Do designs respond to customer needs or push changes in behaviour?

I was reading an article the other day that talked about how Ikea were changing the way their book shelves are designed in a pre-emptive stance or maybe in reaction to the growing trend of e-books and the premise that books aren’t or wont be what people want to store in books shelves any more.

As an author it does make me sad to think that the good old printed book might not be in homes any more but aside from that it made me wonder whether Ikea, or designers in general, are pushing the change to happen or if they really areresponding to the immediate needs of their customers and target audience.

The age old chicken or egg cycle. I think it is great for designers and brands to try and pre-empt and encourage change in user behaviours but I would utter a word of caution – make sure you really know your customers. Working with many of our clients we have found over the years that they often think they know what their customers need and are really keen to push their product offerings and customer experiences to the next level, but often they are looking at the wrong areas -  so do your research, and be careful which direction you go

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