The UX Bar is Rising
Creating an amazing user experience (UX) is something we’re deeply passionate about. Not too long ago, we had the distinct privilege of redesigning and developing the City of Saskatoon’s website. More recently, we built the new economic dashboard for the Ministry of Economy. When your digital project is inviting, simple to use and provides an exceptional UX, it delights your customer - and that is good for business!
Clients often approach their own website and digital requirements with a degree of scepticism. Not realizing a website is more than a marketing tool, at first glance, it may appear visually and functionally acceptable. But after a better understanding of the digital landscape, you’ll soon realize that you may be falling short of what your customers expects. Because your customers are using apps from Google, Facebook, Amazon, and others on a daily basis, yours needs to deliver the same user experience. The end user has does not pause to consider whether you’re a 10,000 person organization or 10 person startup, they simply move on and that results in lost opportunities!
The challenge you're facing is not unique
Technology is changing at such a rapid rate that it's fundamentally altering the way customers interact with businesses. Customer expectations are rising in parallel to UX expectations of digital projects. Websites used to be a source of basic company information, a few details about some products and services, and contact information with hours of operation was enough. Websites today are often full blown applications. They are a place to do things and not just view things. They allow you to perform all kinds of actions and transactions, saving you in-person trips or time on hold on the phone. Think about your last vacation. You can purchase a flight, book hotels, purchase travel insurance, check into your flight, make reservations to a restaurant and so much more, all without having to leave your desk or even speak to someone.
Next came the smartphone. Mobile opened up all kinds of new possibilities and companies rushed to the platform. The early days, however, were weak and misguided attempts to mimic traditional websites and make them accessible on mobile. Over time, the apps evolved into sophisticated applications and the UX bar rose. Apps became true product/service extensions that were designed around the needs of a person being mobile and on the go. They leveraged fast mobile data connectivity, increased processing powers, location data, and other technology to provide tremendous value while delighting the customers. With it, customers developed expectations of being able to do certain things from their phone with relative ease. Responsive web and mobile-first design went from being a nice-to-have to a de facto standard.
In the past year, you might have heard increasing mentions about things like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), natural language processing (NLP) and others. So what does this mean for your digital solutions? Put simply, it means the UX bar is going up again, and with it, so are your customer's expectations. ML and AI advances are allowing us to convert all of that "Big Data" into meaningful insights.
This means programs are getting smarter and can intelligently recommend things based on a user's past behaviours and a host of other data. People no longer want to search for things, they want relevant results to find them. It means smarter Netflix recommendations or timely and relevant product recommendations by Amazon.
It means there's an entirely new user interface (UI) for us to interact with digital tools - our voice. With connected devices such Amazon's Echo or the Google Home becoming more common and our cars becoming more sophisticated, we want to interact with technology by voice rather than tapping through multiple screens. We want to text a chatbot on our way to the airport to order travel insurance without using a "traditional" app or punching in our credit card information. It also means there are entirely new design and human interaction principles that need to be carefully considered.
From Innovation to Expectation
Companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, and others are innovating rapidly and applying these technologies into products we use daily. This subsequently has a direct impact on what we expect out of the digital products we are accustomed to using. So when users go to an app or website that doesn't offer a similar experience, the overall product feels subpar and the user is left wanting more. Very quickly they move on to the next website, mobile app, or business.
So as you consider your digital solutions, think about the experience they offer. How do they compare to the experience of Amazon, Facebook, Google or any of the other top-visited sites in the world? Sure you might be a very different and much smaller company, but when it comes to your customers and users, the expected experience is exactly the same.