You know how much I like music. You also know how I like using parallels from other industries to supplement what I do. I came across a great article from BMI (that happen to be the Performing Rights Organization that I belong to) that discusses 7 things to look for in improving one’s lyrics. After all, a song has less than a few minutes to hook you and if the lyrics don’t work, the song doesn’t work. It dawned on me that focusing on these 7 facets can also improve your products/services.
Here are the seven tips and how they apply to product design:
- Is everything you’re writing related to the hook/message of the song? Is everything in the design related to the message/meaning of the product? What message or vibe do you want your product to convey? Are buttons, directions, colors, shapes, feel, smell all working together to convey the same message?
- Have you used details in your verses? Have you used details appropriately in the product? Architect/Designer Charles Eames said, “The details are not the details. They make the design.” Details call attention to the various centers of a product. They can work together or provide distraction.
- Have you already said it? Are there unnecessary redundancies in the product? Not only is excess information (excess detail) annoying it can be confusing and lead to errors in use.
- Have you said enough? Just as saying too much is a problem, not saying enough is equally bad. Designers can assume that a person using a product knows everything the designer knows about the product: the context of use, how it works, etc. These assumptions can then covertly get built into the design resulting in frustration and product misuse. As a designer ask yourself, “Does using this product require knowledge that only I have? Will the person using this say, ‘I didn’t know I had to do x for y to work!'” If the answers are “Yes” or “Maybe” then find a way to overtly communicate that knowledge.
- Is your chorus lyric the main message of your song and is it memorable? The chorus is the part of the song that most people remember and join in singing. It sticks in our heads. Is the main use of the product memorable – does it get stuck in your head? Does the product create a type of obsession? Do you want to go back for more?
- Do your words sound good sung? Does the product communicate naturally? Is the product communicating in ways that are congruent with the desired experience? Is there a unified brand experience? Does something seemed forced about the product interaction?
- Are the little words like “and,” “but” & “’cause” used properly, or can they be removed altogether? Every action leads to an action and/or reaction. Do I have to press this and hold that to make something work? If I swipe but don’t use four fingers will it cause something undesirable to happen? Does everything in a product get straight to the point? If it doesn’t, it should be by design, not by accident. Little words like “and” and “but” create connections that can lead to confusion and a lack of intelligibility. If they can be removed, remove them. If you can’t remove them, make sure that each “and” or “but” in the product design is important and essential.
There you have it. Next time you hear a song that you’re singing along with, think about what makes that song work. More importantly, think about ways to make your designs sing! :)