One Direction


A distracting image (DigitalCirce)
Kim watches The Verge videos for the tech news. Tony watches them for the hairstyles. Understanding the direction of involvement can give insight into why your proposition is succeeding or failing.

Direction: the focus or target of involvement.

For example, a user’s involvement in an RSS newsreader, such as Flipboard, or Feedly, may be directed toward:
If customers say they love your app, but no one uses it, you may have misdirected your design efforts. An engaging user interface should not distract from the core value of the proposition. Nor will a beautiful design will not compensate for an irrelevant proposition; an approach known in the trade as lipstick on a pig. Your job as a designer is to help your customer get the most value out of the proposition. Sometimes, to get the most value out of your pig, you need to be a butcher, not a makeup artist*.
Flipboard's beautiful user experience
The concept of direction of involvement is useful to help understand the user experience, and therefore where to focus your design efforts. Often, as was the case for the designers of Google Chrome, the best
design decision is not be the object of involvement:
"We want the browser to feel like a natural extension of your will. It should feel fluid and delightful. It's about getting you to the information you need, not about driving a piece of software." (Chromium Project Core Principles)
A beautiful user experience may be engaging in itself; but the beauty should line up with the core proposition, not distract from it. For example, beautiful user experience is the core appeal of Flipboard, but content is still at the center of the experience. Any design solution that takes the direction of attention away from the content of the RSS feeds would undermine the proposition, rather than enhance it.

Bottom line

  • Design and proposition are a unity. They must not go in different directions.
  • The concept of direction of involvement gives insight into user experience, and is useful to set design priorities.
  • Understand the direction of your user’s involvement, and use your design to keep it focussed on your core proposition.
This is the final post in a series on Design for Customer Engagement. I'm planning a new series on the amazing similarities between Marketeers and the Sex Workers. Stay tuned!

Did I miss the point? Take the conversation in a new direction: Leave a comment below. Please engage.

If your interests extend to theory and philosophy, please check out my other blog.

* No pigs were inappropriately attended to in the making of this article.


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