Niklas Wiedemann

Introducing Fjord Tjunes – not all pain points are created equal

At Fjord, we spend our days designing services and products, mostly digital ones. If these do not solve a problem someone has, no one will use them. That’s why we do a lot of research to find out what the pain points, frustrations and frictions are for the users, before we start, and check if we address them while we design and after the launch.

But not all pain points are created equal. When people tell you what annoys them, they sometimes don’t realise that a beautiful bit of value is intertwined with that nuisance. So it is really important that we acknowledge that and try to preserve it. If you’re just hunting down pain points to eliminate them, it’s easy to design the charm away.

One example that is very close to my heart, is music. We have an army of great products and services, such as Spotify, Soundcloud or Sonos, that enable a great music experience. They thought about so many neat things to help me find new music, always have all the right music around me everywhere and give me inspiration when I struggle to find something nice to listen to. I am an avid and happily paying Spotify subscriber. Discover weekly is a godsend, saving artists quickly when they come up in discussions always gives me a great backlog of music to sift through on boring tube rides, and having access to a huge catalogue let’s me give in to random urges like listening to that one-hit-wonder from the 90’s when it randomly shoots into my head.

That’s all great and I wouldn’t want to trade it. Yet, something silently got lost along the way that sadly probably won’t come back. The investment and limited access to music. I guess they don’t sound like terrible things to lose. But there’s a subtle value hiding in them, which got shaved off along the way. That’s what I miss.

When I was younger getting new music meant: finding a spare hour or two, having enough cash, walking to the store, digging through the crates, listening to some records (if I wasn’t after a specific record), deciding which one(s) to get, paying (quite a bit), walking home (eager to listen to the record properly on nice speakers), pulling the record out of the sleeve, putting the needle to the vinyl, listening to the first side while reading the credits etc, getting up to turn over the record after 3-4 tunes and so on. This reads like a lot of work, especially if you compare it to typing the name into your mobile and leaning back. The investment is quite high in money and in time. However, this investment also made the purchase mean something. It was a very conscious decision to buy this particular record because it was worth it to you. This whole process was the start of a relationship you have with the record.

And even after the first spin, listening to music required me to go to my turntables, dig out a record (hurray if it was not misplaced), put it on, get the next one after that and so on. Every time I listened to music it was a very conscious connection with it and the longing to listen to something outweighed the effort needed to make it happen.

That’s why we’ve bought a turntable and put it in the middle of the London studio. We started building our record collection with some of our people donating personal records and each of them sharing their story about the record. To keep it growing, every new starter has to go and buy a record to add to the shelves. During our Friday Sundowners sessions, they introduce themselves and their record to the rest of the studio. We call it Fjord Tjunes.

Is it pure nostalgia then? Of course not. It’s a symbol, and a reminder not to miss the value hidden in pain points. It is a knot in our handkerchiefs that ultimate convenience sometimes comes at a cost. We need to challenge ourselves to uncover this hidden value and preserve it when we solve problems. Sometimes you might not be able to separate the two. That’s when we need to decide if we gain more value than we loose by reducing the friction. And if it doesn’t, we might need to be bold enough to keep it. That’s where you’ll find the fabric of great services that feel human and not robotic.

FT Abbie[1] copy

FT Dom[1] copy

FT John[1] copy

FT NickPC[1] copy

FT Tim[1] copy

FT Tom[1] copy

Niklas Wiedemann

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