Increasingly, companies today are recognizing the need for user experience professionals to play a role in digital. However, most of these professionals are brought in to focus on a single product or project, such as a website or mobile application. The same attention that goes into making sure people have an incredible website or mobile application experience should be applied to the entire marketing and brand experience, but many marketers fail to realize this. Modern marketers need to become more knowledgeable about user experience design principals or – at very least – become familiar with some of the most commonly used heuristics for user interface design in order to apply them to all marketing experiences they are creating.
A Wired.com article, Why a New Golden Age for UI Design Is Around the Corner, highlights Disney as a company that understands and is hyper-focused on user experience, a fact that anyone who has been to a Disney park knows. In the article, Bill Buxton points out one of the reasons companies fail to create great experiences, stating “stop focusing on the individual objects as islands.” Marketing professionals need to follow this very same piece of advice. They need to stop thinking of every media type or channel as an island. They fail to take a step back to look at the entire customer experience across channels, and many even fail to do this just inside of the digital experience. Why? Based on my observations, it comes down to one of two things, laziness or lack of knowledge around technology capabilities.
To illustrate my point, I am going to use a recent experience I had looking to order new running shoes. I started by Googling the brand to which I have been loyal for the past few years, “Mizuno wave rider running shoes.” I found it interesting that Nike had the first ad. I am pretty loyal to Mizuno, but decided to click the link to Nike.com to see what they had to offer. For a split second, Nike had a chance to change my brand preference. Instead of capitalizing on the opportunity, Nike took me to a page that had a bunch of thumbnail pictures of running shoes. The experience from search to the page was horrible. Nike had around 3 seconds to capture my attention and try and convince me that their shoes were superior to the brand to which I was loyal. A few thumbnail images were not going to do it. They failed, and I quickly hit the back button.
Then, I clicked the link to the second ad, which was for FinishLine.com. Their ad called out my normal running shoe in the ad copy, saying “Shop the latest styles of Mizuno Wave Rider.” Much to my dismay, FinishLine landed me on a search results page that said “Not Found” and then provided error messaging that encouraged me to check my spelling. Another horrible experience that had me hitting the back arrow.
If the marketers at Nike or Finishline took to following a few of the 10 principles of interaction design created by Jakob Nielsen, they would have realized the experiences they were creating for their potential customers were poor. For example, Principle 5 – Error Prevention, states “Even better than good error messages is a careful design which prevents a problem from occurring in the first place. Either eliminate error-prone conditions or check for them and present users with a confirmation option before they commit to the action.” Both Nike and Finishline could have realized the experience they created failed this heuristic. They did nothing but encourage me to proceed down a path where I would be met with an error. The same could be said for Principle 6 – Recognition Rather than Recall, which states, “Minimize the user’s memory load by making objects, actions, and options visible.” Nike missed an opportunity to quickly make their sneaker option stand out against a competitor brand. Nike.com knew the exact phrase I put into Google when I landed on that page, and they should have had the landing page highlight why their shoe was better than Mizuno’s.
The above is just one example that many of us experience when we shop online. These experiences are created by marketers that are failing to connect media and channels to provide amazing experiences. Nike.com is a great website, but the experience they created for me from search to the website was horrible. The technology is there for Nike to create a great landing page, comparing Muzino to their running shoe to try and get me to switch brands. I even considered it for a few seconds. The experience, however, left me believing someone in their marketing department was lazy and thought it would be a good idea to bid on a competitor’s brand name in search to drive the user to Nike.com, only to provide a poor experience that one would have to assume will do an equally poor job at driving sales.