Watch your mouth.
︎by Pete Lacey, Head of Design
When inventing new things it’s important that you can communicate them simply so that everyone has some kind of idea of what you’re talking about.
Because people are naturally drawn to solutions, the name of your new thing will likely come from whatever initial concept you present.
Let’s say, for example, you’ve identified there is a problem with getting an overview in your product. Your first few concepts naturally lean towards a dashboard-based experience. Lots of little tiles, a couple of graphs, you know the drill. This seems like a reasonable solution to the problem.
However, when take your new thing out and about in the organisation, it quickly becomes apparent it’s inefficient to talk about it as “some kind of way to address the lack of overview certain personas have in our product, probably not this exact solution though, this is just a quick idea right now”.
Somebody says “Oh, like a dashboard?”
You say “Yeah, kinda”.
You add that you don’t really like the word ‘dashboard’.
They say they don’t either. We should change it later.
Your project is now called Pleo Dashboard, and it shall be forever.
To some degree that is fine. It enables smoother discussions with various other departments and different teams. You’ll even find yourself dropping the dashboard word a few times yourself – so you know the person you’re talking with has some frame of reference to the problem you’re trying to tackle. “We’ll change the name later” you add.
The Q4 roadmap is presented to the team, you see that little dashboard word in there again.
Someone from the commercial team asks if they can run your dashboard concept in front of a potential deal, it could just be the thing that closes it.
A designer asks where they can find your dashboard designs.
Now you’re putting your concept in-front of a customer. You blurt out the dashboard word as a thing of habit. The customer’s brain is now full on in dashboard land. You listen to their dashboard feedback, your own mind now confirmation-biased to the dashboard things they say, thinking how you could solve all their dashboard woes with your wonderful dashboard.
You now only see the world through dashboard tinted glasses.
You move onto another project, new team members come in. The only path forward is dashboard. It is all we ever have known, and all there ever could be. The answer is, unquestionably, dashboard.
Dashboard. Dashboard. Dashboard.
But… a glimpse of hope.
Research has shown that a full-on dashboard doesn’t bring much value. The concept everyone loved internally just doesn’t quite do it for the customers. You only perhaps need to adjust the hierarchy on the product’s start page a little bit – perhaps a few other small adjustments, include a little bit of new information, and this overview people have been craving is finally there.
The dashboard is dead.
A few months go by...
You overhear a customer call, the account manager explains “…and this is the dashboard…”.
You see a support ticket response “…just head to your dashboard…”.
You see a company tweet “Check our our new dashboard feature!”.
Long live the dashboard.
You should have changed the name earlier.