Are you a designer who checks Twitter incessantly (or at least occasionally) and also wants daily insights into the thoughts and desires of the people who use the products and services you design for? Then perhaps you should start following your users on Twitter.
As a still relatively new Nokia designer, and having little experience with Nokia products and services previously, that’s exactly what I’ve started doing. I found, Mark Guim, a 25-year-old, self-described Nokia fanboy who currently resides in New York as he pursues a second bachelor’s in nursing. He has a Twitter feed and also is the editor of The Nokia Blog. I started following him on Twitter about a month ago, and have really been tickled by how much I’m learning about his feelings about Nokia’s products, from technical features to experience.
Seeking out your users online isn’t a new idea, even on Twitter. Increasingly, marketing folks from the products and services I use (and likely complain about: hi Comcast!) have started following their customers on Twitter, which is great I’m sure for spotting trends, damage control, and promotions. But if Comcast follows me, they get mostly nothing about how I feel about Comcast services (though it might be good if they paid attention to all the user-centered design stuff).
Conversely, Mark broadcasts his feelings and day-in-the-life interactions with the Nokia products he uses in a way that most designers only dream of when putting together journals and other reporting paraphrenia for design research. It also feels a lot like another design research activity: shadowing. Not only do I get Mark’s thoughts, but also his interactions with other Nokia users who interact with him.
Could Twitter or blog shadowing become a new design method? I’m curious if other designers are using Twitter or other services as a means to gain user insights by following specific people’s online publishing and behavior. And while I haven’t done it, I wonder what it would be like to start mapping the insights and really using them in future projects.