Doing business in the digital world is a demanding challenge. As marketers, we now must communicate with a new kind of audience; an audience that consumes a different kind of content in very different channels.
This forces us to think differently about how and where we tell our brand stories. This is where experience design becomes a core business practice for innovation and better user experiences.
What is an Experience Designer?
I'm often asked, "What is an Experience Designer?". The answer is part marketer, part creative, all behaviorist.
Experience design is the humanization of marketing communications, not for users or target audiences, but for people like you and me. We tell stories about products, services, processes and environments in a way that is personal, relevant, and meaningful to people.
Whether in the office or classroom, on a desktop computer, on the BTS, or on a mobile phone. The right content in the right context is a win for your brand and the people you’re speaking to.
An Experience Designer closes the gap between data insights, marketing and creative storytelling. Someone who looks at all aspects of a brand, product, or ad campaign and asks, "how will people really feel about this?"
What is UX Design?
User Experience Design is experience design when it pertains to digital and interactive products. Launching an app? Website? Digital activation? This is when UX comes in handy.
The practice of UX focuses on how we explore and design what the experience will be like when your audience interacts with your product or service—before, during and after it’s designed, developed and released to the public.
UX is both science and art. A UX Designer will work with your marketing team, your IT department, your developers, and your creative team. They will have a part in market research, content development, data analysis and more.
They will perform ethnography research, create wireframes and prototypes, run usability testing and have a part in planning development schedules. They will coordinate with your design teams, and your IT team, track goals and work with you to take your product from concept to launch.
So, part digital marketer, part UI designer and part project manager, all with the ultimate goal of connecting business objectives to your audience’s needs. That’s a lot to handle!
Not a Jack-of-all-trades
While a UX Designer’s role is multi-faceted and works alongside many organizational departments, they are happiest and most effective when collaborating with business teams to identify the best experience for users through research, testing and iteration of the product.
A UX Designer underlies marketing, IT, and design departments. He (or she) is there to learn, test, inform and facilitate business teams to collaborate and produce the best digital brand experiences for your audience.
Why do you need a UX specialist?
A UX Designer brings value to business and audience alike through a deep understanding of the user and the provision of a desired experience. This does not pertain only to digital interfaces but every experience your audience has with your product or service.
Your website, mobile app, social media content, retail point-of-sale, and even TV and print communications are all touch points that have a positive (or negative!) impression on your audience’s experience with your brand. A UX Designer is trained to view these touch points as a holistic ecosystem that engages, provides value and meaning and connects business goals and audience needs through a unified brand experience that matters to people.
Take Apple, for example. As one of the most influential brands in the world, they’ve embraced UX as a core value of their brand promise. From the TV commercials to their retail experience to their events; throughout their marketing, Apple has told us an experiential story that not only engages, but becomes reality when we hold the iPhone in our hands.
So, perhaps a better question to ask is, "Why wouldn't we need a UX Designer?"
Start small, go big
For many, implementing a UX process in an organization can be a daunting, and often, disruptive task. It might require a fundamental shift in how organizational roles and departments co-operate, how you take a product or campaign from concept to launch, and how you identify KPIs and measurements of success.
That’s a big ask, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. A UX process can be instilled through small, incremental changes. For example, rather than a complete redesign of your company’s website, a UX Designer can tackle key measurable areas, such as a shopping cart checkout page or a mobile app registration form. Through iterative testing and measurement, you’ll quickly see the results of a UX-led project on a smaller, measurable scale.
The results of these smaller-scale projects will surface other areas where UX Design can add value to your organization. Areas that will bring a positive impact to your bottom line and slowly, but surely establish a UX process as an integral part of your business’ success.
Now, let's take a look at Airbnb. Arguably, one of the greatest market disruptions in the world (also see Uber). Airbnb has changed the hospitality industry forever. It's not only in the service, but the brand promise of experience. Airbnb has launched a product that has grown into a hugely successful business—forcing a multi-billion dollar hospitality industry to rethink how they operate—all under the radar. But how? They started small, focused on the experience and continuously iterated on the product offering. Today it's difficult to remember a world where they haven't existed, but think about this: Airbnb was founded only in 2008.
Today, and the future, will be increasingly dominated by mobile, multi-screen and omni-channel marketing influenced by consumers, like you and me, who choose a product or service based entirely on meaningful experiences: on how we feel. Establishing a UX process in your organization allows you to anticipate communication and experiential challenges before your product is released, supports ongoing marketing and business decisions, and provides a launchpad for business innovation, differentiation and growth.
Today, and the future, will be increasingly dominated by mobile, multi-screen and omni-channel marketing influenced by consumers, like you and me, who choose a product or service based entirely on meaningful experiences: on how we feel.
Establishing a UX process in your organization allows you to anticipate communication and experiential challenges before your product is released, supports ongoing marketing and business decisions, and provides a launchpad for business innovation, differentiation and growth.
Remember, your audience always has options. So do you.