Identity first design

octubre 18, 2017



Towards a personality model for digital products.

The personality is the heart of all human interaction, it is what defines each person in their individuality, differentiating it from the others and making each relationship unique and unequaled. What would happen if our products or services were imbued with personality? Do not we want to build unique and lasting relationships with our clients?

Personality is the natural interface of every human being. We know how to respond to other people based on the clues they give us, such as their tone of voice, their language, their appearance, their posture. We process all this information unconsciously and act accordingly. Personality is the framework through which we make jokes, choose our friends or find a partner.

Those tracks that we naturally recognize in others, we can also find them in a product such as an application or a website, and we also process them unconsciously. Color, typography, images, writing, interactions, sounds, all are signals where we detect that digital personality. When we do not find clear signals, or those signals are very similar to others or contradictory, we miss the great opportunity to influence the behavior of our users. To this type of products of null, or rather of multiple personalities, we call them schizophrenic products.

To build digital products that generate a relationship with our users we have to think of them as if they were people, with unique and strategically defined characteristics that as a whole form an identity beyond the functionalities. Does not the google email have the same functionality as the hotmail? Does not Uber do the same thing as Lyft? How do they differ then? With a different identity.

These are some benefits of expressing personality in our products:


  • The personality connects, attracts and strengthens lasting relationships with our clients.
  • Personality distinguishes us from our competitors, especially in saturated markets.
  • The personality drives an emotional response from our audience, which fosters the long-term memory of our brand.
  • The personality is passionate and connects with our users, who become the most powerful marketing tool.

Wait, is not this brand identity? Yes and no. Brand identity is the collective interpretation that our audience has of our business. It also seeks to identify human characteristics associated with the brand (Adidas is a young athletic and full of energy). It traditionally covers the creation of a logo accompanied by visual references and verbal messages. Today, the brand is the product itself (think of Uber, Instagram, Facebook, Airbnb, our home banking or the software we use to design), and this is where the traditional approach is insufficient, since it was intended for Unidirectional communications where interaction was minimal. All this is enhanced when we incorporate conversational interfaces such as chatbots or even virtual assistants such as Alexa, Siri or Cortana into our channels.

Every day there are user experience departments that make decisions about the product. Usually we start a new project doing an investigation with the users. We sit with people to try to discover their desires, their way of thinking and their needs, to satisfy them with our products or services. We conduct surveys, generate hypotheses, observe analytics, test, measure, retest. We make archetypes of our users, who in the world of UX are called “People”, we do workshops, card sorting, prototypes. All this answers very important questions about who they are, our users, and what their expectations are about us. But there is a key part when it comes to creating personality, and that is who we are. We are missing a part, a key and rarely explored leg, a pillar where we build the personality of our product and that brand identity does not cover. How do we transmit identity through interaction patterns, types of animations, error messages, scripts of behaviors of a chatbot, distribution of elements in space, typologies, content strategy, etc.?

This is where the user experience approach opens up opportunities and serves as a framework to design a complete experience, involving other disciplines such as Psychology, Marketing, Communication, Semiotics and Content Strategies, creating a framework for personality construction. There are successful companies that do it very well, others that do it intuitively, and a large majority that do not take it into account.

From 9 to 11 November we will be at the most important interaction event in Latin America, ISA2017 in Florianópolis , where we will deal with an identity construction model for the creation of digital products that reflects both the objectives of the brand and the expectations of the brand. the users. From Carl Jung to Dr. Elisabeth André, we will show how we have managed to expand the theoretical and referential framework of user experience design to analyze bidirectional relations of communication in the digital world.