The global pandemic has heightened consumer expectations and accelerated digital transformation initiatives. According to recent research from McKinsey’s Global Survey of Executives, companies have accelerated the digitization of their customer interactions by three to four years and advanced the share of digitally enabled products in their portfolios by seven years.
The need for brands to deliver highly relevant and optimized digital experiences to their customers, prospects, and stakeholders has never been more critical. The challenge many marketing executives are challenged with is understanding where to start. Often, brands will jump into these initiatives by beginning to re-design or architect the experience without having aligned on a foundational, strategic vision for the future-state, or an iterative roadmap on how to deliver the maximum value to the business as quickly as possible.
Having led digital experience initiatives for national and global brands, Bold Orange has established a strategic methodology that helps brands create a strong vision for their digital experience and a tangible plan on how to execute against that vision.
Recognizing The Need
It’s important to recognize that every brand is at a different state of digital maturity, and each face their own unique challenges. Through the years, we’ve identified a few common themes that tend to trigger a brand to embark on a digital experience refresh or overhaul.
- Is your go-to-market approach shifting?
- Are you introducing new product lines?
- Have you recently acquired a new business?
These shifts in business strategy often have significant impacts on your digital presence—it’s critical to consider how the experience should evolve to stay relevant and optimized.
- Has your brand been adding content to your existing experience for years without reviewing its relevance, updating it, or removing it?
- Are there countless microsites or landing pages that were created for one-off needs?
- Is all that content search engine optimized?
Content management, governance, or architecture challenges could be making it difficult for users to find what they are looking for, and even harder for your team to manage.
- Do you have a digital experience that looks and feels different from one area of the site to another?
- Do users have to log into multiple systems in a given session?
- Are there more tools and technologies than you can keep track of?
Complexity in your solution architecture could be creating a poor experience for your users and driving cost inefficiencies for your organization.
“Inside Out” Architecture
- Does the architecture of your digital experience reflect that of your organization?
- Is the content within the site organized in accordance with how you organize your teams internally vs. how the market engages with you?
- Are there sub-sites or subdomains for each business unit that could be creating confusion for your users.
Many brands struggle to separate internal operating structures with how consumers think about and view their offerings—these differing perspectives can create confusion and a sub-optimized experience.
Hairball UX Design
- Is your user experience up-to-par with modern approaches?
- Do you have a uniform pattern library to ensure consistency across your end-to-end experience?
- Does it align with the architectures, patterns, and interactive cues that consumers have come to expect?
A poor user experience design can not only cause frustration, but it will also cost your business in the form of decreased conversion, lost revenue, and diminished customer loyalty.
Some brands may see themselves in one persona, others in all five. In any case, it’s important to recognize the challenges you’re facing to ensure they are addressed.
Crafting a Digital Experience Strategy
While each brand’s situation is different, there are foundational needs that should be addressed when initiating any experience transformation. Similar to building a new house, it can be tempting to jump straight into the aesthetics by selecting finishings and paint colors. But if you don’t have a purposeful architecture, a solid foundation, or a comprehensive plan, the experience won’t deliver on the needs of your users or stand the tests of time.
By taking the time to create an insight-driven experience strategy, your organization can ensure that the future digital experience will exceed the expectations of your users, while driving internal alignment around an actionable roadmap.
At Bold Orange, we’ve established a proven approach to experience strategy that yields valuable insights, organizational alignment around a strategic vision, and an actionable roadmap for iterative execution. The approach consists of six key components and is tailored to the current state situation (i.e., available research, internal alignment, existing complexity, etc.).
- Map the landscape – We begin crafting an experience strategy by deeply understanding the digital landscape around your brand and your consumers. By looking at competitors and market leaders, we identify themes and consumer expectations for the experience.
- Understand your stakeholders – Once we have a deep understanding of the competitive and market landscape, we meet with stakeholders to gain valuable insights from within the organization. A digital experience can’t be planned in isolation from the business operations, strategy, or vision.
- Develop personas and journeys – Many organizations serve several different audiences, and within those audiences, there are often varying need states and desires. To ensure the digital interactions serve the needs of each prospective user, it’s critical to define each persona, and map the various journeys that a persona may have with the brand, and the mindsets and need states at each stage.
- Analyze content and architecture – Armed with insights from stakeholders and your user base, we analyze the content, functionality and architecture that makes up the existing experience. To ensure the content is optimized for search engines, we perform an SEO audit on the content which informs strategic recommendations around domain structures, content architecture and the content within the page itself.
- Assess the technology stack – Technology is at the core of enabling a strong digital experience. We take an approach of inventorying and mapping the existing tech stack, and identifying sub-optimized platforms, duplication, potential limitations or gaps across the desired future-state experience.
- Build an actionable roadmap – To avoid “biting off more than you can chew” it’s critical to build a strategically prioritized roadmap to deliver value to your users and the business over time. We craft actionable and attainable plans that orchestrate UX/UI design, content development, technology development, and platform integration or optimization workstreams to deliver on key milestones.
Too often, brands embark on digital experience initiatives without a strong understanding of the key insights necessary to inform a strategic vision, a clear articulation of the vision, or a phased, actionable plan to realize it. Experience Strategy is a critical piece of any successful digital experience transformation—it ensures strong alignment across the organization and sets a foundation for success. If you want to talk about your digital experience needs, we’d love to have a chat.