As interesting as it is to review case studies and critiques of Digital Experiences in the various blogs, magazines and LinkedIn groups that we’re all so fond of, for me nothing beats hearing about some of the industry’s best experiences first hand, and to have the opportunity to question the people who made them happen face to face. I was fortunate enough to have this opportunity earlier this month when I was a judge at the UK Digital Experience Awards at the lovely Park Plaza in London.
When I noted down what I think are the six basic rules of a good experience on the train home from the awards and received some comments on LinkedIn that evening, it really struck me how important it is to get the basics right if you’re going to deliver truly great experiences for your customers, consumers and users.
1. The user
Everyone says it, but do we really put users at the centre of everything? The user has to be at the beginning, middle and end of every experience.
One of the awards entries that particularly impressed me was Click Consult’s, which demonstrated how they took their online experience directly to the users in question (who were hiding away due to the sensitiveness of the topic). They identified and intervened in social conversations, breaking down barriers to encourage people to help each other as a community. By empowering their users, they brought success for their client’s and supported a group of people who were struggling to find the help they needed.
User centricity is impossible without data. We all know this, but can we honestly look ourselves in the eye and say that everything we do online reflects a data driven opportunity? And do we always define what the data will need to say to prove that this opportunity has been realised before we plough ahead?
Without understanding the status quo and identifying exactly what would define success, experiences will never be tangibly meaningful for a business, and any benefits to the user will be a mystery.
Facing into this – setting KPIs and identifying ways to measure against them before racing ahead with the project – was one of the reasons why LV= were so successful in their entry. Their KPIs were clear and the use of analytics software meant user behaviour was tracked and understood at every stage.
3. Never give up
There is always another opportunity to chase after in Digital. Even once those nicely defined KPIs are reached, optimisation adds enormous value, usually through lots of baby steps.
Webhelp rose to glory with their explanation of how they used a UX lab (music to the judges’ ears!) and a beta testing phase to build on learnings before, during and after their project launch. They also gave specific focus to the mobile experience. It sounds obvious, but it’s rarely done well and it earned them lots of brownie points from us judges.
4. Beautiful design with a purpose
Truly gorgeous design goes a long way in the world of digital experience but it has to have a purpose – to help take the user to where they need to go and to achieve their need. When it came to design, one entry stood out at the awards.
Cordless drills – sound pretty functional don’t they? But Your Favourite Story made them pretty damn sexy. Their gloriously animated experiences elevated their entry. Who knew drills could be so beautiful?
5. New technology
Fancy functions can deliver a wow factor but seem to be best used slowly, gently and wisely. There’s nothing worse than being hooked into something cool only to discover it’s more hassle than it’s worth.
Web Help delivered genuinely helpful self service for their client, driving impressive improvements in consumer satisfaction which accelerated their business transformation programme and in fact moved their catalogue business completely online.
The holy grail of a good use of technology to deliver the perfect user experience is one that meets an individual’s needs with no effort from them. Isn’t it great when that happens?
Achieving this brilliantly still seems to be a little allusive and we didn’t see anyone who truly delivered this brilliantly. In this fast paced industry, no doubt next year’s UK Digital Experience Awards will see more of it. I’m looking forward to them already – you just know we’ll be inspired by things we can’t predict, and hopefully more and more digital experiences will deliver on these six basic rules too.