2011-02-08

The wow factor: Creative thinking and solving latent desires

We all have had that moment where we saw something and automatically generated a “Wow” in us. This can happen when that thing made us realize it solves a problem that we did not know that we had. The cool comes from doing what we did not realize we needed.

Asking a target audience or client how to improve something gives only “status quo plus 1” type responses that are a only single evolutionary step beyond what they have now. Doing those things is not going to knock anybodies’ socks off. The results will be good but hardly revolutionary because the improvements are all rather obvious.

One way of achieving “the wow” in design work is to solve for latent needs. Latent needs are needs that people did not realize that they had. An easy hack to discover latent needs is to imagine if the user or client had the improvements that they originally asked for then imagine how their desires would then change and then guess what they would ask for next.

This kind of “status quo plus one plus one” creative thinking takes an understanding of your client and audience but appears as genius if you can pull it off.

UPDATE: An explanation of the creative theory behind status quo+1+1 thinking.