We have recently seen an interplay between design and business strategy in the digital landscape. With key players setting the pace for how we can tailor design towards the user experience, we then ask, does it really make a difference?
Why Design with Strategy?
According to Tim Brown in Strategy by Design, “Strategy should bring clarity to an organization; it should be a signpost for showing people where you, as their leader, are taking them —and what they need to do to get there.”
Your purpose should be clear and take root throughout your organisation in order for you to add value to your design and connect it to actual strategy.
When you are clear about where you want to go and what you want to achieve, designing with strategy becomes an actionable concept that can be fully implemented and helps maximise your brand’s sustainability in the face of change.
Do you have a clear strategy in place? Does purpose drive your designs?
As we start the year, now is the time to revisit your UI and design framework and check if it aligns with your business’s core strategy.
To jumpstart this process, consider these key points.
- Shape Design over Buyer Personas
- Create a Customer-Centric Design Experience
- Use Time-Saving Features
- Create a User Journey Map
1. Shape Design Using Buyer Personas
Who are your users, and in what context will they be using your app or website?
Be as specific and in-depth about your customer profiles and the type of users who interact and engage with your website or app.
At Step Change, we make sure to tell our clients that it is crucial that they are clear about who their ideal customers are. This ensures us that we are designing and developing content that is relevant to these customers.
Doing so ensures you’re incorporating context into your design process. As a result, your customers are aware of exactly where they are in the user journey and know exactly what they need to do — which largely benefits your business in the long run.
“Focus on user needs and make them the focal point of your design process.” — Eryk Pastwa [Tweet this!]
When thinking about your users and their buyer profiles, consider the following in your design process:
- What are their behaviours?
- What are their goals?
- What information do they need?
- What influences their decisions?
- What are their pain points and their frustrations?
Answering these points beforehand helps you identify what information hierarchy you want to communicate to your audience and what end action measures success.
In the example web layout below, information is highlighted according to every user need and categorises every website package so they know exactly what they’re getting. Your users will appreciate the no-fuss approach and the clarity of the information presented.
Offering value in bite-size chunks will go a long way towards turning web visitors into customers. [Tweet this!]
Image from http://www.webmaxtech.net/
2. Create a Customer-Centric Design Experience
Web design trends today now put a prime on personalisation and maximising the user experience (UX design). This means looking into the psychological and emotional aspect of what your users need through a more customer-centric design. Using design thinking, optimise your platform around the needs and pain points of your end users and according to how they engage with your products and services.
Design for your end users and with their convenience in mind. Minimise clutter, provide a seamless user experience, and work on improving page-load times. Be in tune with their needs, and your conversions will follow through.
With 60% of site visitors coming from mobile, mobile optimisation is a must in order for your target customers to stay in the buyer’s journey from awareness to purchase.
Many in-app and web features today also promotes personalisation that tailors the experience according to the user’s age, content preferences, and purchases.
Responsive and adaptive web designs are also now taking centre stage for designers in the need to give users a seamless and fluid experience. Responsive designs adapt to screen sizes on different devices, which helps promote readability. These go a long way towards preventing display and performance issues that may discourage users from staying longer on your website.
Image from athityasoft.in
In mobile apps, examples of personalisation include accessibility features that allow the user to customise fonts and adjust colours to promote readability in apps.
Most app designs also now offer parental controls and consider the age of users in filtering content requests.
Other common personalisation features noted today are the integration of bots in chat and messaging to drive user engagement in-app or on the web through personalised messaging, quick responses to user queries, and replacing the age-old FAQ page. These smart bots also offer promotions according to logged user preferences and help promote easier in-app purchases.
3. Use Time-Saving Features
We expect design trends to continue to push more time-saving features through mobile and web that complement every user’s fast-paced lifestyle.
With the multitude of apps and websites that users have to contend with on a daily basis, one-tap and other log-in memory features are expected to be commonplace in new design features as well.
Facebook’s one-tap log-in feature is a great example of how users can seamlessly connect to their accounts without having to log in with their user email and password every single time.
4. Create a User Journey Map
Finally, the best way to incorporate strategy is to understand the user journey and design around it.
If you want to create an overall positive user experience for your customers, ensure they are satisfied with every point of contact.
Here’s an example of how you can use a customer journey map to identify ways you can improve every user touchpoint in your website which can be through live chat, blog comments section, FAQ page, calls to action, forms, and landing pages.
Analyse how satisfied your end users are though every touchpoint and find out if it's time to rethink your design strategy into one that is tailored to the end user.
Tying It All Together
In design, features and functionality can only do so much — but if you want to stand out and break down silos, you need to start with clarity of purpose and then deliver value that your users recognise in each and every stage of their digital journey.
Designing with purpose and incorporating strategy to your design framework elevates your design into a powerful tool that helps you achieve a benchmark for consistency and long-term value — a leverage you can use to always stay in sight and top of mind.
This blog article is part of the latest Step Change series, The Director’s Guide to Digital. Read the first blog post in this series to learn where CMOs should put their focus on this year.
Featured banner photo credit: wikimedia.org