1

using design thinking to

understand

audiences

check your mindset

When seeking new audiences, we tend to bring preconceived notions of what we think will attract them. Often these are based on assumptions, second-hand information and even general market research. We need to be very careful to check our assumptions at the door to make space for unexpected findings from this audience.

Tip:

As a team, create a list of what you do know, what you think you know, and what you’re not sure of regarding this audience in relation to your design challenge.

user research

Nobody knows your target audience better than your target audience. When conducting field research, it’s important to try and find them in environments relevant to your design challenge’s context. Are you hoping to gain an audience of gamers? Best spend some time in gaming cafes then.

Tip:

When interviewing a new audience, avoid leading questions that result in a yes or no answer, but rather use open-ended questions that reveal their deeper needs. Once you know their needs, you can define products catered tothem.

places and platforms

Knowing what your new audience is looking for is a must, but it needs to be delivered in a relevant and engaging way. When seeking new audiences, keep in mind that they may or may not be using platforms you’re currently utilizing, whether it’s a social app or a physical location and activity. Whatever new product or service offering you end up designing should keep these platforms and activities in mind as they may very well become your methods of engagement.

Tip:

When interviewing a new audience, make sure you not only discover what platforms and activities they’re engaging in, but what it is they enjoy about them. This helps your organization in maintaining best practices when designing for a new platform.

deriving insights

Collected research needs to be converted into actionable insights. It is key that team members understand how to translate raw findings into thematic insights that can spark solutions. As you comb through your research, keep an eye open for common, repeated themes that emerge.

Tip:

Write down each finding on its own note. Place them on a large blank wall and begin collating notes into themed groups. Remember, themes aren’t simply obvious things such as ‘people are bored on their morning commute’, but rather deeper human meanings that we intrinsically know are true but wouldn’t notice at first glance, such as ‘people want to use their commute time to educate themselves.’

what we found

As part of this program, we worked with one news publisher who was well established with audiences aged 35 years and older, but wanted a new audience between the 18-25 age range. While they were highly adept at market research, their findings had yet to reveal anything of value to this audience and as such, struggled to engage this younger audience in a relevant way.

 

By using design thinking research methods, they realized that this new audience had no interest in any form of “hard news” and therefore couldn’t be reached by simply repackaging existing content. By synthesizing research themes into insights, a desirable solution was finally reached and validated with this audience through rough prototypes.

key project members:

2

using design thinking to

create valuable

content

check your mindset

To best tailor content for our audiences, we first need to know their level of interest and depth of understanding on the topics we wish to present. It’s one thing to know that an audience is interested in a certain topic, but it’s even more important to know what angle they’re trying to understand the topic from and therefore, what needs we should serve. Keeping this in mind throughout the design thinking process is critical.

Tip:

Start by mapping out the different types of stakeholders related to your topic and see how they influence/impact each other. This will help give you a clearer picture of the ecosystem surrounding your topic and allow you to understand which pieces need to be presented in what way to your audience. For example, you might be covering an upcoming election but discover that your audience doesn’t know anything about how candidates interact with local councils - you can now tailor your content to educate these themes.

user research

As you research topics with your audience, remember to leave any assumptions behind. While you might have a specific opinion or depth of knowledge about a topic, that doesn’t mean your audience will be at the same stage as you. They may have differing opinions, less knowledge, less interest, etc. Keep an open mind as you delve into these topics with them.

Tip:

When interviewing your audience about topics, avoid leading questions as these will naturally come from your own biases. Rather, use open-ended questions to find out what your audience truly cares about, their views on it and their depth of knowledge on the issue.

places and platforms

How your audience consumes your content is of vital importance. Do they prefer short video formats as opposed to long reads? Or do they like the option for both? Do they look at comments first and read the content second? Do they want to interact with it or passively consume it? All these factors and more need to be taken into account when designing content for your audience. Remember, the user’s needs should dictate the platform and functionality. For example, if the need is educational then perhaps it needs more interactivity than a journalistic opinion piece might.

Tip:

Make platform and usage questions a part of your user research to understand how best to deliver audience value through your content.

deriving insights

Collected research needs to be converted into actionable insights. It is key that team members understand how to translate raw findings into thematic insights that can spark solutions. As you comb through your research, keep an eye open for common, repeated themes that emerge.

Tip:

Write down each finding on its own note. Place them on a large blank wall and begin collating notes into themed groups. Remember, themes aren’t simply obvious things such as ‘people are bored on their morning commute’, but rather deeper human meanings that we intrinsically know are true but wouldn’t notice at first glance, such as ‘people want to use their commute time to educate themselves.’

what we found

An APAC news publisher wanted to better educate their audience prior to the upcoming election. Their strong history of uncompromising political coverage gave them an advantage in this field, yet there were many assumptions that needed to be overcome.

Through field research, interviews, and insight synthesis, it became clear that a large swathe of the population struggled to find the kind of information needed to make informed voting decisions, thereby providing the team with a clear North Star for their content.

key project members:

3

using design thinking to

generate new

revenue streams

check your mindset

If advertising is your primary revenue stream, are you selling your company’s value or your audience’s value? Both result in different strategies, especially in digital media. If you’re selling on the back of your company’s value, you’ll have room to test branded content opportunities. If you’re selling your audience, you’ll be able to maximize the size and reach of your readership. Both will have different measurement metrics.

Tip:

Explore resources such as The Business Model Navigator to further your understanding of how best to monetize customer value. Beyond this, be sure to read Clayton Christensen’s ‘Jobs To Be Done’ to grow your knowledge of what customer value truly means.

user research

Having an understanding of the context your company fits within will greatly help in determining the right form of revenue model. A start-up will have different limitations and strategies to grow revenue than a large-scale organization. It’s therefore advisable to research how companies of varying scales determine the best path forward for revenue model design.

Tip:

Spend some time researching growth hacking activities - from customer marketing to data and digital tools.

measuring success

Having processes in place in order to measure your progress will be important as it not only allows you to track your own growth, but to capture audience behavior and data. Growth hacking tools will help you to define a growth hypothesis and track its success or iterate on its shortcomings.

Tip:

A simple hypothesis kit to use would be:

 

1. because we saw (data/feedback)

2. we expect that (change) will cause (impact)

3. we’ll measure this using (data metric). Source.

deriving insights

Beyond general success measurement, it’s important to use any data captured to understand the human drivers behind their behavior. Generating human insights from this data will lead to clearer ways of triggering purchase behavior and can help redefine revenue models as you move forward.

Tip:

As you would for any design thinking project, place your findings from your success measurement toolkit onto notes and place them on a wall. Group the patterns and themes into clusters to highlight human behavior that isn’t immediately obvious on the surface. These defined customer behaviors will guide you towards an appropriate revenue model.

what we found

A large, multinational news publisher in APAC wanted to breathe new life into their classifieds section, with the intention of capturing new audiences and furthering revenue. While their initial thought was to build a subscription model onto their existing product, the design thinking process revealed a lack of value for their current audience. As this news publisher discovered, applying a revenue model without first having a clear and tested value proposition is a cart-before-the-horse approach. Through user research, it became clear that the key value for the readership was a ‘sense of community’ and only by leveraging this, could a classifieds product have any meaning.

key project members:

4

using design thinking to

improve organizational

workflows

check your mindset

One of the biggest steps a company can take is to adopt an empathetic mindset towards itself. The first step sounds simple enough: each executive, manager and employee should understand their impact on the other. The challenges come in when ego, hierarchy and even broader regional culture create barriers to true empathy.

Tip:

While it won’t be effective or even well-received to simply ask an organization to become more empathetic, the good news is that through smaller empathy-based activities, a healthier culture and integration can begin to take shape.

user research

As you’ll be performing internal research, it’s important to set several parameters to make the most of the exercise. Many staff won’t want to share their true feelings about the company while others will wish to project their frustrations excessively. The parameters you set will help you to make sure these situations don’t become excessive and allow you to listen to your findings with a better perspective.

Tip:

Make sure each research participant is given privacy and anonymity. Be sensitive to what they share and be prepared that interviews of this nature can become emotional as many employees may have emotional investment in their organization.

places and platforms

Even though you’re designing within an organization, your solution’s platform, space and how it’s used requires just as much research and thought as any customer-facing solution. As with any design prototype, test and iterate early.

Tip:

Remember that it’s easier to leverage existing human behaviors rather than to try and create new ones. Your solution shouldn’t require people to go too far out of their way or radically change their regular behavior in order to interact with it.

deriving insights

Collected research needs to be converted into actionable insights. It is key that team members understand how to translate raw findings into thematic insights that can spark solutions. As you comb through your research, keep an eye open for common, repeated themes that emerge.

Tip:

Write down each finding on its own note. Place them on a large blank wall and begin organizing notes into themed groups. Remember, themes aren’t simply obvious meanings — like ‘employees aren’t happy at work’ — but rather deeper human meanings that we intrinsically know are true but wouldn’t notice at first glance, such as ‘employees are happier when they have a clear purpose and support.’

what we found

A large, successful and reputable news publisher in APAC was struggling with departments working in silos. The lack of integration meant that initiatives failed before they got off the ground and employee morale was less than ideal. By undertaking design thinking methods, they were able to define a set of guiding design principles from which their organization could work from. These principles lead to an internal platform solution that aimed to bring visibility of each department to the entire organization. In doing so, they could start to slowly nudge their organization towards a more holistic way of being - in which other initiatives defined during the design sprint would be included.

key project members:

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