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By Jennifer Hauschild

Connecting with your customers and being heard above the increased “noise” on social media and traditional marketing channels is now even more critical.

At LKF Marketing, we have many tools we use to “listen” and uncover critical information that will inform concept and design, but the process really begins with developing empathy for the end user.

But What Does Listening Look Like? Good Question, I’m Glad You Asked!

Consider our 1960s era acoustic scientist. He’s demonstrating technology that allows him to hear things very far away or perhaps eavesdrop on conversations (gasp!). Obviously, we have better technology today, but the image begs the question, “Do we really hear what’s being said?”

It’s a fun metaphor, and one that we use to tell the story about how we empathize with your challenges and create tools that speak to your audience and connect with them in a meaningful way.

Empathy is the critical first step in the Design Thinking process.

Design Thinking is essentially a problem-solving approach, crystalized in the field of design, which combines a holistic user-centered perspective with rational and analytical research with the goal of creating innovative solutions.

The modern iteration of Design Thinking has been around for more than 20 years and is used in a wide variety of industries such as industrial design, environmental architecture, graphic design, and engineering as well as law, psychology, anthropology, and many other areas. It is a means to collaboratively problem solve with a “designer’s mindset.”

Empathy in Action

We recently applied this holistic user-centered approach on the web redesign project for our engineering, surveying, architectural, and environmental services client Wightman.

Beginning with a series of discovery meetings with various stakeholders, we performed an empathetic deep dive to understand how to illustrate their passion and tagline, “It’s All About People.” The website needed to act as an extension of Wightman’s unique brand and provide in-depth information for clients and employees alike.

Collaborating very closely with their internal marketing manager and leadership team, we developed a sitemap and wireframe through a series of iterations and internal testing that provided the best possible access to information for the end user. Every page was designed to marry functionality with the brand story.

By enhancing Wightman’s existing brand look and feel, and adding subtle yet powerful user interactions, we were able to illustrate how projects use a variety of services and lead the user deeper into the site with fun action arrows. Galleries of team member photos slide together to indicate cohesion, a key driver behind project success. Service pages have interactive “specialties pop-ups” that let the user explore more in-depth without leaving that page.

We made sure to dazzle the eye with big, beautiful photos of portfolio projects linked to more detailed pages. Sidebars are chock full of resources and related information. The about and careers sections have a wealth of information and photos that highlight the Wightman “people” who bring the brand promise to life. Every footer has a topic-tailored call-to-action with a BIG RED BUTTON. You can’t miss it!

The Results of Listening Well

This site is successful in not only helping the user navigate, interact, and use resources, but also in delivering the Wightman story to potential customer and employees. We didn’t need an award to tell us this because we apply outstanding SEO and monitor analytics closely, but we did receive Davey and W3 Awards for the project! Most importantly, we continue to collaborate with Wightman to add user-driven functionality to the site and develop supporting pieces.

Listening the LKF Way

In this uncertain and ever-changing world, your website is more important than ever as the world relies on digital products to work, play, and live. As you consider your marketing budgets, stay calm and continue to market to your audience. Make sure you are setting aside the appropriate budget for design, SEO, web development, and brand management.

Should you need help in these endeavors, turn to our team of tried and true listeners for expert advice and support! We are always just an email, text, or phone call away. Contact us today!