User Centred Design and the Fender Telecaster

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A look at how the designer of the worlds most popular guitar employed a User Centred Design methodology to gain a competitive advantage over the market leader.

Transcript of User Centred Design and the Fender Telecaster

  • UCDUser Centred Design By Mathew Devey
  • Putting the user at the heart of the design process Combining user research and design methodologies to make informed decisions An iterative process that requires users to have input (directly and indirectly) early on and throughout the design process What is UCD?
  • Making informed decisions that reduce the business risks associated with high levels of assumption Leads to products users will actively want, use and recommend. Has been shown reduced development costs and time Benefits of UCD
  • Highly formal, drawn out research processes that blow project timelines out I want it to do this, I always think of it like... are phrases that should never be used in a UCD project. The user doesnt care what you want! Restricted to interfaces or technologies A new idea UCD Is Not
  • UCD Design Process Concept Use research to develop a concept Initial design, prototype evaluation and iteration An iteration that learns from usability testing will result in a product we know users will use. Research Finds out what the business and user's needs actually are Post-launch Users needs and behaviour change over time so we need to keep track of it 1 2 3, 4 & 5 7 Implementation Once the design has been validated this is when recoding may be required 6
  • UCD Case Study 6
  • The Fender Telecaster One of the most successful examples of industrial design Unchanged, yet still a market leader, 60 years later Iterated / evolved into the most popular guitar ever! A true David and Goliath battle
  • The Fender Telecaster Then (1952)
  • The Fender Telecaster Now
  • Designed in 1952 by Clarence Leonidas "Leo" Fender Leo Didnt play the guitar Owned a radio repair shop Studied accounting Wasnt cool!
  • Played By
  • Competing Against Gibson Guitar Corporation Experienced Instrument Manufacturers (since 1894) Established Market Leaders
  • The Fender Telecaster Leo got it right the first time Keith Richards
  • The UCD Advantage 14
  • The Design Process Problem statement Design a guitar that can be heard in busy / noisy venues Proposed solution A solid body (rather than traditional hollow body) guitar with electronic pickups
  • The Design Process Current state of the market Traditional hollow body Spanish style guitars
  • The Design Process A new idea? Yes and no Electronic pickups had recently been invented fed back at high volumes (on hollow body guitars) Solid body designs had briefly been considered (by a couple of manufacturers) but being such a strange concept (at the time) were quickly dismissed; based on the assumption consumers wouldnt like/want them
  • The Design Process Rickenbackers Frying Pan
  • The Design Process Les Pauls The Log
  • 1. Research Leo spoke to customers and discovered Most professional musician dont earn a lot of money! Many wanted a work horse instrument thats reliable, tough enough to survive touring and easy to maintain and repair Not the expensive, ornate, hand crafted instruments offered by Gibson
  • 1. Research Leo involved users in the design process He drew two lines on a piece of paper (representing the bridge and nut that all guitars must have) and asked musicians to sketch different designs.
  • 2. Concept Initial prototype
  • 2. Concept Very different from
  • 2. Concept Key Features Simple design thats easy/cheap to mass produce Band sawn body rather than hand carved One piece, replaceable, bolt on neck Easier to build, service and replace than a traditional glued on neck Easy to setup / adjust Can be done by the musicians themselves Indestructible. Built like a tank! Roadworthy
  • 3, 4, 5. Evaluate and Iterate Leo tested his prototype with users By inviting local hillbillies musicians over to play prototypes
  • 3, 4, 5. Evaluate and Iterate Then incorporated their feedback into his design
  • 6. Implementation Finally releasing his product into the market (once the necessary QA was conducted) And changing the sound of popular music forever!
  • 7. Post Launch Leo canvased feedback from his customers They told him The square edges of the guitar dug into their ribs and forearm (by the end of a long gig) They wanted a wider tonal palette They wanted more control over micro adjustments They wanted a whammy bar!
  • 7. Post Launch Leo incorporated this feedback and designed the most popular guitar ever! By designing ingenious solutions And copying the solutions others came up with* innovation and plagiarism collaboration * One musician cut contours into the body of his telecaster (to make it more comfortable). Leo incorporating these exact contours into this new guitar.
  • Subsequent iteration The Stratocaster The most popular guitar ever!
  • Designed by A non musician Who didnt have a lot in common with his customers!
  • Used by The worlds most successful musicians and me!
  • Conclusion 33
  • Lessons User input is important Although Leo conceived the initial idea The success of both the telecaster and Stratocaster was due to the involvement of real users at every step of the process. They essentially co-designed the instruments (so its no surprise they appealed to other musicians too)! Leos ability to canvas user feedback, facilitate (and listen) was just as important as his ability to ideate. Without speaking to users Leo would never have known there was a gap in the market for affordable work horse guitars
  • Lessons Assumptions are risky Although Gibson were the market leader They assumed their customers were only interested in what they currently bought. In reality many musicians wanted something different but there was no viable alternative They assumed what had previously made them successful would continue to do so They placed too much confidence in their collective experience and failed to engage their customers (to fully understand the nuances of their needs and expectations) They were too close to the problem!