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Good User Experiences Create Passionate Users

January 14, 2007
by Matt Braun

Want to get your customers excited about your brand?

We all love to have a good experience when purchasing a product or service. When we hear about wonderful experiences that others have had, it can cause us to think about what life would be like if ours were more like theirs. And when we have a great experience ourselves, we invariably want to tell others about it.

The goal of user experience design, as applied to creating websites, is to make best use of the interactivity and multimedia capabilities available to increase the overall satisfaction of your site's visitors. Creating the best possible user experience lets your customers know that you're a brand they can trust and take pride in being involved with.

When a person is using your website, your brand's message should be communicated through even the minutiae, from choices of type and photography, to the vocabulary used in the body copy. The impression that your site's users get from your brand must be good, because they'll be pairing that impression with their experience on your site. Correspondingly, this experience must be equally as good as, if not better than, the impression they get from your brand. To help facilitate this, we should limit the amount of friction that exists for your users to accomplish their goals on your site to the absolute lowest levels.

Let me say that again, because it's so crucial and too often overlooked: Limit the amount of friction for your users to accomplish their goals on your site. This is a key concept of a good user experience. While branding your site is incredibly important, ensuring that your users are able to fulfill their goals in using the site is critical. The whole of the experience, from the visual design to usage scenarios, should be well thought out and devoid of causes of frustration.

While there's no simple formula for creating passionate feelings for your brand in the people that interact with it, there are numerous examples of brands like Amazon, Apple, and Adobe, who are getting it right and are worth taking note of.

Amazon.com

Amazon.com screenshotOver its lifetime, Amazon.com has evolved to be very good at user-centered usage scenarios. The software that drives the website analyzes a person's browsing and buying patterns, and rapidly begins to make suggestions based on these actions. Amazon is uncannily good at making recommendations focused on the types of products you might be interested in, and this becomes more and more apparent on subsequent visits. This kind of system, which focuses on catering to each individual the way a local bookstore might if the clerks knew his or her preferences, is highly successful at achieving the goal of decreasing friction and giving people what they want. Ultimately, this translates to an enjoyable experience.

Apple.com

Apple.com screenshotIt's difficult to pinpoint exactly when the desire to change manifested itself, but for many who have recently made the switch from the Windows PC world to the Apple Macintosh it began with the iPod – or was it those clever, funny television ads? Perhaps it was seeing an associate with one of the new clean, friendly looking MacBook laptops with their familiar Intel processors. Regardless, Apple, Inc utilizes every possible avenue of its marketing strategies to create buzz and invite people in to see the rest of the brand's offerings. By using unified messaging across their marketing media, from their TV ads and product literature to their website, customers feel comfortable and confident interacting with the company. Their website, while vast in depth under the surface, is thoroughly thought out and easily navigable, making it highly approachable. This can be a breath of fresh air to the previously mentioned "switchers," who are often used to feeling a bit lost in the inherently complex sounding and more technical PC world. Good user experiences are inviting, inclusive, and give people technical information when they're interested, but don't overwhelm them when they're not.

Adobe.com

Adobe.com screenshotComputer software manufacturer Adobe, creator of graphics manipulation, video editing, and rich internet application authoring tools, makes full use of their extensive collection of products to tailor informative experiences for site visitors. Almost every product line and company concept is given a video overview with interactive elements, allowing an interested customer to learn about them in immersive multimedia. Their homepage prominently features a regularly rotated (and often randomly selected per visit) product, along with secondary and tertiary product features and solutions, all of which serve to funnel users to valuable information and actionable content (the goal of which is to cause them to make a purchase). The site makes heavy use of the company's Flash Player technology, but degrades gracefully for those without access to Flash by showing alternate, static image content. The experience for these users, while less animated, is still visually attractive and ultimately serves the same purpose. When crafting a great experience with multimedia, consider your audience; be certain to make accommodations for exception cases, but also make sure the experiences are generally similar.

The user experience potential available on the web is currently only in the beginning stages of being tapped into. While some companies are moving beyond simply "webifying" their brochures and print materials, many have not yet seen the web's capacity for improving user satisfaction and loyalty. There is still exponential room for improvement.

Magnate Interactive is passionate about creating passionate users for your business. To learn about how we can help, be sure to contact us for more info.

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