During 2020 and since the coronavirus pandemic, a lot has changed. Isolation and confinement made gathering with our friends and relatives impossible, so keeping our relationships alive became an urgent need. As a society, we now need to adapt to maintain the “social” sphere active, and virtuality is playing a key role in this adaptation. It has shown to be not just a temporary substitute, but a whole new permanent space where we can reach each other and share experiences.
Even in confinement, our lives have to continue, our work, our education… Everything we had previously done outdoors, we have now started doing it indoors. Through the internet, distances are not a problem, and we were able to achieve continuity in our lives thanks to our cellphones and computers. Still, we are adapting because we had to turn into heavier users. Our time among apps and social networks is now longer, and that’s because new needs have emerged.
A new normality
We went through several changes. At some point, we got used to it, and a sense of normality put in place what at first felt different to us. But what is it exactly that has changed so much?
Yes, the quarantine changed our social life in the public domain, but it was also at home where we’ve experienced changes. Lockdowns blurred the limits between the public and the private sphere, and this gave rise to some new dynamics:
- The time required for housework.
- The distribution of childcare and home-office time.
- The conditions and implications of a new way of educating.
- Remote working methodologies.
- The need for privacy.
With all this new scenery comes discomfort -emotional and psychological needs that remain unsatisfied-, and adjustments become necessary. That is where we have to focus when it comes to product design.
It’s not just adaption. It’s innovation
So, the pandemic did harm the global economy, but, as it is well known, every crisis comes with opportunities. Those who stopped waiting for things to go back to the way they were before the pandemic were able to adapt to the new needs of consumers. In fact, we have seen a significant increase in the numbers of e-commerce sales. But you can take a step ahead of adaptation and go over the standards. That is where the possibility of innovation lies.
Sometimes a small detail makes a difference, and you just have to pay attention to the needs that arise with change. Innovation doesn’t necessarily mean coming up with a whole disrupting idea, but instead, only attending to these new needs that are in front of you. Timing will be game-changing, now more than ever.
Let’s see a couple of examples from companies that have seized the opportunity:
- Zoom, the video conferencing software that conquered the Top Ten chart of most downloaded apps in Apple’s App Store, offers almost the same features as its other fellow video conferencing apps. Instagram Live or Youtube. The difference stands in the fact that the first two knew how to innovate keeping an eye on the two urgent needs that were arising:
- Real-time togetherness
- Live synchronous experiences
- Another successful product that has made of itself a titanic presence it’s Tik Tok. Its success can be explained because they knew in time how to properly fit a new trend in user behavior: the need for entertainment. The number of users rocketed while confinement was adopted as a health and security measure.
Creation keys for the new product era
So, what can we learn from Zoom and TikTok?
Digital, now more than ever, should not be considered as a distraction, but as a centerpiece for the society to keep functioning.
- To address these new arising needs, product creation should keep into account a few keys: Listen to your users (or target audience). Find out what’s needed, a whole new deal of social situations has appeared. Just think about our home dynamics, gender roles, education, friendships; if no record can help us to design a better future, we just may need to stop and listen to what people are saying. Innovation sometimes appears when we provide solutions to something that underlies without being satisfied.
- Think about how things used to be, habits that were lost, customs that we abandoned. In this way, you can come up with new ideas to bring people together in times of social distancing. Habits may start small, but if people enjoy themselves, products become sticky instantly!
- Communication is another aspect of our lives that suffered a lot of changes, with our friends, with our relatives, even with our therapist! Product creation should respond to these changes to help people feel more comfortable. Enhance communication through various strategies, such as setting up new spaces where we can share, where we can talk about what we are going through, about what is good for us. Privacy has shown its limits now that public life has moved in with us. We must also respect some boundaries at home to encourage our wellbeing. As product creators, we can promote new rules and patterns that help people keep healthy.
It’s time to find new approaches, and we hope, in that sense, you have found this guide useful. If anything, the pandemic has strengthened our approach to innovation. As a product creator, how are you coping with the new normality? What challenges or opportunities have you encountered so far?