Inspiring participation with intentional UX design

Inspiring participation with intentional UX design
By Colin Eagan and Jason Ely
Nov 17, 2022
Most user challenges are, fundamentally, design challenges. To overcome these challenges and authentically connect with your customers—delivering the elevated, personalized experiences they expect—brands must prioritize their UX strategy. This means blurring the lines between CX and UX and becoming consumer-obsessed to meet rising demands.

The world is more interconnected now than ever before, presenting brands with a unique opportunity. Do it right, and your praises can be heard echoing through the twitter-sphere as new business comes rolling in. But do it wrong, and your mistakes can be amplified just as easily, if not more, as consumers will quickly take to the internet to “@” brands to call out negative experiences. To make it in today's world, brands must constantly look for ways to streamline and improve their customer journey, holistically.

Test frequently to discover moments that matter

To address problem areas and pitfalls in your UX design, it is key to conduct ongoing user research and testing to uncover problem areas. This includes analyzing the data on how users are engaging with the brand to determine where the problem may be along the process and identify where and how the brand is otherwise keeping the consumer engaged.

Whether through internal resources or by leveraging strategic partners, it's important that tests are run within the company's digital experience while customer navigation analytics are tracked. Determining how they’re interacting with the experience, where they're going, what exit links they’re using to go to other properties, etc., will enable you to define the experience and establish a baseline.

Combining that testing approach in tandem with user journey mapping will help identify moments that matter, leading to optimized digital spend, enhanced experiences, and increased consumer engagement. Utilize the 80/20 rule—80% of the benefit can be realized by addressing the top 20% of user concerns —and avoid rushing in and doing too much too quickly. Instead, opt for small, iterative changes that do not upend the entire user experience in one swoop.

Integrating CX thinking into your UX to engage across touchpoints

To encourage active participation with your brand, the experience must feel seamless across all touchpoints of the customer journey. Lean into a holistic approach that uses consistent design language and copywriting across all touchpoints to make the experience flow seamlessly from desktop to mobile to in-person.  

Meeting customers where they are is mission-critical for brands—not just on their digital customer journey, but also where and how they are interacting with you physically. That means using what you know about customers through their data to empower them. Are they on a device? In a physical space? Using both? Consumers are giving you their data, and they expect elevated experiences in return.

Brands that succeeded throughout the pandemic leaned into the digital space as a place to make connections just as you would in the physical world, and consumers don’t expect that to change anytime soon. Use what you’ve learned in testing to proactively meet consumers at critical points along the process, similar to how an in-store employee might approach a customer paused at a rack.

Lean into technology to connect digital and physical

We’re seeing the integration of tech with in-person experiences more every day. A few years ago, it would have been revolutionary for a restaurant to have a QR code menu, but now it is nearly as common as a paper menu. And with mobile capabilities like location services and geotargeting, augmented reality, and even items like near field communication (NFC) tags popping up everywhere, brands have more opportunities than ever to create personalized, elevated experiences for their consumers.

Strategically leaning into these emerging technologies can help empower and enable your consumers to make smarter decisions, faster. With features like augmented reality, you no longer need to go into a store to see a piece of furniture or measure it to see if it fits in your space—instead, you can view it in your living room with your smartphone. Using geo-location and a mobile app, customers can complete their own hotel or healthcare appointment check-in, find items and guide themselves through your store, or use a variety of other self-service options.

Allowing consumers to take control of their experience lets them go at their own pace and allows them to get the right help when they need it—empowering them through a seamless experience across all their interactions with your brand.

Data is a symbiotic relationship —treat it that way

Customers are sharing more personal data than ever before, and they know it. That comes with expectations—not only to protect that data (which is table stakes), but to do something of value with it. 

Ensure you’re using the data you’re collecting to provide benefits for the customer. Start by doing some of the things mentioned above such as proactively reaching out, offering alternative experiences that add convenience, or empowering customers with self-service options. But don’t stop there: Ensure, at all times, that you are leveraging customer data in a way that is not only ethical but beneficial to your customer and your brand. Protecting and utilizing their data in all the right ways will result in a truly personalized, elevated experience that inspires participation across the entire customer journey.

ICF’s global marketing services agency focuses on helping your organization find opportunity in disruption.
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Meet the authors
  1. Colin Eagan, Colin Eagan - Partner, User Experience Strategy

    Colin is a user experience strategy expert with more than 10 years of experience in content strategy and information design.   View bio

  2. Jason Ely, Senior User Experience Manager

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