Is your business turning off atypical brains?

Conservative estimates put the number of adults with ADHD at 2-4%. Every day we struggle with its effects. Poor working memory, distractability, difficulty managing time, following instructions and, if we are one of the majority with a comorbid condition, poor coordination and fatigue, to name but a few.

The good news is that ADHDers are highly skilled at devising ingenious workarounds to the problems we face. We are constantly making adaptations to our environment to help us streamline our workload, manage our time and organise our lives. But without the right tools, these adjustments and adaptations are time-consuming, costly and exhausting.

Many of us have suffered in silence and shame, blaming ourselves for our inability to navigate the world. But things are changing. We are talking to each other, learning to love our brains and waking up to the fact that businesses and service-providers are failing to meet our needs.

Given our reputation as impulsive spenders, this is baffling. The fact that we have a vast mental portfolio of marketable products at our fingertips makes this blindspot all the more frustrating. Coming up with creative solutions to life’s problems is what we do. Every day I have a new idea for a user-friendly product or service which would save me time, money or stress. I scour the internet, convinced that someone must have monetised this blindingly-obvious idea, only to discover it exists only in my mind’s eye. So I file it away in my overflowing mental cabinet and make do with what I have. A one-hour focus group with ADHD consumers would throw up more game-changing products than decades of market research.

The impact of considering the ADHD brain could have implications for other markets too. With an ageing population and increasing dementia rates, reducing demands on executive function seems like a no-brainer for businesses (pardon the pun). What’s more, the time-management and organisational tools that are essential for ADHDers, would be a godsend for parents, teachers and the 1.5 million of adults in the UK who have a learning disability. Indeed, from busy executives to overwhelmed parents, fun-loving students to exhausted carers, widowers to party-goers, noone’s operating system is bug-free 100% of the time.

This post gives some insight into the ADHD consumer experience. In it, I describe how a good quality product and much-loved possession became a source of stress and shame due to oversights in the design process and unclear instructions. Or, click here to read about my experience of speaking to customer service departments on the phone.

I believe that the benefit of considering atypical brains in market research, product design and communications far outweighs the investment. If you agree that ADHD brains deserve more than home-made workarounds, get in touch. We can work on the upgrade together.

Clarify your communications

You know you have a great product but your customers just don’t get how it works.

You’ve updated your FAQs but your team is still fielding endless queries. While you’re despairing at how clueless people are these days, your customers are throwing your product at the wall and ranting about it on Twitter.

I will review, edit or rewrite your content and communications. I have a word salad allergy so will edit your text mercilessly to remove any ambiguity.

I will produce recommendations on ADHD-friendly communications including:

  • Means, layout and frequency
  • Web layout
  • ADHD-friendly templates
  • Alternative terms
  • Font type

However, writing is a new-fangled technology. Neanderthals got by for millenia without it and it took homo sapiens a good 20,000 years to get around to inventing it. Maybe that’s why some of us prefer other methods. For this reason, I can offer recommendations on:

  • The use of other media (e.g. audiovisual)
  • Images and diagrams
  • Visual cues (e.g. colour-coding)
  • Verbal communication (e.g. processes, scripts and/or checklists for telephonists)
  • Anything else that comes to me (You wouldn’t believe some of the things my brain comes up with!)
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