When designing your firm’s website or marketing materials, it can be overwhelming to want to ‘get it right’.
Oftentimes, we forget that design has many iterations, and that the first draft of anything we create is rarely the final version.
So, when it comes to your service design, are you designing assets with your clients in mind? Are you studying and taking into account how your potential clients are searching for and finding you?
This week on the show, I spoke with Sérgio Taveres, who has a PhD in Culture and Technology, and works at the Helsinki studio of lead design agency Frog. He approaches strategy and foresight with design techniques.
We talk about:
- The difference between art and design
- How the design process works and why it’s meant to be ever-changing
- Why design should be about the potential client and not about you as the firm owner
- How to design your marketing around your client or potential client
- The key role that empathy plays in client relationships and marketing design
Mentioned in This Episode
Hi, I’m Sergio Tavarez. Um, I’m a lead designer from Helsinki, and I’m here to talk about service design and user centricity. Sergio, thank you for being here. This is going to be a great conversation. Endlessly loved talking about design in general. That’s the core of where I started my professional careers in design.
And then I kind of took off into marketing and things like that, but, uh, there’s nothing more enjoying enjoyable for me to talk about than design. And how is. Number one [00:01:00] how it’s different from art and then how it has its place in business. And just all of those great, uh, interesting things to talk about in terms of design.
And so I know you have a fantastic and really interesting background in design and user centric. Thinking. And so today our big question is how can lawyers be used use service designed to be client-centric. So let’s start today. Maybe you can explain a little bit about your background, but also what, first of all, what is service design?
Yes, that’s a great way to start. I think, um, even in our business, sometimes there is a little bit of confusion to which, what design. Um, there are some more expressive forms of design, for example, graphic design or editorial design, but design is also a way to, to get to a goal, an [00:02:00] end goal. Uh, and that is the principle that we use mostly to business, for example, service design or business design.
So you have a goal you want to. This goal is to supply or fulfill a certain need from your end customer and design is a process that will take you to. I love that definition because I’ve had a lot of clients and just in my career approach design as this art form. And then they feel like they’re dealing with artists and they don’t want to get into in the way of my creative process.
And so I usually take a step back and say, um, I do believe there are some designers who approach it that way and that’s. Correct to begin with. And that let’s start with the idea that design can fail and design can not achieve this goal. And art can not fail. You know, art is, is just a pure expression and there’s [00:03:00] this big difference between art and design.
And so I usually talk to my clients about that separation. Then all of a sudden I feel them relax a little bit and say, okay, I can understand that. So, so let’s talk about how, how you go about first of all, defining how, how you are going to achieve those goals through design. Yes, that is, that is like a frequent, uh, uh, question as well, because.
Designers sometimes are, uh, quite opinionated and, and they are also, um, the aesthetic sense is also part of our way of communicating. Even if we are, uh, own a more consultancy level or, uh, approach, let’s say, um, you have communications design and, and you have graphic design and you have, uh, the whole experience design.
Everything is merged together. And that’s often playing as a strip playing as a strength to, uh, design [00:04:00] activity. For example, if you take consultants like management consultants, the slides are crammed with information. They try to tell everything all at once, and that is kind of understood by their audience, but it’s not an easy sale, uh, in design tries to make this whole process easier, more simple, more understanding.
So as we have these goals, it’s actually often that we fail and we have them to try again. And it’s also the principle that our fail fast. It’s very embedded in design activity because it’s less costly. So you try something, you improve your test and you keep going. There is no ant product there’s just versions of, of, uh, your product or service.
Yeah. And I liked the idea of fail fast because it allows for failure as a part of the process, not the end, and that that’s like a [00:05:00] death of the project it’s that this is part of the process and we will fail at this point and then we will iterate again and we will have a new version and I find. Uh, with our, my clients.
A lot of times they get version one of a design, uh, or, you know, some part of the, the, the content and they are comparing version one to someone else’s final product. And they have this moment of concern and panic. That’s where they start to lose confidence in the project itself. That version one, we’re at our starting point and we recognize we on the agency side, recognize that version one is not a final product and here’s where we’re going to start.
And we are going to take variations and iterate from there. Um, but the client hasn’t necessarily been through that process before. And, uh, how do you address that with a client [00:06:00] who doesn’t necessarily understand that this is a process and failure is okay and it’s not even, maybe failure’s not even the right word, but this is version one.
And the things that aren’t working here are our Mo places to learn and make better. I mean, how do you typically address that? Yes, that is, um, I was seeing, um, uh, your, your work and I was fascinated by it because, um, my both parents were lawyers and yeah, and I think it resonates with your audience. And I figured that even from my own portfolio, even from the clients, I work with that, your communication presence online.
Is a lot about taking the time to find your own voice, your own style. Um, it doesn’t depend so much on you. That’s kind of the beat news for, for many people that are, purchasing, this kind of project, because yes, you [00:07:00] may have a dialogue with your designer to understand the phones, the type faces, the colors, the vibe, the whole mood of the project and the.
But easy only after you out there having the feedback from the users that you will understand, actually, people find this useful, and that is a process you simply cannot know from the. Right. And so, uh, how do you get through that idea that it is meant to be client-centric? I, I often will have clients that this is, that in itself is a novel idea.
The idea that they should be positioning their overall message and approach. In terms of their client, instead of talking directly about the business and the firm and themselves and where they went to law school and all of those, uh, more, you know, first person [00:08:00] kind of narratives. How do you get through to, and explain that to them?
Why, why, why should it be about the client? Yes. Well, that is super exciting because I can really envision the process that, uh, we all go through with clients with. They have this idea, they are passionate about it. They want to finally, it’s also part of like a Rite of passage that you finally have, you know, um, my godmother, which happens to be a lawyer, as well said when I have my website, I want to have the black and white picture and the pearls.
So it’s nothing, I couldn’t rush her to have her own. She needed to. Understand how she wanted to have, uh, herself portrayed. So that’s very personal, but what comes to play as well is that, um, in the current landscape for communication, you need to start understanding where you’re going to [00:09:00] incept your potential customer.
So what are they going to be doing online when they find your website? And how fast do you need to tell them your story before they go to the other Google result? So what we do, uh, is to have a very actually tactical process of understanding the needs of the person you’re designing to, for example, take some time to learn their content.
Not only what you’re offering, but how they are thinking about it. It’s much different. Uh, if you use legalese to create an article or, and then if you title it, um, what do I do when someone steals my documents or something like that? My identity or something like that? I think that’s important because, uh, even as consumers and, and [00:10:00] sometimes that’s the, the, the point where people can have an understanding is, you know, as a consumer, we are looking on websites for whatever, whatever service or product we’re looking for.
And we want it to speak to us. We don’t necessarily want to land on, you know, if we’re looking even for a pair of shoes, I don’t want to land on the shoes and necessarily think of. When the shoe company was founded and, you know, w what kind of, you know, I, I probably do want to know what kind of materials were made in that shoe, but probably not first, first, I want to know, does this shoe meet the need of, you know, whatever it is I’m looking for, if I’m looking for a running shoe or whatever, is this gonna work for my feet?
And then maybe, yeah. Tell me a little bit more about what it’s made out of and about the company, but not first. So. Uh, oftentimes I think we need to take a step back and think, okay, how do I go through my own experience as a consumer looking for things that I need, [00:11:00] and then we need to apply that. Um, for some reason, a lot of lawyers in the legal industry feel like.
That is a totally different kind of a world, but it’s still human beings. Like human beings still think and act the same way, even though the legal industry can be so different than, you know, a lot of other industries. So tell me, uh, I know that in your background, you’ve got, uh, you talk a lot about the balance between inspiration and productivity and then also being human.
So how do you balance those things out when you’re having these conversations? Yes, I think you phrased it really well. That you’re all,
the way that we are all consumers. Right? So, uh, I think we, we rarely pay attention to our purchase processes and our consumption processes because. [00:12:00] Sometimes if, uh, in, in some exercises we have asked clients to emulate how they are making a purchase and they create this very linear and perfect path to a, uh, a purchase.
And actually, no, you click a Google ad several times. You see the same ad several times in different social media. And that’s why it’s very difficult to establish the attribution of which was the point that you made your decision. Um, it’s of course, important to check a few boxes, like on the credibility, the kind of cases that, that you have handled before your expertise in all these things that, you know, I’m much better.
I don’t, I don’t know exactly how, how those go, but it’s very important that you are able to create the course, tailor the content to the moment and mindset that, that you are. Uh, when you arrive to the site, you will also create cold. Uh, and design content [00:13:00] for the person that is actually returning there for a second time, that they want to know maybe about the history of the company, like you said, in your example of the shoes.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. That they’re at these different, I think that’s another thing. People don’t consider that there are people and there’s different phases of that decision. And depending on your practice area, I work with some people who do like DUI law. And they are working with people who are, you know, getting out of jail and they’re urgently looking for a lawyer probably on their phone.
And that is a totally different kind of decision than someone who doesn’t have a super urgent need. And there may be thinking about putting together a will. And they’ve been thinking about it for maybe a couple years and they’ve been reading some articles and then they’ve maybe come to your website and then they kind of meander through that path of the decision and they come back and they’re continuing to [00:14:00] need those reminders.
And, uh, just that encouragement along the way of that decision. So it really does depend as much as we all love to say that in the world of marketing and design, like, it really depends on. Who those clients are and what your practice area is for how that decision path looks, you know, depending on what, what their experiences.
I feel like if you’re not considering your clients and where they’re at in that moment, uh, you’re, you’re missing out completely. You are going to end up with a website that looks or any kind of online presence. That’s that looks very generic and isn’t addressing the questions that people are asking, and it’s just, it’s not really going to.
At the end of the day, it’s, it’s going to be those websites that a lot of people come to me with and say, you know, I don’t know why I’ve had this website. It’s been up there for five or six years and it’s not doing anything. And they think that’s just normal. That, that it should be that way. [00:15:00] And that’s how other lawyers websites are.
Um, anyway, th th I usually start by saying that’s not normal. It should be doing something. It should be, it should be helping your business. So, um, awesome. Well, what else, what else can lawyers do in terms of service design? So, you know, I think a lot of times we think of, uh, when we talk about just the utility of, of apple products, everybody’s always thinking about apple and Steve jobs and how they’re designed.
Is done in a way that’s very handy, but service design is, is harder. I think for people to get in their heads about how they, um, design when their business is doesn’t have a product. So how, how can lawyers think of that in, in terms of their law firm? Um, you definitely don’t need a, uh, concrete product in order to be very user centered.
Because, uh, the tangible [00:16:00] assets are, are your communication assets. And I was think that I would think that the great advantage that a lawyer has, uh, over the type of businesses that, um, sometimes we we deal with is that they have direct content with their, uh, contact with their. Yeah. It’s so often that management, uh, gets away from their end clients.
They never see them if you’re working a B corporation or, or even like on a retail chain, uh, it’s easier to lose contact and, and lawyers can do, uh, something that it would sound. I think that’s a very practical, uh, advice. It would some that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t make a difference, but if in every encounter, The lawyer starts to understand, the need, uh, that triggered, your, pursuit to what made you arrive here?
Because [00:17:00] then we start a process that we call empathizing, and that is. much of a part of a lawyers work, which is to empathize personally. So it’s another advantage that, that I think the profession will have, you empathize so that you understand the basis of those needs the terms of those needs, how people phrase it in their minds, and also things like how people feel about themselves in a certain moment.
So for example, even if a person. is facing, the possibility of going to jail, that is such a fragile moment for someone it’s not just the service of a lawyer. If you can make explicit that you were a person, they can trust, you’re a person that can take care of them and you can infuse your communication with that feeling.
And on top of that, you make it easy for the person that. Be retained with you. You, what is your email? What is your phone number? Let’s talk, let’s [00:18:00] connect on WhatsApp. All these kinds of things start to create a very powerful, um, uh, structure that starts working to fulfill the, the exact need that person has in that exact time.
I think that’s great. So. Reiterate that just because I feel like it’s really valuable in terms of what a service design, how it translates to a law firm. So you were saying to start out with empathy and understanding that problem, and then convert that into a way that shows that client, that you really understand, and you’re meeting them at that moment.
And then also bring that through your process so that you’re building ease into your system so that they. Meet, you can meet their need in a simple way. And that can also communicate that you really understand what they need at that moment. And that can be very different from one practice area to the next as [00:19:00] well.
If you are talking to someone who is coming out of jail and they’re on their mobile device, and you’re building that into your website. You’re starting with the mobile design and you are putting a very simple, quick and easy contact form there, uh, on a mobile device that speaking to that, but we often will work with estate planning attorneys who are working with elder clients that is not going to be where those elder clients are coming in.
They are more likely going to want. An in-person meeting. They are probably not going to be contacting them on their mobile device. It’s going to be something. If they look at their website is probably going to be on a desktop and they are going to be having a completely different kind of interaction with the firm.
So understanding where they’re at at that moment. Building that, that ease of the system into that, that communicates to them that you really understand it and you’ve been through it and you’re the right person for them to [00:20:00] work with. Um, I feel like that’s so valuable. Yes, absolutely. Um, one, one other process that we have, uh, in the design user centric design processes is to, I like to first look at the database of the customer to.
Who are your customers? What is their profile, let’s say on, on your terms, even, uh, the ones that, um, require more time from you are the ones who are any, any kind of pattern that we can see is helpful. And then we can show the personas that help us to establish how to design the, the, the website, for example.
So you said like, um, like an elderly person, um, you can have. A lot of things that we’ll be able to guide them through your service. And even, uh, before your journey in the web, on the website, you can have, um, other [00:21:00] communications that are targeting, for example, uh, people with elderly parents, so that you start to, and that’s understanding the client holistically because you have seen them, you know, They are always accompanied by someone for example, or that they go to you through a phone call and then you start facilitating.
That’s why maybe ties to the beginning of our conversation, that there is no way of knowing all these things from Virgin. Exactly exactly. And you need to go through those steps to make sure. Uh, and then oftentimes you go through the steps, you launch a design or a project, and then you continue to learn how it’s being used so that you can refine it and Polish it and make it better as it’s being used as well.
So, you know, even before you launch to think that you might know six months down the. It’s probably not very likely. So Sergio tell me what you’re reading and [00:22:00] what book you have to recommend. Yeah. Um, I, since my second kid was born, uh, they are, uh, six years old and two years old and they’re actually liking in top-notch behavior today, hovering in the background.
That’s amazing. Um, I have been listening to a lot of audio books. Um, yeah, it became kind of a habit for me. Um, I have read a couple of books lately that I would, I didn’t like them so much. Uh, so we’re not going to recommend, recommend those specifics, but, um, I would think that the latest, uh, Steven Pinker book was good, uh, rational.
I think it’s, yeah, it’s, it’s a little bit like the essentials. Uh, but I think it’s important because I believe the, the book was set out to, [00:23:00] um, help us all to, with this process where people are making decision and forming opinions without any basis on, on rationality. And this is something we kind of desperate.
You need to, uh, get back to the status quo. Yeah, definitely. That sounds fantastic. I love the, the process of how we make decisions and how we, we don’t even recognize how much of our own human, uh, you know, our, our human faults that we’re bringing in to that decision making process. And, and we are really impacted.
It’s not rational often. Oftentimes we’re kind of, you know, making very emotional decisions. well, Sergio to verus is the lead designer at frog Helsinki, by the way. Thank you so much for joining us from Helsinki. This has been a great, you know, span across time zones, uh, and frog Helsinki is a global consultancy design and tech group.
Thank you again so much for being here today. I really appreciate your time. [00:24:00] This was a fantastic conversation. I love talking about this stuff.