November 12th, 2014

UX Innovation in Digital agencies Part 1

Delight users with innovative user experiences 

As more and more brands understand the value of user experience (UX), many are ready to harness this knowledge to experiment and innovate.

The key to UX innovation is answering the question “how can we add value to users’ everyday lives and create a lasting impact on how they react to digital experiences?” Most digital companies struggle to strike a balance between UX enhancements and commercials.

1A

Let’s take the example of Facebook: it has achieved a stronghold on social media with a huge database of regular users. Every incremental change that Facebook deploys is now intrinsically linked to commercial gains. We are inundated with targeted ads on our newsfeed and Facebook’s algorithms cleverly work to dictate the data that is put in front of us.

If you think about it, Facebook is a complete encroachment on your privacy. However, for a large – and realistically speaking, vast – majority of its 1.32 billion+ monthly active users, this is a small price to pay for the benefits, which to many, far outweigh the inconvenience of seeing a swarm of ads on the page. Especially if the ads are for products you actually might want to buy.

For now it looks like Facebook is a leading social media channel but with the growing popularity of other social channels like Instagram, Facebook’s monopoly may soon be limited and user experience will dominate.  

To me, innovation in UX is not just about meeting the user’s expectations, but surpassing them. It’s the sheer delight a user gets when interacting with the design features, then keeps returning through their own choice. A good design and an engaging user experience should be at the heart of UX innovation and nothing else.

The challenge we need to address is that of  how to make things simple and enjoyable for the user to ensure that they keep coming back to our experience.

Another facet of this challenge for UX designers is how to create a clean design without compromising on functionality and features.

Path-breaking ideas also pose a challenge to the client: the idea sounds great but it’s very risky from a commercial perspective.

Come to think of it though, if you create a delightful user experience that surpasses all expectations and adds value to users’ lives, why wouldn’t you pay for it?

UX innovation – good example

Recently I came across the Virgin America website redesign, which I will use as an example of UX innovation in how users book their air travel.

In my opinion, booking travel tickets online is a mundane task and one completed out of necessity not joy (I actually try and avoid it where possible).

Virgin America has created a shift in users mind set from seeing this as a boring activity and has created a delightful experience, where users are fully engaged and consumed by the digital experience, taking the pain away from online travel bookings. New big and bold design of the website limits errors and visually engages the user through the booking process. Use of avatars, icons and GIFs add the much needed fun element to the website. The subtle form validation interactions make the whole process easy and relaxed. All these little UX improvements add so much value to the site and create a very rewarding experiencing for the user.

So what does UX innovation mean to your agency or business? How do you ensure it is incorporated in the digital product development lifecycle?

In the next post of UX Innovation in Digital Agencies series, I’ll talk about a few techniques, which digital agencies can adopt, to make UX innovation part of the project development lifecycle.

 

 

About the author

Mandavi is responsible for creating beautiful and usable user experiences. She is particularly interested in mobile commerce and responsive design.