By: Neil Sniffen

Date: August 23, 2016

The discussion over what warrants an effective user experience is fraught with buzzwords and strong opinions. From Delight! to mobile first, minimalist to design for design’s sake, there are thousands of opinions on Google that all claim to be the answer to creating the most effective user experience.

What really works is by using small elements from each of those ideas to create a unique, beautiful and useful user experience that helps your customers accomplish their predetermined onsite goals.

By focusing on what your customers are actually doing on your website or how they are interacting with an email, you can create a beautifully effective user experience that will help achieve the results you want.

It’s a simple concept but requires a few beliefs on your part.

Aim for more than awe. Build for more than function. These are three beliefs that tie it all together.

Believe in the Process

Most brands hire an agency to provide the creative mojo for their new digital project. But too many agencies are either one-stop shops with a mile wide service offering and an inch of experience in those services or are design for design’s sake shops that love to make beautifully ineffective online experiences (sure it’ll look great, but then what?). These shops are the purveyors of the surprise and delight process. They create massively impressive designs to wow brands, but often fail to see or design for the actual end-user of the product, your customers.

To create an effective user experience, you need to partner with an agency (or get alignment from your own internal team) that understands that the most effective user experience isn’t one that forces a customer into a noisy room full of advertisements, marketing jargon, and animated graphics. Remove the overt marketing, smooth the friction points to conversion,get out of your customer’s way and allow them to achieve the goal they set out to accomplish.

To do this, start your process with research. Creating anything based on gut feel may give you some success, but truly understanding both who your customers actually are and what they actually want to do requires deep reflection within the brand and research into your customers and historical data. Simply starting with your own analytics (or conducting user testing) may provide a new insight into who your customers are, what they want and what content they are consuming.

Next, create content (or review and revise existing content) that aligns with your research. This process is difficult but will allow for designers to use the actual content instead of placeholder copy and images. The result are designs that maximize the effective use of the available content.

Only after research and content are complete should you move on to design and development. Throw away your preconceived notions and bucket-list feature sets when it comes to this phase. Rely instead upon your research and content. They are your guiding light and will help recenter any designs back to your customers.

Once your site has been developed and deployed, the process starts over. An online experience is never a totally finished product, rather it is a living thing that requires attention and nurturing to mold it into an even better (and more effective) experience.

This process will ultimately lead you to higher conversions, increased revenues and more valuable leads.


Believe in the Data

Your data may be your most valuable asset. It tells you, without bias or gut feeling, how your customers are interacting with your brand. It cuts through the executive argument that you need to promote a particular product, make the logo bigger or talk more about the brand on the homepage.

Your data is one of the ultimate, objective sources of information about how to optimize your online customer experiences. But too many brands disregard or ignore their data in favor of historically effective (and digitally ineffective) marketing and sales tactics.

To create an effective user customer experience, you must believe in your data. It should be an intimate part of your creative and decision making process.

Use your data to create optimization testing plans, to measure success of campaigns and to continually iterate your online experiences to improve your customer’s experience. Start by working with your agency (or internal optimization team) to identify one-two key goals to measure success; create an action plan for testing, measurement, review, implementation and iteration; and implement the testing and improvement plan.


Believe in the Brand

Creating effective user experiences requires a faith and belief in your brand, a belief grounded in the fact that your customers know what they want from your brand and it is your responsibility to provide it to them. Deliver them an experience that accomplishes their goals and they will deliver sales, ambassadors and loyalty.

Too often, either through executive pressure or anxiety, we project our lack of belief in the brand by implementing conversion killing tactics (pop-ups, auto-rotating banners, stale content). But it is during these times of stress that we have to fall back on our belief in the process, the data and the brand.

Believe that your brand will survive hardship if you have confidence in your customer and provide them with what they are looking for when they are looking for it.

Believe that your brand will thrive if you create customer experiences that help your customers accomplish their predetermined goals.

Creating a beautifully effective user experience is a challenge. There is no magic sauce that can be replicated. In order to create an effective user experience, you must believe in the process you (and your agency) follow, the data your customers provide and the strength of the brand.

Subtext is a digital agency that focuses on building and optimizing online customer experiences for our clients. To learn more about how we help our clients and how we can help you, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!