In the rush to Web 2.0 and even Web 3.0, we sometimes forget that we can improve the little things that directly impact customer experience.
Seth Godin has railed in the past on this subject. His pet peeve? Pull down menus for filling in State information on standard form software. Seth is right. It takes far less time for me to enter in a two stroke state name abbreviation than navigating a pull down menu with fifty items on it. For that matter, zip code finders have been online since the early 1990’s. So why can’t there be a simple plug in or piece of code that allows a form to populate my form by entering in my zip code?
As users experience digital content across a number of different platforms (desktop, laptop, mobile, video game console, and more every day) these legacy issues become more prominent. Here’s another example for you. The NEW YORK TIMES is justifiably proud of their digital design initiatives (specifically designing sexy interfaces for their mobile and desktop applications). But the TIMES (and most other print publications) haven’t thought about the user experience beyond the initial platform. Here’s what a TIMES article looks like in the desktop interface:
It’s easy to read,with attractive fonts and graphics, and it does a good job of capturing the overall “TIMES aesthetic”. However, if I want to print this story so that I can read it later, the “printer friendly” interface looks like this:
Why have I gone from a visually attractive interface that employs state of the art UI to reams of boring text? It’s another legacy design issue. When the web first became popular, hardly anyone had a color printer, resolutions were poor (a lot of people were using dot matrix printers) and color ink was prohibitively expensive prohibitively expensive. Now days color laser printers are standard in most households. So why can’t my printout have the same graphic standards that the newspaper and web versions do? The answer is that there is nor reason for this kind of design to be standard anymore. But we’ve all become accustomed to seeing this “default” version of print documents that lowers standards across the board. Why not present options for your printed version? The old, boring plain text version or a rich, colorful, designed experience. Eventually, consumers will demand this choice. Smart companies get ahead of this curve rather than following it.
Seth Godin’s example and the one I cited above are just two of the many examples of simple tweaks that can make a user’s experience richer and more engaging. As marketer’s continue to design for multiple communications platforms we need to consider multiple outputs as well. In an era where consumers can customize everything from their startpage to their sneakers, “one size fits all” design will no longer be acceptable to customers.
Take a good look at your deliverables to your customers. Are there simple tweaks you can make to enrich their interaction with your company?