Brilliant Reads: TfL’s design bible, news of the podcast revolution & do your customers love you too much?

Customer-focused station design

Transport for London (TfL) has published its Design Idiom: nine principles for underground station design. The idea behind it is to maintain the high standard of design London Underground is known for across the network.The principles form a guiding strategy for all design decisions and have the customer at their core. TfL devised its own hierarchy of needs from user research. These go from safety and order, to comfort, to life-enhancing features like referencing heritage and community. This framework helps to remind designers that inconsistencies in meeting basic needs such as safety and a sense of order, can negate the impact of aesthetically-focused design.

The DNA of a London Underground Station
London Connections 10 mins

The rise of screenless content (aka the podcast)

If 2014 was the year that podcasts reached a mainstream audience, 2015 was the year they proved they can turn a profit. And Neiman Lab predicts that 2016 will be the year they prove they’re an essential content format. The ‘rise of the podcast’ story may sound like a stuck record, but this piece argues that advances in apps and in-car audio, investment in content, and rising advertising revenue will make all the difference in the coming months.

The podcasting scene will explode
Nieman Lab 4 mins

Are comments the ultimate user-generated content?

In a recent edition of Brilliant Reads we brought you a couple of stories about the death, or reimagining, of comments. Now the New York Times is bucking the trend by focusing on these reader contributions. Community editor Bassey Etim explains that the newspaper treats comments as content. During the media storm surrounding the San Bernardino shootings earlier this month, the newspaper pulled comments through to its homepage. This put the thoughts of its readers at the centre of its coverage. The NYT has long encouraged its writers to interact with readers on social media, and this ongoing dialogue is a valuable part of their workflow.

The New York Times prioritizes commenters by placing them at the center of its homepage
Nieman Lab 3 mins

The people department (FKA HR and marketing)

Customers, and potential customers, should be at the heart of your business strategy. But so should the experience of those people who choose to work for you. This piece argues that the people-focused roles of HR and marketing should work together to deliver business value and growth. The symbiotic potential of the two departments isn’t confined to an obsession with people’s experience; each has information and skills that can benefit the other. If you don’t want to go as far as combining the roles at board level as the article suggests, it could be beneficial to establish regular check-ins and shared working practices.

Marketing and HR: Can We Be More Than Just Friends?
Contagious blog 5 mins

Why you might not want your customers to love you

While you focus on making the customer the centre of your world, what are they thinking of you? This piece, sparked by the recent merger of hotel chains Marriott and Starwood, looks at what happens when you charm your customers into thinking you’re a friend – only for them to be left bereft when you act like a business. Using the accepted psychological model for human relationships that they either fall into the ‘exchange’ or ‘communal’ categories, the piece points out that when a perceived communal, or friendship-based relationship descends into trouble and money must still change hands, the outcome can be much worse than a regular complaint.

Sorry, But Your Favorite Company Can’t Be Your Friend
New York Times 6 mins