“Sam or Steve?”
This is the question I find myself asking our clients quite often to uncover their philosophical position on their digital initiatives. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, has a simple approach: offer a discounted experience for a discounted price. Steve Jobs’ approach is to create a premium experience for a premium price.
You could argue that both business philosophies are valid, but they don’t both work when it comes to delivering a digital experience. I argue that a poor digital experience costs more money than it saves – it’s far too easy for a customer to just click away from a bad digital interface.
I rarely encounter clients who ask for a discounted digital experience, but at the end of the day, they often introduce obstacles that prevent us from giving their customers a premium experience. One of the obstacles is always going to be budget. Clients are going to have the budgets they are going to have, but budget aside, there are ways we, the people behind the interfaces and experiences for our clients, can commit to creating exceptional digital experiences, no matter what the budget:
1. Every winning solution needs a maven. Be the maven. There’s got to be someone who is the advocate for the customer – who thinks like the customer and places the utmost importance on creating the best possible experience. If this isn’t happening on the client side, make it your responsibility.
2. Build empathy through insight. If there is nothing else you take away from this article, let this be it: you cannot create exceptional digital experiences for customers without actually talking to them and understanding their needs, goals, expectations and current experiences. Period. Surveys won’t do it. You have to sit with them, talk to them, watch them. This doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Find 5-7 customers and sit with them while they interact with your application. I promise you’ll learn invaluable information that guides the direction of your project, or even shifts the direction completely – in the right way.
3. Don’t just design–excel at design. Keep this checklist and every time you create an interface make sure it is:
- Adaptive: The system should learn the individual, not the other way around.
- Beautiful: I could go on about the number of ugly interfaces out in the world today. Make it elegant and pleasing to the eye.
- Opaque: People should not notice the technology.
- Intuitive: Make the interface understandable with little-to-no training.
- Approachable: Don’t let your interface scare people away with complexity.
When we focus on the customer and create with empathy – when our clients’ digital experiences are exemplary, they will see huge cost benefits, including increased conversions, reduced maintenance, higher customer loyalty and reduced customer service calls. Not to mention the softer costs associated with a positive brand perception.
So, I’m making a plea: Build Exceptional Digital Experiences. We have the capacity, the skills and the expertise to create great digital interfaces. Our legacy will be written by the human experiences we create.