Thoughtfulness goes a long way when trying to make a person feel special. Think about how you feel when someone takes the time to understand where you’re coming from. It’s nice, isn’t it? Thoughtfulness can enhance any relationship, and that includes the ones you have with your customers. In fact, by being mindful of where your customers are in their journeys, you can create amazing experiences rather than the standard “good” ones.
What Makes a Good User Experience?
The first step in creating better experiences is understanding what defines a good user experience. In short, a good experience must serve the basic and immediate needs of your user.
You can’t just guess what these needs are and roll with them. You must perform some basic UX research to gather qualitative and quantitative data. This data can then be applied to the design process to better meet the needs of your audience.
How to Take Things from Good to Great
Typically speaking, UX designers do a pretty good job of creating good experiences. It’s what we do. But it’s one thing to deliver a good experience and another to create an amazing one. That’s probably because it takes a lot of research, testing, implementing and modifying to create experiences that go above and beyond the traditional benchmark.
We challenge you to start thinking more in terms of thoughtfulness. It’s a simple concept, but if you apply it in the UX design process, it can make a huge difference in the experience you deliver.
Because being thoughtful means that you will make design choices based on the user’s emotional state of mind. When the user sees that your design has that something extra that makes them feel good, their experience will go from good to great.
Is This Going to Take a Lot of Work?
Thoughtfulness doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to write witty jokes or reveal a shocking statistic that makes readers spit out their Cheerios. All you have to do is look for subtle ways to remind the user that they matter. For example, you can tell them to have a good day or ask how they are doing. You can share a random fact or countdown to the weekend.
Let’s dive into some of the ways that you can create amazing, thoughtful experiences that start at the design level.
Build Thoughtfulness into the Fabric of Your Design
You wouldn’t bake chocolate chip cookies and add in the chips at the end. You need to mix them into the batter from the very beginning. Thoughtfulness is kind of like that. If you don’t apply it early on, it won’t have nearly the impact.
Whether it’s a brand new website or a site re-design, it’s easy to add more thoughtfulness at this stage of the game. Identify opportunities where you can connect with users. Aside from applying the research you have gathered, don’t forget to immerse yourself in the world of the user. If you were a customer, what would you like to see? What could make the difference between staying on the site or leaving?
Map Out the Customer Journey
To help you better understand the different emotions that your customer experiences during their life cycle, map out their journey. Designers often focus on just a few aspects of the life cycle, but they don’t account for what happens before and after. If you can imagine what your customer would be doing during these times, you can create an experience that is consecutive rather than separate.
Let’s say that you own a business that sells life insurance. Most people do not just wake up in the morning and say, “I think I’ll buy some life insurance today!” While it’s true that life insurance becomes more necessary as people age, there are certain life events that motivate people, such as having a baby or losing a loved one.
Think about the person you’re trying to reach and expand on how they are feeling. If you’re appealing to the 30-something-year-old with a new family, what state of mind are they in right now? Excited but slightly overwhelmed? In love with their family, but scared for the future? Don’t just sell an insurance policy. Walk with your customer from Point A to Point B.
Once that person takes out a policy, consider how they may be feeling afterward. What questions might they have? What should they if they buy another home? Have another child? Start a new career?
Give the Design Some Personality
What type of personality should an insurance company have?
It’s probably not a good idea to crack jokes or use a lot of sarcasm because it’s a more serious industry. Instead, it’s better to be warm, understanding and compassionate. Show users that you recognize their position. Taking out a life insurance policy involves a lot of “what if” thinking – and not in a good way. Be considerate of these needs. Of course, you don’t need to go overboard. The goal is to convey that you’re human, not that you can’t hold it together.
Reward Users Along the Way
Life’s always sweeter with rewards. You can set a more positive vibe to your design by rewarding users on their journey. When they do something, such as fill out a form or answer a few questions, acknowledge what they’ve done and provide them with an appropriate reward.
The reward doesn’t have to be in the form of money or discounts, either. You can share a fun fact, a heartwarming picture or a simple smiley face. The key is to give your user positive feelings, and then piggyback off them to make the emotions stronger.
Summing it Up
Set the bar higher when it comes to your user experience. Do you really want to provide your users with something acceptable or decent? Probably not.
As the competition around you deepens, you will need to find simple, subtle ways to set your experience apart from the rest. Many times, people can’t put a finger on why they like a particular company more than another. They just do. Usually it’s because the company has found a way to be thoughtful of their customers and successfully arrange content, messaging and design around the emotions and needs of the user.