Think big, really big, and look at a broader picture related to user experience to enable a dynamic story telling and sharing through digital interactions. Story telling format engages up to 7 areas of human brain, making stories more memorable than stats and facts.
‘Consumer and online users are increasingly interacting with various forms of communication through multiple platforms, devices and screens sizes: desktop computers, tablets, smart phones and soon even smart watches. It becomes a business imperative to provide them with a consistent high quality experience across all communication digital channels. New digital technologies and visual design trends offer businesses opportunity to bring innovative, engaging and effective media-rich brand experiences that support business objectives. A number of strategies, case studies, recommendations and best practices can be summarised in one overall direction that is key to a success in delivering effective digital communication: focus on user experience and design around it.
Creating an engaging and effective digital communication strategy for the online world that is over-filled with information requires thinking big, really big, looking at a broader picture related to user experience – one that enables dynamic story telling and sharing. It is almost like creating a digital culture related to a brand. There are global organisations that do it better than others – enabling strong meaningful emotional connections between consumers and brands through digital interactions. Examples include companies such as Apple, Coca-Cola, Burberry, LinkedIn, Addidas, Nike, Uniliver, Microsoft, Airbnb, Virgin Atlantic airlines, BBC, HSBC, Monocle, Huffington Post.
I have put together some key take aways from cross industry examples of digital designs that enable desired consumer digital experience.
1. Graphical User Interface
When designing for high quality digital experience, the graphical user interface should be separated from the content. Content is what appears within the interface design, instead of designing GUI around the content. This includes page layout for various screen sizes, as well as more specific objects such as buttons, forms and navigation.
2. Define your objectives first
Defining the objectives of a desired digital experience is one of the most important tasks at the beginning of any digital project. These should clearly identify the purpose of the site in order to provide directions to the design, content and web development teams: what is the primary purpose or mission for the desired experience, what are the secondary goals, how shall users interact with a digital vehicle, how to define successful user experience, what is the target audience, type of desired experience: such as informative, engaging, corporate, promotional, transactional, brand awareness. The objectives should be agreed with key project stakeholders and communicated across the team working on both design and content production.
Defining the objectives of a desired digital experience is one of the most important tasks at the beginning of any digital project.
3. Consider format of digital experience
Once objectives have been defined a digital vehicle should be considered: what will be the format, structure of vehicle driving the digital experience we are designing: a website, microsite, application, content rich-site, mobile site, landing page,or perhaps entire landscape of digital formats.
4. Responsive design
Working to produce responsive solution requires user interface experts and designers to think differently. A digital product needs to be designed with flexibility rather than for specific screen resolution; considering break points, grids, columns, performance, retina display compatibility, margins, orientation, scaling.
5. Testing with real users
Testing a digital experience with real users before launching is crucial to ensure maximised focus on user experience, expectations, online behaviours and changing trends. The online experience is part of any organisation’s brand. Content relevance, usability performance and security are all critical issues requiring proper testing. This include concept testing at the idea generation stage, design testing, usability testing, performance, security assessment, integration testing (how a site interacts with other systems), user acceptance testing following development.
6. Visual communication to tell a story
Visuals are one of the most effective ways users interact with digital communication. A powerful key visual that draws users attention is more effective than well crafted paragraph of text. It takes less than a second to form a first impression and a key visual element on a home page is the first brand user experience and as such must capture their mind. It should create a strong emotional connection and integrate the product as a central to the activity or occasion. Photographs, like their older cousins drawing and painting, rely on well-defined aesthetic concepts, composition and yes, also symbolism. This visual language is common, everyday, and all around us. Visuals communicate a message quicker and more effectively than copy.
A powerful key visual that draws users attention is more effective than well crafted paragraph of text.
The key visual should be utilised as the most dominant element in the content hierarchy and drive users action and impressions. The background in the key visual should be simple without adding complexity. The headline associated with the visual should be relevant and use the language commonly understood by users. It should remain simple and short. Select carefully orchestrated visual elements that make users associate with the brand: ” This brand is me.” The Graphical User Interface and powerful visual content need to be a balance in contrast.
In today’s fast paced and information overfilled environment, we must communicate our message in a concise and engaging way that sets it apart from the digital noise encountered. Visual content – such as info graphics and data visualisation can accomplish this. There is no denying that people find visual content appealing. Presentations, info graphics and motion design videos are just a few examples of visual content that can endear you to your audience.
Visuals get 94% more views than text-based information.
Infographics incase web traffic by an average of 12%.
Web users spend 100% more time on pages with visual content.
The human brain processes visual information 60,000 faster than text.
Photos, pictures and videos get over 100% more digital engagement.
Visuals increase retention by 42%.
Content with visuals and videos attracts three times more inbound links.