How UX can bring your brand to life
As the list of opportunities to bring your brand to life expands, we take a look at how UX can supercharge your digital experiences.
So it’s looking like you’ll have to bear with another rogue analogy. I don’t like ventriloquist dummies. Ok, there it is. Now, I don’t have anything against the art form itself but they make me feel a little bit strange inside; especially when they’re not ‘performing’. Are they dead or scheming? Either way, this got me thinking about websites (Weird, I know) - they really don’t leave much to be desired when they’re static and lifeless either.
So, when vying for your customers’ attention every second of every day, how do you breathe life into your online presence - and your brand more specifically - in the same way as you might wake up a small, inanimate pseudo-person?
The answer I’d give is User Experience Design. “Why? Isn’t branding a Visual Designer’s job”, I hear you cry. You wouldn’t be wrong; but as consumers are influenced at every turn, what we know as ‘brand’ has ‘evolved to represent a broader set of experiences across all channels.’1 User Experience has become enmeshed in Brand and so, as a tool to influence customers’ sentiment and decisions, it pays to take note of the things you can do to improve your UX. If there’s any doubt, Forresters’ frequently-referenced research reported that companies that focus on User Experience can see up to $100 in return for each dollar they invest in UX design.2
What do we mean by the User Experience, then, in the case of Brands? To put it simply, it’s not just about the app, the campaign or the website; it’s about developing an empathetic and dynamic customer-centred perspective to position your business to overcome the next challenge.3 Cue the mandatory comment on how the pandemic changed every fibre in our bodies and the fabric of society. Nevertheless, we now expect more personalisation, more authenticity and engagement from brands than ever. To this end, UX is waiting in the wings to help your brand build and establish relationships with your audience. Let’s discuss a couple of the ways UX can help bring your brand to life and, to top it off, develop some ventriloquist dummy-repelling resilience.
"Are you talking to me?"
Have you ever had an awkward moment when you thought someone was speaking to you? Were they speaking to the person next to you? Or, wait, were they talking to themselves? Either way it’s awkward and, unless you’re good pals, it’s not the best start to a conversation and doesn’t bode well for a budding friendship.
In a roundabout way, I’m saying it’s important to know who you’re talking to and it’s important for your audience to know that you care about them. If, for instance, you are an eCommerce brand and your website attempts to recommend shoes to your customers, you want to make sure you’re making appropriate suggestions. If you don’t, users will get frustrated, feel as though your brand is not relevant to them, and leave. Get it right and you are in the money!
User Experience design helps you get to know your audience and speak their language. User research, for instance, can uncover those killer insights which drive conversions as responsive and personalised experiences motivate users to take action. Understanding what pieces of information and functionality solve your customers’ problems at various points in the customer journey will help you build trust and loyalty. Are your users at the beginning of their shoe-purchasing journey and they need help understanding the benefits of your hiking shoe or are they about to get their wallet out and need to find the right size?
I interact, therefore I am
Despite my cloddish appropriation of Descartes’ defining philosophical statement, ‘I think, therefore I am’, there is something to be said about a user’s ‘existence’ online. Without getting too philosophical, might the interactivity of digital experiences be said to confirm the users existence online. Either way, the world wide web probably doesn’t care too much; but you should. Interaction design is an effective way to improve the usability of your digital products, further establish your brand values, and build engaging and memorable experiences that connect with your customers. If you’re interested, check out what we think about UX and the importance of interaction design.
So where does UX come into it? Well, in this instance, it’s all about identifying opportunities to add creative flair. Understanding, through research and building a picture of your audience, where it is appropriate to focus on best practice and pure usability or lean into creativity that delights. For example, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to forms. There are recognised design patterns which users will get frustrated with if they don’t follow the same conventions - that could cost you conversions! Alas, if you’re designing a hero component for your homepage there’s certainly more room to experiment, express your brand’s personality and capture your users’ attention.
Take a look at how we brought a playful wine brand’s website to life with interactive user interface design.
One step at a time
Last but never ever least, focussing on User Experience design means your experiences are never fully formed. They’re continuously growing, improving and building new relationships with new customers. Putting your users at the heart of your decision making process means that you have to evolve with them. How are their behaviours changing?; what do they want and need?, and how can you adapt to meet their expectations?
Various UX design methods are well positioned to help you optimise your UX and ensure your online experiences remain alive and kicking. To rattle off a few, User Testing will help you identify pain points in your user experience, A/B Testing will help you identify design interventions which influence user behaviour, an Expert review will keep the health of your digital experiences in check in line with best practice and industry-recognised usability principles and continuous User Research will help you keep a finger on the pulse of your customers’ sentiment, behaviours and expectations.
As time passes, content changes, and trends emerge there is always an opportunity to build on your designs based on user feedback and data. That doesn’t mean data will kill your design and render creativity redundant. Instead, data can be leveraged to inspire your creativity by, for instance, providing constraints which, in fact, facilitate creativity. No-one likes starting with a blank page and insight gets you started by helping you choose the tools, the palette, and the medium. In essence, optimisation is the living, breathing bit - the ventriloquist if you will. After all, UX design isn’t a one off.
The bottom line is that there is an endless list of opportunities for you to bring your brand to life throughout your customer touch points. As digital continues to grow and evolve in keeping with your customers’ wants, needs and expectations, it pays to keep your ears close to the ground. To this end, embedding a committed approach to your User Experience is a sure fire way to uncover, prioritise, and optimise those opportunities to help you stay ahead of the competition.