How to overcome UX challenges in the age of personalised experiences

Wed, 15/04/2020 - 10:42

In an age where everything we want is available immediately; getting users to choose your product is really difficult. Any good graphic design agency knows the byproduct of focusing on user experience should be better creative web design, higher Google rankings, greater engagement and, for commercially minded organisations, more sales. Creating a good user experience begins with really knowing your user. 

How well we know visitors leverages off the data we gather, real market consumer knowledge and testing. Once we have this knowledge, we can use it to forge stronger relationships and solidify brands for customers. A great tool to achieve this goal is personalisation. Creating personalised experiences can throw any user advocate astray. This article will focus on a few personalisation ‘quick wins’ to achieving the best results in personalisation.

What is personalisation? 

Personalisation is when you create a custom experience for the visitor, either with specific content or functionality based on the user’s wants and needs. 

Why would you want this?  

Visitors interacting with your site are in constant competition for attention, not just local to the device like competitor sites, but external distractions like cell phones. When experiences are tailored, one tends to feel in control because the information aligns with your need/and or want. Control, in this instance, can be an illusion; however, being bombarded with information or overloading us with irrelevant information can be vexing. It can cause a visitor to lose interest with your content for more stimulating content elsewhere. 

Humans are pros at filtering information. Our very survival depends on the part of the brain (the reticular activating system), where all information, except smell, is routed. Knowing all information is filtered through this space, how do we make users experiencing our product stay focused?

UX challenges 

In order to capture user attention, there are some basic techniques we can employ. Imagine being at a party and everyone is speaking, what are a few things that might grab your attention?

  • Getting users to pay attention 

When someone calls your name in the crowd, you immediately respond. This is the easiest way to gain attention. Emails have done this successfully for some time; entering {name} into subject lines is the simplest way to gain open rates. While it’s difficult to guess a visitor’s name on arrival, we can gain this information by creating accounts, requesting email addresses - then using this information when displaying notifications. 

  • Individualised personalisation  

Increasingly, we are seeing web design companies offering their users entire custom experiences. As an example “dark” and “light” mode is being presented within websites or software. Aside from being a design preference, ‘dark’ mode can assist users by exposing less light to the eyes. This is helpful at night when we require lower secretion of melatonin to aid sleep. One-to-one personalisation creates a positive experience for visitors, which encourages repeat use. 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to personalisation. It’s best to work with a team of UX experts to assist with researching your user base and their requirements. Once the technical scope is understood, create a branded design system. This would allow the software to accommodate the full required technical scope to handle users’ preferences. 

  • Custom messaging 

Your brain is hypersensitive to new changes and movements; this is why the little bubble that pops up that says “1 unread message” in the corner of the screen bugs us so much. Using the brain's sensitivity to novelty, we can utilise users' attention and guide them toward the prefered interaction.

An example of this type of customisation challenge is custom messaging. During the coronavirus outbreak, the Seattle Times used automation with an embarrassing result.

Seattle Times Example

To mitigate these types of errors, there needs to be a good understanding of both the user and the data which needs to be presented. “No thank you, I don’t want Coronavirus”.

  • Presenting the present 

Recommendation systems can be helpful when searching for the perfect dress for a wedding; having your search for “blue dress” offer you related content and styles you never considered might land you the perfect look. In order for this to happen, the website taxonomy needs to be well defined, and each product relationship or element relationship needs to be established. 

We need to make sure this is possible by defining the taxonomy. Tag every product with one or more terms from the taxonomy. This establishes the initial relationships between content elements or products. For example, the dress might tag as ‘Blue Dress’ as well as a ‘party dress’, then use that tag to recommend other products they’ve tagged as evening wear. A good CMS would help with this, at Rogerwilco, a web design company in Cape Town, we specialise in Drupal. Not only for its good modular customisation but its custom widgets put creative web design in the hands of the content creators. 

Personalisation, if done well, demonstrates a genuine interest in the customer. If personalisation is lacking, it can be expensive and cost potential business. The best recommendation would be to work with an experienced web design company that understands user-interface best practices, your brand, goals and the users who receive these. Using tools and processes to obtain information like Hotjar and Analytics, as well as iterative methodologies, will ensure users are always at the forefront of your product. 
 

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