UX London: Design with an Opinion

by April 18, 2012

In his Design with an Opinion presentation at UX London 2012 Bill DeRouchey talked about the potential of opinions in product design to elicit reactions from people. Here's my notes from his talk:

  • How can we better engage with customers through the design and messaging of our products? Your opinions actually help.
  • Over 100,000 people have requested an invitation to join Simple (formerly Bank Simple). That’s one person for every ten minutes of two years. Very few people have expressed anger about being on the list for this long.
  • Why were there so many people interested? It was because the company had very strong opinions. From day one, they articulated them: “banking sucks”.
  • People identify with opinions. It creates connections: there’s people who think like me. There’s a connection between the people behind the product.
  • The old way: show features & benefits of your product. This is a classic marketing approach for companies. Factually describe the product and make people react to it.
  • The recent way: informal language, humor, and folksy language to surprise and delight. This adds personality to products and aims to make people smile.
  • The better way: have an opinion. Be a bit antagonistic. Presenting your product with an opinion makes people think. Thinking creates engagement.
  • Putting an opinion out there forces you to react. To think about it even if just for a few minutes.
  • Let your opinions shine through in your product.


  • One of Simple’s opinions was: “you are bad at math” It takes time to figure how much money you really have. The Safe to Spend feature on Simple does the math for you (calculates upcoming payments, average spending, etc.)
  • Another: “your money is your data”. You can search Simple using “food last 7 days” and get back all your recent transactions. You can also search for “lunch last month”. Lunch is defined by time and category.
  • On launch, Path limited the number of friends that you can have to 50. They told people the product was for a limited, smaller network.
  • Nest: “you should never have to set your temperature”