Instead of concentrating on purely functional designs when developing your latest product or service, it’s time to find new ways of engaging your audience – here are some creative businesses leading the way.
Emotional design is the way forward
Smartphone users have an app for almost everything to feel productive and efficient, but now they have the option to send and receive laughter with newly-launched app Haha, which allows users to record a laugh or a cackle to send to their contacts.
The app was created by mobile and web development company Tapmint with the aim of “making something fun and cool”.
“If someone is feeling a bit down you can cheer them up,” Tapmint’s head of product development Matthew Ho recently told StartupSmart. “You can send a laugh to your girlfriend, husband or a friend. Right now we’re just putting it out there and seeing how people use it.”
Ho says Australia’s indie game developers are trending towards experimenting with human stimuli, such as sound and touch. Haha is a prime example of this move towards capturing social and emotional principles for greater engagement.
“I definitely think we’re going down that path of adding emotional design into them. But we just wanted to make something fun and simple to use that is really quick to send a laugh. It was quite a challenge to keep it narrow, focused and simple.”
The hug-based business
Forget dating and hook-up apps. Cuddle Up To Me allows people to pay for cuddles from strangers, and the service seems to have resonated with millions. The attention from international media has been overwhelming, but founder Samantha Hess recently told SmartCompany that she is pleased her business is starting up a conversation.
Noting that the business’ social media pages have been flooded with messages of support and delight at the idea, she says: “It’s really nice to hear different perspectives from all over the globe.”
“I absolutely love what you are doing with your business,” one person wrote. “Sharing and spreading the love and kindness that everybody needs and deserves. You are amazing.”
And it’s not the only service to capitalise on the fundamental need for human connection as a means of carving out a niche and thriving in a competitive marketplace. Dean Serroni, cofounder of Melbourne-based social network startup Vent, created his business so that people had a space to complain, moan and support one another online.
He says there is a lot of potential in the Australian market for companies looking to cater for people who want to connect on a meaningful level, particularly in today’s fast-paced, digital society.
“There’s an emerging generation of people who are looking for more out of social media,” Serroni said.
“There’s a growing need for sites that cater for people who want to connect with each other on a deeper, more emotional level – whether it be to provide support or to share problems in a way that makes people feel they are not alone in their situation.”