High Class and Low Class Web Design

Saturday, March 10th @ 5:00 pm

Christopher Fahey   Partner,   Behavior
Liz Danzico   Director, experience strategy,   Daylife
Khoi Vinh   Design Dir,   The New York Times
Brant Louck   Creative Dir Publications,   World Wrestling Entertainment 

Sometimes there is a class system, but sometimes there are other factors that flatten things out.

Why Talk About Class?
Why are things designed a certain way? Are they doing it for a reason?
Myspace, Craig’s List, ebay

Class lets us talk about: education, economic power, cultural literacy, social standing

Defining Class Marketing:
demographics, socio economics status (SES), Hollingshead Index of Social Status
upper class
middle class
low class

Are designers in touch w/this difference in audience? Do you design for yourself or for your audience?
How can you get into the shoes of someon whose class experience is different from your own?

Much user research is done and user testing, but don’t normally think about class or talk about it in daily plain language

Spend time w/users in their home and have the narrow focus – only so much you can learn from that research, gut descisions need to be made based on what ppl do and say.

WWE magazine – focus on two – the general “buy anything w/WWE on it” and try to expand to extremem sport audience.

Work is focused on HOW the site it used and not necessarily the WHO using the site. Persona are created on users, but no longer doing that – now talking more about how they use the site. Stepping away from class.

Do you respect your audience? Are they your equals?

WWE: You need to find what is great about your product and what the audience likes. Find common ground in what you like and what they like to make it work. In the industry called fans/marks but perfectly accepted.

Design descisions made blindly
Know what covers work and what covers don’t from news stands
A/B testing is useful instead of class related descisions
Britany Spears content vs. financial content – remove celebrity content – needed as rounding out the real content

Lower class uses more of the AB type testing where higher class is more designer based descisions (steve jobs final say at apple)

New York Times uses a lot of stats – don’t do A/B testing, all testing done w/in retraints of brand. They don’t do crazy things just to encourage click-throughs or test something out. The brand is the bible.

If you have someone visionary, you don’t need your statistics. There is a value going w/your gut.

Do you move towards your audience or draw your audience closer to you?
Trade off between what ppl are familiar w/and where you want to bring them.
WWE: mission is to take a mag that is already there and not broken, and expand readership to more casual fans and not feel embarassed to have it. Moved from “low class” design and closer to higher class design (espn etc.).

“The public is more familiar w/bad design than good design. It is, in effect, conditioned to prefer ba design, because that is what it lives with. The new becomes threatening, the old reassuring.” -Paul Rand
is it really bad design or just a different style of design?

It’s a matter of awareness and exposure – education. How aware are we about certain things?

In everyone’s nature to determine what is the easiest to read design pleasing on the eyes – you must work w/in those parameters.
As long as the objects in that class are usable helpful it doesn’t matter – beautiful and ugly don’t matter. (???)

Class X – based on design culture (more becoming conscious of design)
Technology has given more people the tools to become designers. That lets us see more now because more people have those tools to get it out there.

Focus on what your needs/goals are and not who you are.

More fun to design for spin or WWE magazine?
WWE is more fun – like selling super heros