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Intro to Emotional Design

July 30, 2019

Welcome to Mediacurrent’s Open Waters podcast. A podcast about open source solutions. I’m Mark Casias, surrounded by my wonderful co-hosts, Bob Kepford… and Mario Hernandez.

In this episode, we will be talking with the creative director here at Mediacurrent, Sheree Hill. With 15 years of award-winning agency experience, Sheree has been privileged to work with iconic brands including Harley-Davidson, AT&T, Kellogg’s Special K, Tupperware, Budweiser, The Home Depot, Toyota Scion, Listerine, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, Southeastern Conference Sports, NCAA and Sony Pictures to create branded entertainment, rich media, games and interactive motion marketing, and product sites. Our design team, has recently launched projects including Georgia Tech’s Workforce of the future and Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business.  

Welcome to the show Sheree...

Pro Project Pick

Open Source Design


Q: Tell us about yourself:  What is your role?

A: As Creative Director at Mediacurrent, I lead the design team in brand-led engagements, website,  design and user experiences by practicing empathy and behavioral science.  We practice design thinking use a component-based design process to create scalable web sites for higher education, non-profit and financial services verticals.

Q: Tell me a little bit about the component-based design process.

A: Component based design is unique in that the design elements are reusable and scalable rather than one-off designs. Our team is versed in building well-structured design systems, this means that we design on an atomic level, viewing each component and design element as a part of a larger whole. Often we base our designs on our basic install profile, which is a set of wireframes we have created that address standard content needs. Basic components, such as heroes, cards, accordions, left/right components are already wired out. We can use them as a base, which eliminates the need to duplicate prior efforts. It's transformed our process. 

Brands are intimate and have personalities. We create moodboards to set the tone of the digital brand extension. We perform discovery including UX and brand audits We ask questions. There is power in knowing which questions to ask. Our digital strategists partner with our UX designers to create iterative design. We rapidly prototype and map out MVP needs for components and lay out with matrix’s.

Q: What is unique about designing for higher ed?

A: If you’re on a marketing team for a university there are many unique challenges. There are multiple stakeholders (often more than the corporate clients we work with) with different goals and objectives. Design needs to appeal/solve problems for a larger stakeholder audience in higher ed because there are often agendas and priorities that are duplicative or competing. We solve this by doing a deep onsite discovery engagement where we get to know an institution’s unique set of needs. We have a team of developers, strategists and designers that work together at the onsite to have an understanding of what is needed, we practice agile methodology and partner with your team to co-create a scalable solution.

Agile methodology typically works well in a higher ed project because of the dynamics and evolving discussions on requirements between various stakeholders. When it comes to search technologies, universities have deep repositories of data that they need to get into their students hands, we worked with USC Libraries to create bento box search functionality.

Q: What are some development challenges that you see in implementing UI design from a development perspective for higher ed?

A: Often times if the Design process is not in line with development this can create problems.  If designs have not accounted for realistic content flow or placement on different device sizes, this can lead to poor performance, poor accessibility and poor user experience.  As you know our team of developers is brought into design discussions early to be able to identify potential problems.  Solving these early on is a win-win for everyone, including clients.

Q: What is your team studying right now?

  1.  Our design and strategy teams are leveling up in psychology and persuasion certifications
    1. We learn and grow together.
    2. Importance of cross pollination (strategy and design)
  2. Our weekly design team check in allows us to discuss how we can apply the theory we’re learning to our current projects, in content strategy, UX design and art direction.

Q: What is the importance of behavioral research in data driven design?

A: When we understand why and how people make decisions, it informs our UX strategy and art direction. Understanding human needs informs and desires informs our content strategy through empathy and persuasion.

So, if you’re a CMO at a university and wanting to focus on lead generation, it’s important to understand how to nudge visitors to sign up to visit your campus. You have to also keep in mind that not every visitor is a prospective student - some are faculty, staff, or donors. It’s critical to understand how each of these different personas interacts with a website. What’s motivating their action? When do they typically make decisions related to actions that impact a site’s KPIs? Understanding human biases and neuromarketing allows us to make a more compelling UX that will lead to conversions.

Thanks for joining us Sheree!

Check out the blog post reference in this podcast: Human Centered: Brand Intimacy in Emotional Design, and stay tuned for the next episode of Open Waters. 

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