4 tips to design an amazing customer experience

“Think less, but better”

Customer experience is the next frontier

Customer experiences are defining the next big business advantage. We’ve talked before about how design thinking can help you with that process, but it’s equally important to understand how other types of people are approaching this same challenge. So we turned to Medium to try and explore some of the best insights around creating outstanding customer experiences – this is a summary of what we’ve found.

Think products, not features

Nikkel Blaase has an interesting point of view on ‘Why Product Thinking is the next big thing in UX Design’. The argument is quite simple: because life’s too short to build something nobody wants, a product’s features don’t really matter unless you totally nail down the job your product is going to do for your user. So, think about the product’s ‘jobs to be done’, and only then think about which features will help accomplish that job.

In Nikkel’s words:

When thinking in products, UX designers should be able to answer the following questions first: What problem do we solve? (User problem). For whom are we doing this? (Target audience). Why are we doing this? (Vision). How are we doing this (Strategy) and what do we want to achieve? (Goals). Only then it makes sense to think about what exactly we are doing (Features).

We need to move beyond just building features so that we can build the right features. Which leads to insight number two…

Design to solve, not to impress

Understanding the ‘jobs to be done’ by your product or experience is another way of saying that design, ultimately, serves a purpose beyond aesthetics or impressing your colleagues. Good design solves actual problems. Forgetting that may lead to what some people call ‘The Dribbblisation of Design’.

In a nutshell, saying something ‘looks awesome’ may not be the best way to truly describe its value from a design point of view. Or as the author of the above article says, it can easily drive you to design “things that look great but don’t work well”. But how do you do that? Well, design makes its best impact when it comes from the top:

Design starts at the top of a company with the company mission. Then the company vision. It’s very hard to do great design in an organisation without a clear and actionable mission and vision. Don’t underestimate the importance of this. If your company lacks a clear mission, make it your job to facilitate the creation of one.

You can only define your jobs to be done if you truly understand the mission at hand. Framing problems in a different way helps:

We frame every design problem in a Job, focusing on the triggering event or situation, the motivation and goal, and the intended outcome:

When ___ , I want to ___ , so I can ___ .

For example: When an important new customer signs up, I want to be notified, so I can start a conversation with them.

User experience is not a department

So you’re a UX designer. You probably work within the UX team in your organisation, maybe you even lead certain projects. That’s definitely important. Now, here’s a bit of hard truth: UX needs to happen beyond your own department.

According to Justin Hanson, if you have a user-centric organisation, UX is something that truly goes beyond a departmental duty and embeds the entire company culture. Users become why the company exists, which means ‘user experience’ becomes part of what everyone should be contributing to. By baking the user experience into everything the company does, we’re much more likely to avoid a silo’d approach to user experience.

Think less, but better

Thinking about and executing on user experiences is a task defined by a relentless focus on simplicity. Yes, we work with a very wide range of inputs and bits of information that may or may not influence and direct the final outcome, but ultimately digital products and digital experiences are meant to be simple and, therefore, more enjoyable.

The advice originally comes from none other than famed industrial designer Dieter Rams: “Weniger, aber besser” (“Less, but better”), and it mainly suggests that we create more value by actually creating less things. Wouter de Bres has some advice in the form of a quick checklist which you can use for your next design:

  1. Have less features
  2. Give your users less choice
  3. Use less elements
  4. Use less styling
  5. Use less font sizes & types
  6. Choose light & bright colors
  7. Use proportions (e.g. 12, 24, 48)
  8. Use a grid
  9. Have clear visual hierarchy
  10. Consistency is key
  11. Don’t be afraid of obvious design solutions/patterns
  12. Whitespace is your friend
  13. Use your users language
  14. Only use animations when they serve a purpose
  15. Use a style guide as lego blocks

Stay ahead by re-thinking your customer experience

If you want to learn more about the importance of customer-centric products and how design can impact your business, download our free Design Advantage report.