's still hard to know
what to do.
All one has to do is look to Apple to see how this works. When iTunes
6.0 came out in January of 2006, they introduced a feature called the
mini-store, which, for all practical purposes, bombed. (http://tinyurl.com/4snt6f
This past month, in iTunes 8, they reintroduced the same business
model, this time with a different interaction design called the
Genius. It looks like this new design of the old mini-store is going
to be a big contributor to Apple's next year of revenues. (How much?
Well, they are now selling more than 1 billion songs each year. The
Genius functionality could easily add another 20%-30% on top of that.)
Some model, different design, huge increase in revenues.
When the business model doesn't match the user experience or (as we've
been "discussing" in the insane-people's-death-match thread, aka
"Facebook Redesign") when nobody seems to understand what the business
model is, the designer can't know if they are helping or hurting the
company by creating a better experience for the user.
Creating a great experience can be an expensive investment. Unless the
designer can clearly show the value of that investment, they'll be
constantly fighting the forces of reducing costs to increase
profitability. It's always cheaper to produce crap, so if you don't
understand how quality factors into long term profitability, crap is
what will win.
Designers that can't talk to value in the business model also can't
explain why they themselves should be on the payroll.
This is why understanding the business model is essential to good
[Sorry if you feel this was an obvious missive, but, from other
conversations on this list, I felt it's something that needed to be
said out loud.]