Human Experience, not just User Experience
How your brand can create remarkable and authentic human moments
There is so much stuff on the internet. No, there is so much useless stuff on the internet. The BuzzFeeds of the world have carved out a significant portion of online real estate dedicated to click-farms hiding behind Meghan Markle wardrobe critiques. This content is finding its way onto our screens with increased frequency and it’s wasting our time.
Our attention-deficit minds (and thumbs) are feeding this click-machine that treats us as users. A number on a dashboard. An event in a funnel.
This means being spoken to as a human and not just a potential click has become a remarkable moment. We need more of these moments.
The ask? More remarkable moments (and fewer Markle moments), please.
Not many remarkable moments.
I’ve spent the better part of seven years writing for social media. I’ve built out social channels for global brands using 140 character limits and worked against the tide of diminishing organic reach.
Writing for the online content machines means working against the clock to be seen. I’ve created a lot of content that spent just a few days in some news feeds, before tumbling into a black hole at the bottom of the internet, never to be seen by human eyes again.
This approach is exhausting for content creators, and it’s not at all useful for the audiences they’re targeting. It’s just another match in the game of numbers and users.
But the content that was most successful? It was the content deemed most human, and created with the intention of an experience and not just a click.
Communicating in a human way means speaking to me — A person. It means speaking to Madeline, who lives in California and who moved here from another country, who is probably a bit busy, who is interested in kitchen gifts to give her mum for Christmas, who doesn’t eat meat and who loves a glass of wine in the evening. Being spoken to as a human is the difference between feeling like a person and feeling like a user.
What a quality experience looks like to me: Well-curated and high-quality products or services. Speaking to my interests in a personalized way. Sounding like a human speaking to another human.
Communicating to me as a user means speaking to a number on an analytics dashboard, to someone who’s anxious, maybe a bit bored, who is easily distracted, who doesn’t actually care that much about Meghan Markle, and who already has far too many tabs open on her web browser.
What a bad-quality experience looks like to me: Every ad that has ever appeared in my Facebook feed.
Speak to the person, not the number. Support quality over quantity, and cut through the click-bait.
So how can brands provide a memorable experience by talking to their customers as people instead of numbers? Let’s use Pinterest as an example.
Pinterest is a platform that can communicate your brand in a meaningful and memorable way. Your brand can immediately benefit from its people-centric UX design, and it’s a place for brands to establish an authentic voice in front of an audience of interested humans. It’s host to a high volume of content yet the experience always feels relevant and meaningful to me: A person.
Sow how does Pinterest do it, and how can this help you?
Pinterest feels human. Therefore, brands on Pinterest feel human.
Have you ever noticed Pinterest’s user interface and intuitive experience? No? Exactly.
The best user experience is usually one you don’t notice. It may not be as gratifying for the folks who designed it, but a frictionless user experience means it’s a great human experience. The attention to detail throughout the Pinterest platform translates to an exceptional experience when customers are discovering your content.
This is unique to the Pinterest platform as Pinterest is already a hub for inspiration and the discovery of new things. Your message is received more clearly when it’s not competing against the photos of your bestie’s newborn or colleague’s vacation.
This also leaves more room for the important stuff; your content and your voice.
Pinterest sounds human.
As Pinterest is an image-first platform, the copy behind the user experience plays a quiet yet crucial role. It guides a spectacular experience on site without drowning out the important stuff.
However take a peek at the Pinterest Newsroom or careers page, and you see the warm and playful tone shine.
Pinterest is a curation tool before it’s a creation tool.
This is important. Pinterest’s model of discovery means pins are continually found, saved, and shared. I’ve created pins for brands that see people saving them months, and even years later.
Leveraging the Pinterest experience means you’re contributing to the mindful discovery of great content — months and years down the track.
Why is this awesome for you? Your content strategy doesn’t have to involve four original posts published every day in the hope of achieving a moment of screen time.
And if your content strategy does involve four original posts published every day? Your already-stellar content output will have a higher shelf-life than it would on other platforms, all because Pinterest has prioritized this type of discovery and experience.
(This also means, you should be careful with your typos because a misplaced apostrophe could haunt you for years.)
Pinterest has the numbers.
Luckily, Pinterest isn’t just a virtual corkboard of nice pictures. Here are some handy stats about the Pinterest community, taken from their blog:
- 52% of US millennials use Pinterest. (So much for Snapchat being the next big thing.)
- 67% of Pinterest users say they’ve discovered a new brand from business content.
- 50% of new sign-ups are men. (Should we call this the Queer-Eye effect?)
- 87% of Pinners purchased something because of Pinterest.
Some other brands doing the “humans, not users” thing well:
Warby Parker — As a creator of sophisticated eyewear, Warby Parker is all about the finer details. I find surprise microcopy like this such a treat. (I’m also such a nerd.) Why do I love it? Someone thought beyond the moments of my glasses being purchased, to the moments I would first wear them.
OkCupid — I absolutely adore this campaign. Though I’ve only seen it in print and not on a screen, this content captures modern day dating spectacularly. A lot of Tinder fails took place in the making of this content. This campaign takes dating away from a tech-first experience and makes it the human-first experience it always was.
Final thoughts on the ocean of meaningless content being sent to my devices every day:
I’m sure it’s not just me who feels they’re drowning in an ocean of useless content and bad product experiences. This is why using the right language is important and can significantly change your customer’s emotional connection to your brand.
I’m passionate about copy because I believe a product that treats (and speaks to) their customers as a human can bring about real and positive change.
Cheap views and quick clicks might help the bottom line right now, but the content being talked about years from now is the content that feels authentic. Because at the end of the day, that’s all we are: human beings, talking to other human beings.