During research phases we often come across reoccurring themes that impede a customer’s journey through a product or service. Below we explain the importance of user research in discovering these themes and highlight four aspects of a user’s journey that we feel should never be overlooked by product teams.
Organisations that put Customer Experience thinking at the heart of their business strategy often see a measurable return on investment. To get the best results, proven best-practice methodologies for creating compelling experiences need to be used. These should be based on a comprehensive understanding of target audiences and their needs. Measuring success and in particular the return on investment is paramount with any modern digital strategy. To establish what success looks like we always recommend starting by examining current metrics through a programme of research.
From understanding current issues and behaviours through to evaluating new ideas and features these insights provide a tangible way to communicate the direction, success and dependencies to business stakeholders.
User experience improvements which are made without a thorough understanding of business goals and existing metrics, only achieve a superficial level of success.
During our quantitative research we carry out market-research surveys, brand audits, examine customer-query logs, site surveys, analytics, heuristic evaluations and competitor benchmarking. We are interested in establishing whether users are able to find what they are looking for, understand the way things work, whether the content is thorough and compelling enough and whether questions are answered and expectations met. Analysis of quantitative data highlights where a service is or isn’t meeting expectations and where opportunities exist to delve deeper into the problem.
Qualitative research uncovers the way people feel and the motivations behind their behaviour. Our most frequently used method for this type of research is user interviews. Interviews are often, but not exclusively carried out in natural settings, i.e at the user’s home, their place of work or out and about in a coffee shop or outside space.
The following customer experience trends represent best practices we believe could solve some of the issues we see time and time again through our research. These methods are often overlooked, but when optimised can have the potential to greatly impact the success of a digital product or service:
1. Establishing ‘Design Systems’ for consistency of tone and experience
Forward-thinking big businesses are finally becoming serious about unifying their often wide-ranging cross platform products and services. Visa, the credit card company, recently launched a new vision across all of their digital products. With a global audience, Visa naturally means different things to different people. They worked hard for a year to create a system that was authentic and iconic enough to resonate with their global consumer and enterprise audiences, across any device or platform.
Establishing a robust design system that can be rolled out across products means time will be saved in the future as different aspects of a business, including its processes and systems are reconciled or evolved. If websites feel disjointed user’s journeys often feel like they end prematurely or abruptly. We believe that establishing a robust design system is key to the success of any digital product or service.
Here is a great guide book to creating design systems by Invision:
2. Optimising for disjointed journeys
Throughout the day users embark on several digital journeys, they often have them running in parallel, some with different timescales to others and all with different goals. Some of these journeys are taken with a poor internet connection or no connection at all, others are carried out while doing something different entirely. Organisations such as Google and Facebook are investing heavily in the optimisation of content for mobile devices using technologies like Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Instant Articles. The prevalence of this technology will mean users will start to expect the same optimised experience across all their digital experiences.
Users are also increasingly expecting digital journeys to be seamless between devices. Apple’s new feature called Continuity allows devices to work together. So users can start an email, edit a document, or browse the internet on one device and then pick up where you left off on another. Businesses should ensure all digital touchpoints are optimised for disjointed journeys and should do everything they can to ensure continuity, in order to improve conversions, reduce helpdesk enquiries and increase customer satisfaction.
We recently wrote a post about how to maximise the impact of these moments in time:
5 Tips for designing with micro-moments in mind
Everybody seems so busy nowadays. Or at least that’s how I feel. Our busy lives mean we now spend more time doing… well…
3. Humanising digital experiences
People expect to be spoken to in a friendly, relatable way. Citymapper is a great example of this in action. At Citymapper, they spend lots of time finding out what people call things, so they can use the same language in app. Using the language your users use means they’ll understand you and start to develop an affinity.
Developing products that talk with personality, clarity and in a way that users understand is key to success. Another great example is the National Trust website, as soon as you arrive at the homepage inspirational statements such as “Room to breathe” are displayed over beautiful images, the site asks for your location and without having to navigate to other pages, the site is personalised and becomes immediately relatable. To achieve harmony across all digital touchpoints, we recommend all commonalities, differences and the highest value audience segments are examined and ensure improvements resonate across each of them.
4. Effective ‘Productisation’ and merchandising
Productisation is packaging a service so that it can be marketed and then presented to a customer as a product. This helps with the process of selling and visitor conversion as it modifies the buyer’s mindset from a simple browsing experience into a purchasing journey. This is key to any website that attempts to sell multiple products or services as the education of your offering is framed in a way that users already understand.
Strava’s website clearly and simply explains each aspect of its service to the user for effective productisation. The use of mobile features, how users can use their desktop to dive into the statistical detail and which features are only accessible to paying customers. Best practice productisation starts by identifying what the key offerings are, explaining benefits clearly and presenting demonstrable evidence.
This is by no means exhaustive, but its always handy to have a little list in your back pocket of things to look out for when creating or tweaking a product or service. In summary, ensure you have a robust design system in place, optimise for fragmented lives, speak the user’s language and ensure products and services are clearly explained, packaged and provide the user with a notable value exchange.
Furthermore are a multi-platform digital product and service design studio based in London. We have one mission: to create innovative digital products that stand out in the landscape, are beautiful, purposeful and a delight for the user. Hot on user experience and user research, we believe good ideas can come at any point in a project, so we utilise agile methodologies. Hypotheses are always tested using prototypes and real users, with improvements being constantly fed back into our user experience and visual designs.