Many organisations don’t truly understand what they are trying to achieve with their Digital Investment or indeed what the possibilities are. This is reflected in the user experiences on the digital platforms where users are lost, disengaged or at worst disassociated themselves from the brand. In the Middle East there is a clear divide of those that “Get It”, and those that dont.
- Go on to any of these bank websites and try to find out clear information regarding mortgage rates today?
- Log onto the site via your tablet or mobile. Request a mortgage meeting?
- Try to sign up for any account online
- Try to transfer money!
Think about it (particularly in the Middle East), how many times have you searched for a product or service and been truly let-down by the experience or content that exists on the resulting website and have wasted endless hours flicking through various sites, only to end up phoning for re-assurance or simply never following through on an idea that inspired you? Or you have accessed a site that has not been updated in months, years or uses technology that is not working on your handheld device?
Customers & Companies lose out!
This is really not a new issue, while companies put so much focus on creating, developing and enhancing technology solutions (e.g. booking functionality, eRetail shops, very creative & flashy experiences), they put very little consideration into the importance of the user experience or the relevant content that meets the varying needs and requirements of the multitude of “types” of visitors to their website. UX is a strategy in it’s own right, which requires clear thought processes, structure, definition and execution. It answers to business needs, brand essence, visual design, SEO etc. but ultimately it focusses on the User and their experience.
User experience strategy (or UX) incorporates content, individually approached, the customers experience is broken, and so is your online relationship with your customer.
So what is the benefit to your business?
It may simplistic, but at the very essence, quality UX will grow your business and return shareholder equity!
This is clearly demonstrated through:
- Increased traffic to your brand through improved search engine rankings
- Increased self-service of users (lower your costs in other business units)
- Increased equity through higher value purchases
- Increased footfall to your offline business units (if you direct them!)
- Increased association & positive relationship to your brand
You can build a Ferrari, but unless you put the engine in it, it is just a good looking box!
So what to do?
There are many approaches to getting UX right. The below steps will provide a basic outline to enhancing the user experience, through quality content and overall truly enhance your customers association to the brand. This is based on large online developments, but the hypothesis can be utilised across the spectrum.
Start with research. What is the actual (today) experience of users on your platforms (website, mobile, application, intranet etc.). Bring your customers to the table – get them to call your baby ugly!
- Depending on the size of company, this could be as simple as online surveys and assessing analytical info to address error pages, through to very complex and detailed Usability analysis and structured assessment.
- Is the experience; Useful, Compelling, Usable? Does it do justice to your physical brand or service? Can users fulfil their needs? Are the business objectives being met?
- What is your content gap? What are you leaving unfulfilled or unanswered?
- What are your competitors doing better?
- We will be the best at…
- We will be number one for…
- We are here to do… best…
Identify what you are truly trying to achieve with the experience
- This is your business analysis. Is your website a transactional experience, a self-service platform, a brand communication tool or a mix of everything?
- Create the objectives for your website and create the business KPI’s that you would associate success to
- Create personalities of the people that you are trying to target. There will likely be a multitude of these and all will have a varying degree of importance to your business objectives.
- Instil these persona’s in all stakeholders minds – these are the people we are going to service online, these are their needs.
- I recommend putting actual faces on the persona’s, creating a story and always relate to this throughout your internal communications.
- Create user journeys based on interactive wire-frames before you even touch a design easel.
- Test the user journeys extensively – sweat them.
- Do they pass the tests of the persona’s?
- Identify the content that you need to put in there. What are your gaps? Start to identify content sources.
- Bring in the tech experts to identify (based on your infrastructure, systems etc) what is feasible in the wire-frames. During this session, be prepared to make changes!
- Finally, let the creative guys run wild with your design. Make sure that the association to your brand is clear and that the user experience is always top of mind.
- Throughout the journey, make sure that at every milestone, you have clear considerations for testing that the UX remains strong and the Persona’s requirements are always met.
Content is still King!
- Make sure that your content fits the user persona requirements per page. Don’t simply re-use the same content that you had before as the requirements per page have changed.
- Recommend using a barometer appraoch to balancing the needs of the user, with the business, brand, usability needs etc. Do this per page and assess the needs per user persona.
The truth is in the numbers…
- Believe it or not, but now you have a new UX centred online experience, the real work has only now begun!
- Make sure that your analytic structure / tagging methodology is sound. Only by measuring quantitative impact of your investment in UX will you be able to A, quantify the shifts and B, make ongoing and iterative improvements
- Implement A/B Testing, Multi-variant testing, emotional auditing to constantly improve upon UX and the changing consumer needs
Hope that this provides a valuable top level overview of how to strategically approach UX in order to enhance the users perception of your brand. The return on investment can be considerable by starting with the human elements of the online experience and always maintaining these throughout the cycles.