The future of technology and user experience (UX) comes down to one thing: personalization. Personalized content, products and online experiences are the natural evolution of great online customer experiences. Using past behaviors and preferences, we can predict a customer’s future behavior and deliver an experience they will want and enjoy. Using this data can also help make more informed design and UX decisions. Through testing and iteration, we can provide customers with the ultimate tailored and seamless digital experience. This concept is, let’s face it, really cool.
Admittedly, this is not a new concept. The idea of using technology to capture data, learn from it, alter functionality and customize the interaction a customer has with it is a form of artificial Intelligence (AI). AI and smart technology have made their way into just about every form of pop culture and media from books to films to video games and TV shows. There is no shortage of AI themes in our everyday lives. One TV show in particular, has made its way to the forefront of AI entertainment, HBO’s sci-fi/western drama, Westworld.
Westworld, based off the 1973 film, is centered around a futuristic theme park set in the wild west, filled with lifelike robots that are designed to provide its human guests with a customized experience like no other. The show takes UX to a whole new level (to a graphic degree, mind you), and how far we can potentially push technology in the future. That being said, Westworld and the UX world, are not too dissimilar in terms of a high-level goal: provide a personalized, delightful, and seamless experience.
Rogue robots aside, we can learn quite a bit from these rather parallel themes of personalization, and what it means to create the ultimate user experience.
Theme 1.0: Data, Data, Data
We have to get personal in order to understand how to design and customize an experience.
Before a customer enters Westworld, theoretically they work with a consultant so that the park can learn what the customer likes and dislikes in order to anticipate the kinds of people, places, and scenarios they might enjoy. Throughout a customer’s stay, the park continuously gathers data from that person, tests new interactions for them, and learns their behaviors and reactions in order to optimize their experience.
In UX, we collect data from customers through analytics. Customers, through their actions online, tell us their favorite colors, sizes, products, advertisements, emails, calls-to-action, and location (to name a few). As we collect data and see how customers interact with a website, we can learn their behaviors, test their preferences, and personalize the website visit to cater specifically to them.
Theme 2.0: Devil is in the Details
It’s all in the details, and every little interaction counts.
Customers go to Westworld knowing they will interact with robots but want to forget that reality. They anticipate the robots will act human, and therefore become human in their eyes. In order for their experience with robots to feel natural, it requires the creators to pay extra attention to the fine details, from the robots’ human-like mannerisms to every word they speak. This lets the customers focus on the Westworld experience instead of getting hung up on a glitching robot.
When designing in the digital space, we have to anticipate a customer’s expectations in a similar way. When a customer uses a website Subtext designs, we want their experience to be delightful and seamless. We worry about the details, so the customer doesn’t have to.
From data, we make informed decisions on a customer’s future behavior. If a customer does X, then we show them Y. We can customize interactions, design, interface and functionality per customer. It’s like predicting what they will want before they know that they know they want it. [Mind blows up]
Theme 3.0: The Customer is Always Right
As much as we may not like to admit it, it is in fact, all about the customer.
Westworld thrives on keeping the customer happy. It’s the basis for keeping the entire world going, and keeping customers coming back to the park. In order to do this, the park’s creators and controllers are constantly evolving their storylines and tinkering with their robots to ensure their customers are getting the experience they expect.
In the UX world, as creators of a product or an experience, we all have opinions on what an interaction should be, what a design should look like, or how something should function. Ultimately, though, it’s how a customer is interacting and experiencing what we create that will determine whether our intuition was correct. Using the data customers provide will help create an experience customers are looking for (even if they didn’t know that’s what they wanted).