Nest Smiling

How to humanize your technology

/ Dec 16th, 2014

By Massimo Zefferino, Designer+

Nest Smiling

We are human beings. Our first response to anything is emotional, not intellectual, not functional, emotional. No matter what personality type you are, or your upbringing, race, culture, education, we are all wired to react emotionally.

The curse of knowledge however, often prohibits companies from disconnecting themselves from the knowledge they possess, unable to think outside of the hard data. Although these are the people who build the technology, they struggle on how to create a connection between their products and their consumers.

Too often, even though the products have amazing possibilities, they are not intuitive for consumers. Consumers don’t care about the science behind a product; they care about how that product changes their lives. Lets face it, data is not sexy. But what you can do with it is.

Tech leaders need to remember that human advancement is both in the mind and in the heart. While the technology is critical, it’s the users experience, their emotional connection, with it that will ultimately make it successful. To achieve real success with any technology, you need to master the human connection, be empathetic to the user, and understand the connection you want your product to create. We need to humanize the technology, give it life, give it a purpose in order to connect it with the people using it.


1. Start with the end in mind.

Developing new technology is not a simple process. While it’s essential to work out the technology required, it’s equally important to remember the end goal. Too many developers think their goal is to create a new technology, but this is only half true. The goal is to create a technology that people will eagerly incorporate into their daily lives. Your customer does not care about the technology. They care about what the product can do and how it can change their lives for the better.


2. People buy from people.

For those who are invested in the technology industry, the ins and outs of design are exhilarating. The truth is, however, that outside of the industry, most people have little interest in the design of technology. This is why it is important to recognize that consumers are people, not prospects. If you start to think of them as people, this empathy will reveal insights into what consumers need and want. This insight can inform the design process and boost engagement.


3. Simplicity drives engagement.

While you may be fascinated by the ever-increasing complexities of technology, the average consumer is not, and is easily turned off by details they cannot fully grasp. Therefore, when trying to market your technology, try to communicate it’s benefits in the simplest possible way. Technology is infinitely complex, but our attention is increasingly finite. To bridge this inherent gap, focus on the most palpable way the technology will affect the consumer’s life, and then build your development and marketing approach from there.


4. Omit needless words & explanations.

We’ve all met overly wordy people who use complicated words to describe simple solutions. While for some this may be due to ‘the curse of knowledge’, however more often than not it’s due to arrogance. It’s important to be able to explain what your product or service can do, but it needs to be done in a simple, straight forward manner. Again - the attention span of customers is increasingly finite. Messaging needs to be impactful and to the point.


5. Give your product a personality.

While you want to reach as many people as possible, it is not possible to be all things to all people. Therefore, pick the group of people that is most likely to connect to your product, and gear your messaging, your user experience and your technology to them. If your customers are duty-oriented, then never skimp on the details. If your customer is an inspirer, keep the details light and focus on impact instead. Regularly compare your technology to the personality of your consumers, and then seek to fulfill their needs accordingly.


6. Remember the human touch.

Technology, no matter how advanced, is inanimate. To combat this, you should give your technology a humanizing quality. In essence, you want to develop your technology with a personality that will resonate with consumers. People do this all the time on their own when they name their cars. Brands like Apple excel at this, which is why Apple has so many loyal customers. If you can create this type of human touch, you will see marked improvement in your customer relationships.


With all that technology has to offer us as a society, we need to adapt to the people who are using it. There can be a critical disconnect of communication between the technology we create and the people we create it for. It is our responsibility to bridge this gap. We cannot expect people to adapt to technology. Instead, we need to humanize the technology to connect with people.