You Pay Your Bills By Understanding Problems

I was recently chatting with a friend and colleague, Robert Williams, who runs things over at Folyo. We spoke about how vital framing something is when you are offering to solve a problem, and why a lack of framing means no one will want your product or even give a shit about what you’re doing. Without framing, problems are pretty much just complaints – answerless whining floating around in the void. However, by putting these issues into context and thinking about how you can make someone see the value you’re offering, you can show the end result and find how to present your solution correctly.

To make things people enjoy and rely on, you must first become a person or company that someone trusts. Trust allows you to be able to solve problems and to be able to make things people enjoy but to get there, you have to make mistakes, or sometimes engineer educational errors someone can experience. Then it’s just a case of waiting for the other shoe to drop and taking advantage of that “oh shit” moment to explain how you can help.

Let’s get back to my conversation with Rob. Our chat was rooted in how Pyrismic had done. Pyrismic is a product that I launched in April, connecting exciting companies with world-class UI and UX designers in less than 24 hours. Rob wanted to talk about the leads it generated and what I would change in future. My response was that I would alter the framing; change significantly how I had presented the value offering and the questions asked.

The biggest problem we found with Pyrismic wasn’t getting the interest; we had over 50 leads in a few hours at the summit of Product Hunt, it was understanding the expectations and also a lack of comprehension on the value of design. We found that many didn’t know about what experience and interface design are genuinely worth. There was a surprising amount of “Yo bro, I’m looking for a full brand, quick 5-page website and an iPhone app. I think £500 seems fair.”

Fuck that.

Despite the strong emotional reaction I had to hear such a low budget, it was actually my problem, rather than the people who had reached out. While many would say, this is a case of miseducation on the clients’ side (and that may well be true), in most circumstances I’ve found that it’s just a case of misunderstanding. Just as this person doesn’t understand the value of design, they’ve also likely never been hurt by bad design.

How you value something comes from your experience. If you’ve never understood how a thing provides value (or takes it away), likely, you won’t give a shit. It’s not until something happens that provides context you’re able to form a real opinion. Be it a mistake you made, an article you read, or something your user says. Until you have a frame of reference, problems can mean little. However, you can only live in a world of ignorance so long. You’ve got to work out how to gain understanding or educate how you’re helping better.

Understanding can’t happen in some cases until a problem is seen and contextualised. When you see how it affects the person you’re helping, or provide the education, it’s easier to communicate, frame and present how you help. Make sure that you always plan out what’s most important to whom you are helping. Keep shit in context to the problem you’re solving, clearly and understandably. If someone has to overthink to get what’s happening, they’ll give up and leave. Make it easy, frame things in a way people understand and don’t join the “closed tab / uninstalled app graveyard” so many end up in. Instead, build the trust you need to explain how you can help, then make it easy to get your solution.

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