Want to create a compelling user experience for your customers? Follow these five rules.
Know your users
Before you can design a pleasing user experience, you need to know what users actually want. Unfortunately, many brands don’t do enough to understand their customers and how the business can meet their needs, says Jonathan Goldmacher, managing director for Valtech in New York.
“You need to start with the audience you’re serving,” he says. “Understand their lives intimately, the role your category and brand play in their lives, and the places where you have an opportunity to do things in an exceptionally better way. You also need to understand the business you’re in and what’s possible inside that environment.”
Look beyond your category
You might be doing a fine job keeping up with other brands in your competitive set, but you also need to keep up with Amazon, Netflix and other digital startups.
“People bring their expectations from every category,” says Elephant vp Kevin Kearney. “You may be best in your category, but if you’re not thinking about where people’s expectations are going and what their needs are, someone will enter your category and meet those needs the way other brands do.”
But don’t be a copycat
There’s a long history of brands imitating other successful products. That’s a really dumb idea, says Charming Robot CEO Dan Maccarone, because that brand’s strategy and audience might be entirely different.
“A few years ago, every company would come to us and say, ‘Our homepage needs to look like Pinterest because Pinterest is successful,'” says Maccarone. “Well, maybe it’s successful for their strategy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for your strategy. And just because someone else is doing it, doesn’t mean they’re doing it right.”
Go where your customers are
Brands spend millions trying to lure customers to their own sites, when they should focus on improving the customer experience across all platforms, says Linda Holliday, CEO of Citia.
“Most companies spend most of their money trying to drag attention back to their own website,” says Holliday. “If you’re Condé Nast and you want readers to have an extended experience with Vogue, it doesn’t matter whether it happens on the company website, YouTube or Instagram when the alternative is ‘not at all.'”
User experience design is a journey, not a destination. You need to keep constantly iterating and improving or you’ll fall behind.
“People don’t understand how much failure goes into every successful interface they see,” says Khoi Vinh, principal designer at Adobe. “They also don’t see how essential it is to continue to experiment with new ways of doing things to adapt to users’ changing habits. No UX design can stay fixed for very long; it needs to evolve with the user if brands want to stay relevant.”