Posts Tagged ‘pervasive user experience’

Is “Mobile First” technology or behaviour?

Posted on: April 2nd, 2013 by Fransgaard 2 Comments

Photo used with permission from Tokyo Fashion, thanks.

One of the biggest challenges for UX professionals is explaining that User Experience is not the same as User Interface Design.

The term Mobile First is facing similar challenges. Does Mobile First really mean a responsive user interface developed initially to work on mobile devices for then to add elements as the screen estate grows bigger?

Or is Mobile First really a behaviour?

A recent article written by Mark Freeman from Movement for The Guardian asks “Is mobile really ‘first’?” and it questions whether the fanatical quest for making everything responsive really is the right way?

Indeed, the desktop sometimes has advantages over mobile. One size does not always fit all, and taking this approach could close off some creative avenues and lead to homogeneity.

He is right. Mobile optimized interfaces isn’t the best option by default. It comes down to the behaviour. Why is the user here in the first place?

I think Mobile First isn’t about mobile devices, technologies or mobile interfaces.

Mobile First is about the behaviour the increasingly pervasive Internet is giving us, yes, through our mobile devices but also through digital touch-points in public space,  digitally enhanced physical experiences and even presentation of physical objects digitally for convenience.

Mobile First is describing how we are becoming always connected and the Internet is increasingly with us (part of us?) in every aspect of our lives.

User Experience Design in a Social Enterprise Environment: A Consistent Experience

Posted on: February 8th, 2012 by Fransgaard No Comments

The original version of this article can be seen at the award-winning Capgemini – Capping IT Off blog.

In the previous article User Experience Design in a Social Enterprise Environment: Connecting The Dots I covered how to look more holistically at the building blocks of a Social Enterprise to make it a single coherent experience.

In this article I will be looking at how to create consistency that extends beyond the corporate firewall and into the public web.

An equal brand experience for all

A difficult aspects of all social media initiatives is keeping a consistent brand experience in customer-facing environments. One of the more visible proofs of failure are employees posting something unfortunate via their personal social profiles or even via a corporate account.

But there are more deep-rooted issues as well:

  • How can the visual identity be delivered through a Facebook page that only allows a minimum of graphic changes?
  • How can a customer be sure the corporate Flickr account indeed IS the official account?
  • How can customer expect the same consistent experience every time they get in contact with the company?

Brand education and corporate values are there to provide support to the marketing, PR and other customer-facing professionals so they can communicate the right message and shape the right brand perception, but it is no longer enough.

Today we all work in PR

Historically this type of brand training/ support was only relevant to people expected to interact with customers, but the world has changed and today every employee represents the company, not just the ones with job titles that say they do and not only during work hours.

It is the future of how we work. The lines of when we are at work and when we are not are increasingly being blurred and representing the company we work for everywhere we go is becoming part of our lives.

Some companies require employees to state on their personal social profiles that they represent personal opinions and do not represent the company, but this legacy clause do not face the reality: Everything an employee writes reflects on the company, disclaimer or not.

But without a sufficient understanding of the brand and the corporate values, how can employees be expected to convey the brand message accurately and consistently?

A brief introduction to the corporate values during the induction is no longer enough.

The Social Enterprise as the brand tutor

The Social Enterprise, being an ambient entity, can facilitate brand education like no other organisational structure can on an on-going basis. But in order to do so it is important to create a consistent user experience that conveys a unified company:

  • Don’t settle for the default interface designs of the different systems. Modify it to create a coherent user experience across all systems.
  • Apply the corporate visual design uniformly as much as possible across all systems.
  • Ensure the design looks profesisonal and that it is consistent with the customer facing web presence of the company.
  • Reinforce the corporate values, not just by slogans, but by getting senior management engaged with the employees. A simple “like” on a post from a VP or the CEO is a powerful steer.

Ongoing brand awareness education across all levels of the organisation is key to a great customer experience because all employees are familiar and comfortable with the corporate identity and can convey the brand in an accurate and confident fashion.

But what do you think?

Please share your thoughts and feel free to suggest a subject for the next article on how to make a desirable and productive user experience across the social enterprise.

Designing a successful social user experience across channels

Posted on: October 17th, 2011 by Fransgaard No Comments

The original version of this article can be seen at the Capgemini – Capping IT Off blog.

One of the challenges faced deploying any social strategy is taking it from theory into a live environment. Reality is often different than theory and users never behave as expected.

A sample customer journey

A woman has moved and is now installing her broadband in her new home. She installs it as per the manual but it is not working. Fortunately the woman has Internet on her smart phone and goes to the providers help forum. She searches for an answer but doesn’t find one immediately so she logs in with her customer details and posts her query and leaves to do some shopping.

Sounds reasonable, right?

From a strategic engagement point-of-view this customer journey covers the ability to give the customer the option to post her question to an environment of her choice using a method of her convenience.

For the marketing department the customer journey gives the customer good touch points with the brand opening up for cross-selling opportunities to be explored.

And for the web designers and developers this customer journey gives them a good overview of what needs to be designed and developed to give the customer the interface she needs.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is nobody would do this in a real life situation. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself. Imagine for a moment your broadband is not working.

Now pick up your Internet-enabled mobile phone, don’t just imagine this part, do it for real. Open your mobile browser. What is the first thing you do? My guess is you opened a search engine such as Google.com to search for your broadband provider’s website.

This step, opening the search engine, was not covered in the user journey described above. Whether it was forgotten or just assumed doesn’t matter. The importance of this step from a pervasive user experience point-of-view cannot be overestimated. If the providers site do not show up in the results of the search engine the whole scenario is dead in the water… or worse; it leads to a competitor’s site offering to help by switching provider.

And it gets worse…

Reading the scenario backwards it becomes clear the woman has been planning to go shopping rather than sit at home and fight the wires to connect her broadband. It is a grudge task she really don’t want to waste time on.

The scenario assumes the customer know her customer login details but how many people know their broadband customer login details? No, they are not the ones used to log on to the WIFI.

Given our customer in the scenario just moved, chances are she really have no idea of where these may be hidden. She may even have thrown them out during the move. And she really don’t want to spend time finding out as she wants to go shopping.

In fact, we must assume that some customers are not even aware they have these in the first place. So in effect this login process becomes another practical show-stopper.

The solution is rather simple: Make sure the customer can login using other means either by registering separately on the forum or by using social login features such as Facebook Connect, Twitter Anywhere or OpenID.

10 tips to creating a successful cross-channel social user experience

Making sure a pervasive user experience holds together presents some unique challenges but overall it is not much different from an on-site user experience.

  1. Don’t confuse business requirements with user research. Requirements sees the world from the company while user research looks at the world through the eyes of the customers. The two need to come together in a holistic user experience.
  2. Test with real users not just business stakeholders.
  3. Use prototypes to avoid exposing live environments to real customer situations.
  4. Use real environments. Don’t use a computer to represent a phone call or a mobile browsing experience; use a phone.
  5. Keep testing loose to allow test subjects to reveal paths not already considered and listen when they do.
  6. Maintain a consistent brand exposure. This can seem tricky when introducing external environments like Facebook, YouTube etc with limited visual control. Use what is available and remember to keep a consistent tone-of-voice as copy may be the only element you have full control over.
  7. Clear and consistent contact options. Having clear help options serves as much as a way of giving the users confidence to continue on their own as they know they have a panic button if they get stuck.
  8. Do not ignore non-digital channels such as phone calls, postal letters or shops.
  9. Don’t trust theory. Always validate.
  10. Don’t trust what has been done before. Always validate.