Content and User Experience have become the new product (for everyone)
The apps and web experiences that companies offer their customers have become an established means for brands to connect deeper; likewise it’s a service consumers expect from their purchasing decisions as part of overall product value.
I have a checking account with a large midwest bank and you can speak directly with the President of the bank from a phone in the lobby. I phone him up one day to give some feedback on things and mentioned how glad I was that they had invested in a new app. It was much better than the one before. When I thanked him for that and mentioned the troubles of their old app he remarked, “Oh yeah, well that’s all behind us now.”
Is it really? I cringed somewhat but couldn’t muster the critical words, wanting to be polite. Later I wished I had. I wanted to warn him that it’s really never over, from here on out. Banking will be done online in greater forms over the coming years, and the User Experience of any Bank or Credit Union’s app will be of such vital importance to service of the banking itself, that it becomes at many levels the actual product they’re now selling.
Attention will need to be paid not only to the Quality Assurance (bug-testing never ends, because software evolves) but also content, relevancy, and capabilities.
And I thought similarly when I noticed the current Starbucks® app. There’s a pretty big location near our house, so it’s nice for working sometimes and they keep the lighting cozy.
It’s a pleasant little app because I notice the many ways they work to engage with patrons by suggesting songs of the week (offering free downloads on iTunes), giving out loyalty points, and the big one: offering pay-ahead orders of coffee to skip the line. They even feature suggested apps for downloading.
Starbucks® seems to be getting it right in a lot of ways, heck I wish I could help out on their design team (ahem, hint Starbucks Coffee).
It doesn’t happen on the back burner
The real point is that as today’s companies are embarking on a deeper relationship with their users this also means approaching their web and mobile presence with a new paradigm of priorities and resources.
Does this sound familiar?
Your company spends a chunk of cash on a new website, waits a couple years until its terribly out of style, slaps a new site together, waits a couple more years and does it again — getting more expensive every time of course. We’ve been through this cycle about 3–4 times now in most companies — that method is finished, there’s a new program.
Here’s another one: the same company spends all sorts of effort and expense building a gorgeous new website and then hurries together some last minute “fluff” content to fill up space — we can’t do this anymore, there’s a better way.
And finally: our same beloved company goes and hacks together an app that was designed by committee and developed without iteration, published to the app store to be immediately outdated. — no more, we’re better now
Now we understand the priorities
The new online and mobile presence is about progressing forward constantly, continually refining and offering relevance and substance. It can no longer be a game of doing the bare minimum so to give customers “just enough” and to have something out there. As I’ve said in previous articles, Content is the truth.
Our web and mobile presence has grown into our product set, and we have to treat it with as much resource and priority. This means devotion to successful processes for design and development, and ones that incorporate a feedback-loop of user testing and in-app analytics. It means publishing more content that’s truly valuable. It means finding opportunities for doing extra, and so speaking of which: every now and then leave us an easter egg won’t you?