We talk to Adam Powers of BBH London about how UX is helping advertisers create deeper, longer-lasting connections with consumers.
We are looking forward to our return to London later this autumn. On 10th October, the team behind PSFK.com will host a morning of ideas and inter-mingling in the Purcell Room at the Southbank Centre. This informal and relaxed event connects readers and local creative professionals together over a series of short talks by inspirational speakers.
One of these speakers will be Adam Powers, currently of BBH. Adam has enjoyed a successful design career, now spanning 20 years, over a decade of which he spent designing and leading digital user experience & design (UX&D) across the BBC’s desktop, mobile and IPTV digital services.
Having joined multi-award winning agency BBH in 2011, Adam now brings his skills to its formidable client roster, including Google, Barclays Bank and RedBull and across various offices in the US and Asia. Adam’s primary objective is to create powerful, credible and rewarding experiences, whatever the brand touchpoint.
We spoke to Adam about user experience design, its place in the advertising industry, and what certain projects have taught him about the changing landscape of interactive web design.
What is UX doing in ad agencies?
UX is helping ad agencies change how they respond to a client’s communications brief. Disruption is no longer the sole weapon of choice. Consumers are savvier and better connected than they have ever been, and simply won’t stand for a brand that is full of bullshit. At its broadest, UX helps agency and client think about and produce meaningful interaction with consumers through platforms, products, and services. As more brands look to evolve into content providers, UX practitioners in creative agencies can now go deeper – beyond the broadcast or print ad that generates fame – and give the brand relationship with customer real purpose and utility.
Are there certain challenges in the culture of making campaigns rather than things and services that people can go on to use?
There are enormous challenges in this shift. It involves thinking beyond the sugar rush of campaigns where focus is making something big, bold and beautiful that burns brightly for a short time. The mindset and skillset of a new breed of team thinks about iteration, analytics and improvement. It thinks about how “always on” advertising performs and communicates over longer periods. It requires strategists and creatives to enter into the world of brand as service, considering every touchpoint they have with their customers and how to make them as effective as they can be.
You led the team that created the BBC iPlayer. How do you leverage that experience in your work?
Though I didn’t lead the team on the main iPlayer project, my team did develop the earlier versions of BBC iPlayer for mobile and tablet. Those experiences taught me a lot about designing experiences for mobile, such as understanding the focus and the discipline required to create great interactions on your most personal devices. The 1 foot experience is quite unlike any other, where we can understand context of use so much more deeply and tailor experiences to match. It also schooled me in complex technology product development with multiple stakeholders, a demanding audience and the power technology has to completely change human behaviour.