Crisis of Confidence — Why People Think Your New Idea Is Scary and What To Do About It

For most Americans, every April brings a certain sense of dread as the tax filing deadline looms. There are few things more intimidating than a tax code that’s thousands of pages long. Luckily, the tax filing app, Turbotax, does a great job of replacing this fear with confidence by removing ambiguity, giving control, and providing education for it’s users. And it’s a good thing, too. Fudge some arithmetic, and you could be subject to an audit by the IRS and ultimately prosecuted for tax fraud. Yikes. Not only are the stakes high, but the rules of the game are obtuse to say the least. Practically no one using Turbotax understands the tax code, so Turbotax really has its work cut out for it when it tries to replace that overwhelming fear with confidence.

Turbotax takes this fear dynamic so seriously that it actually begins its tax filing tutorial with an emotional check-in, asking its users how they’re feeling before they get started. Just by acknowledging that the people using their software might be a little bit nervous, Turbotax is letting its users know that it’s there for them. Next, Turbotax very clearly suggests to its users the most common path to filling out tax returns, but it very clearly lets them know that they can go back to any step at any point, so they don’t need to worry about getting the answers absolutely perfect the first time. Each step along the way is clearly marked and its completion celebrated. Finally, Turbotax offers tax experts to help with any questions. An explanation about a confusing tax rule is just a tap away. They’ve truly created a system of education on demand.

While filing taxes is an extreme example, the truth is every new thing we design creates a crisis of confidence for our users. New things always come with a bit of fear. Your users might have some idea of what to expect, but you can’t really say for sure. As designers and innovators, we need to be aware of this initial fear and work to counteract it. Instead of trepidation, we need to instill in our users a feeling of confidence. This confidence will give them the will to move forward through the experience and is a key ingredient to make sure they love what you’ve created.

All the Feels — Designing for Emotion

The man needed to go to the store, so he drove to the store and got what he needed. 

Pretty boring story, right? But it is, in fact, a story. It has a hero. It has a beginning, middle, and end. It even has a challenge that the hero overcomes. But it’s awfully boring. So what’s the deal here? What’s missing? Just like with anything in life, stories can come in all sorts of varieties. Some are unbelievably compelling, and some, like the one above, leave a lot to be desired.

Great stories take us on an emotional journey. The not-so-exciting story of the man and his epic quest to get to the store is entirely devoid of any emotion. It’s dry as a bone. But it’s also simple. And simple is good, right? Shouldn’t all designs be as simple as possible? Isn’t it the simplicity that everyone loves about Apple products? Well… kind of. Simplicity is a crucial, but not sufficient. Great designs also have to evoke emotions. What if we were to tell you that the man in the story above was actually a father going to pick up a puppy for his daughter for her birthday, and he hadn’t seen her in six months? Your emotions would start kicking in a little more.

5 Psychological Secrets Every Innovator Should Know

Even in today’s digital age, the cookbook industry is still huge. Major publishing houses hire top-notch designers to work with their bestselling authors. And when you look at the visuals that these designers produce it’s absolutely stunning. Flipping through the books, my eyes and my mouth are always in heaven. So on the surface, it seems like cookbooks are a great example of good design. Big time designers and pretty pictures is a recipe for success right?

Well, if that’s truly the case – that they’re perfect examples of design – then how come every time I go to use one I always find myself frustrated? Even when the recipe is like 5 or 6 steps long I’m lost. What’s going on here? Well, for the longest time, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It wasn’t until I was looking over my notes from a book that I previously read that I began to understand.