Best Practices Watch - Know Your Goals
The final episode of Broadchurch aired this past week in the US. It’s a BBC-owned crime drama spanning a single season and my wife and I loved it. Although there are many positives about the show, I want to talk about the surprise ending.
No, I’m not going to reveal the ending, but it was one heck of a surprise and it got me thinking. At what point in the writing process did the creators think of this ending? I have zero knowledge of the truth but I have to believe that the ending - the goal, as it were - was the original plot point. It was the genesis for everything that comes before it.
Each character and storyline thread inexorably leads the audience to a very specific finale so how could the conclusion be unknown to the writers? One sign of a satisfying show is the ending makes you hit your head and say, “Of course!” Achieving this requires a well constructed beginning and middle that effortlesslly funnels the audience to a predetermined conclusion.
Before you create an interactive experience - before you create anything for an audience - you have to have a clear understanding of your goals. These goals should supported by every aspect of your experience, from design and content to the messages conveyed.
Don’t underestimate the difficulty. Consider an interactive trade show exhibit. You perceive your goal as enforcing the idea that your company is the best at doing X. Great - so you create an experience with lots of facts and figures making this point. Unfortunately, the layout you’ve created is confusing to follow and makes poor use of graphic media. Does a visitor say to him or herself, “Well that was a poor design but this is great information!” No, it is more likely that they say to themselves, “This company can’t even make a good presentation!”
Know ALL of your goals in advance and - throughout the design process - constantly ask yourself, am I driving the audience to the conclusions I want them to have? Take advantage of all capabilities at your disposal to make the best experience possible, leading the participant to a satisfying conclusion.
Every journey starts with the first step - but without a goal it is just wandering.