Dissecting the Phrase “Digital Experience Design”
There is no doubt that we’re living at a digital age, which is becoming more and more complex by the hour. Despite the many complexities and complications it can bring, it’s an exciting time for organizations that want to explore different ways to reach audiences, ways that weren’t possible just a few short years ago. However, simply supplying information into the global archive isn’t enough anymore. Organizations that really want a competitive piece of the digital market share in their industry, need to go well beyond the supply stage. They need to focus on the end user by crafting a, “Digital Experience Design.” This is a deeply researched, and strategically planned experience that is both remarkable and true to the underlying vision of the brand. In order to understand the key building blocks, let’s dissect the term.
On the surface this is the easy one to define. “Digital” are all things viewed on an electronic device. It gets a bit more complex when you consider how quickly that list is expanding. From the desktop and laptop computers of yesterday to mobile phones, tablets, television sets of today through to the heads-up display implanted directly into your cornea of tomorrow. Now add in that we are rarely ever designing for one device. Not only do we need to take multiple screens into account, but we also have to accommodate and, in some cases, encourage the consumption of our creations as a journey through multiple devices.
Just as your logo, messaging and company colors are a representation of your brand, so too is the digital experience you put out there in the world. If a person gets frustrated navigating your website, for example, what are the chances she is going to recommend you to a friend? The experience is a foundation for personal engagement and a significant determining factor in customer advocacy. People like to think of themselves as completely rational and facts-only decision makers, however the truth is that we are all emotional creatures who base their decisions on much more than what we consciously understand.
A large majority of people outside the discipline of design think designers are a bunch of overgrown kids who spend our days decorating things. While I will concede that we do typically have a healthy dose of childlike curiosity, this characterization is about as far from the truth as could be. At our core, we are problem solvers. Most projects start with a project brief or some similar document that outlines a challenge or an ideal outcome. This is the problem laid before us; there’s no roadmap, no instruction booklet, no clear path, just a challenge and a deadline. We do research, practice divergent thinking, ideate collaboratively, experiment openly and translate all the resulting insights and ideas into something that connects with those people that make up the target audience.
Knowing and wielding are two completely different things
So that’s Digital Experience Design and while today’s dissection was meant to simplify the phrase into a few digestible concepts, in practice it is a delicate balance of science and art. For instance, it’s a science to know which user flow produces the most conversions statistically and an art to know when to throw those statistics out the window and create a whole new flow. So, print out your goal on a large piece of paper, pin it to the wall in front of you and continually measure your creation against it to make sure that not only does the thing you're building conquer the users challenge but the experience itself connects with the users underlying needs.