Designed to Engage

Molly Miller, chief content officer

People tend to think of design as only applying to products. We look at wireframes and think about how a product will look and how customers will interact with it, but design is even bigger than that. It is how our customers and readers engage with our company from the time they get a demo of a product or a marketing solution to the time they receive a proposal to the time they pay us—and way beyond. Every interaction with us should be thoughtfully designed.

The smartest design thinker I ever worked with could connect every customer-focused solution in the company and create the optimal workflow based on what the primary customer personas were trying to achieve—whether buyer or user. He would create a visual map that every executive could look at and understand where their products and businesses fit in to the whole. That map unified functions, almost single-handedly broke down silos.

Included in the design thinking discipline is rapid prototyping. You watch what customers are trying to do and identify roadblocks, then create a prototype of a potential solution, continuing to iterate with users. The design-thinking philosophy behind rapid prototyping is that it’s more important to try and fail over and over again inexpensively on the road to designing the best experience. Design thinkers are comfortable creating a few slides—a paper prototype—to show a user a potential solution and then use that to get insight on how the idea solves—or doesn’t solve—a customer problem.

One of the natural outgrowths of design thinking is to think about customers—readers or marketers or event sponsors—as more than buyers or users of your product. For us at ALM, they are experiencing our products as part of a much larger workflow that includes what they do before they read the morning news alert, what they do with an article, what they do upon leaving our site, what they want to learn at an event, what trend are they trying to get in front of, what information they need in depth, what updates they seek as summaries, and so much more. Included in our concern for what they are doing is what they are feeling—what are their ambitions, what makes them taste success, when do they know they have arrived, what do they see a long journey ahead.

Design thinking is not new but applying it more holistically—to legacy businesses—is a newer approach to transformation. ALM is transforming every day—and we are determined to design a better experience for our customers and our employees.

Next time—let’s talk about employees and their role in company transformation….

Molly Miller

Chief Content Officer, ALM, Molly is responsible for leading the integrated editorial organization to develop synergies between industries, identify new monetization opportunities and engage critical audiences. Since joining ALM in 2012, Molly has held several leadership positions, including Publisher of The Recorder and, Chief Content & Product Officer and Chief Marketing Officer. Previously, she held marketing, editorial market planning and product champion roles at Lexis Nexis after practicing law in Cincinnati and reporting for the Cincinnati Enquirer.