“What Will People In Iowa Understand?”

Posted By Debbie on October 23, 2013

In August 2013, I went to the D23 Expo. It’s a sort of fan event thrown by Disney. It part Comic Con with cosplay and part “let us show you what’s coming up for Disney in the world of travel, parks, hotels, consumer products, toys, movies, music, and more.” I’m a big Disney fan. No I’m not into Princesses. I’m mostly into parks, hotels, technology, and innovation. I travel to Walt Disney World Florida roughly every other year. It’s my second home. 🙂

One of the displays at D23 2013 was for the upcoming Disney movie, “Tomorrowland.” The premise is that Disney staff recently found a box labelled 1952, and it had all kinds of mysterious things in it. I don’t know if that’s real or just a device to be a backstory to the movie. I just don’t. And I don’t know if the movie will be any good or not. I certainly hope it will be!

At D23, they had an exhibit of what was in this 1952 box. Some were early drawings of audio animatronics, which is what Disney calls their robots that walk, talk, etc… And across two pages of these drawings, it said:

What will people in Iowa understand?

In all caps.

It seemed like a UX moment to me. Like hey, we can build these robots, but “will it play in Peoria?” What do these need to do, be, and look like to be believable to everybody in this country, no matter who they are or where they’re from.

I know Iowa can be on the crap end of a lot of jokes, especially since they recently voted to allow gun permits for legally blind people (say wha?). I wasn’t there to know if the person who wrote that meant it as a joke or insult.

Teams and companies need to think about their personas, their audience. What will they understand? Believe? What do they need? How do we solve their problems or create something that delights them?