What are customer experience design principles and what problems do they solve?

Website development and customer experience design principles

When you ask a developer to create a new website for your brand, the developer needs to consider three design principles: service design (SD), user experience design (UX) and customer experience design (CX). You might have already heard of UX, but it’s less likely that you’re familiar with SD and CX. The latter is essentially the customer experience design principles that this post is all about, but we can’t talk about one of these design principles without understanding the others.

That’s because they are three parts of a whole and where they intersect, you have the perfect website for your brand. These three principles (SD, CX and UX) have become vital in the drive to create professional quality, appealing and high converting websites. In fact, when you understand these three principles and have them perfectly replicated in your website, you can gain a significant edge on the competition.

So let’s start by looking at the user experience (UX), simply because you most probably have some idea of this principle. Then we’ll move onto the service design principle (SD), followed by the customer experience (CX). We’ll wrap it up by looking at how all three of these design principles interact with one another to give you a website that helps you to achieve your business goals.

What are the user experience design principles (UX)?

The user experience design principle is focused on creating a website that’s easy to use and functional. Essentially, it means that the user (customer, potential customer, employee, etc.) who uses your website finds it to be visually appealing, and easy to navigate and use, and leaves the site with a positive experience.

You might think that the user experience and the customer experience design principles are exactly the same, because after all, a user can also be a customer. As you will see, however, there are distinct differences between these two design principles, sufficient that they deserve their own emphasis during the development process.

Getting back to the UX design principles, there are actually three well researched steps that need to be taken by the developer. The first step is discovering who currently uses your existing website and who is your target audience. It’s also important to know why they visit your website and what they want to feel when they leave. These might sound like very elementary questions, but they all have meaning to the user. The answers to these questions feed into the UX design process and help to create a website that’s optimised for the user experience.

The developer uses the above information in the second step, which is where they design your new website, along with the best-practice UX design principles that should be co-opted by all developers. Once designed, the user experience design principles that have been used to create your new website need to be tested in the third step, where real users are asked to interact with your website and their feedback incorporated into the design.

An example of the UX design principles in action is where a dentist wants to add an online booking form to their new website. After talking to some of his patients he believes he has a good understanding of their needs, which are dutifully included in the design. To ensure that the new online booking form provides a good user experience, he asks some of his customers to use it and provide feedback, which is then included in the final version of the online booking form.

Let’s now look at the service design principles, followed by the customer experience design principles.

What are the service design principles (SD)?

Service design (SD) principles apply to your new website, even if you sell products, not services to your customers. That’s because service design is not about the services you sell, but the service you give to both your employees and your customers or potential customers who use your website.

The easiest way to explain service design principles is to consider how you can make the act of selling your products or services better for both your employees and your customers. How can you make the logistics easier and more satisfactory for your employees and the buying process easier and more satisfactory for your customers?

The importance of service design principles to the success of your website is probably best explained by a few examples. So, for instance, you can make the logistics side of the purchase easier for your employees by installing a high-tech piece of software that automatically updates your inventory levels in the warehouse. The software decreases the stock available at both your bricks and mortar store and your website. This makes your employee’s job easier, because they always know how much stock is available in the warehouse, regardless of where it’s sold.

The software can also be used to make your customer’s buying experience easier and extremely positive. That’s because it updates your customers when their purchase is picked, packed, sent to the courier, picked up by the courier, when it’s on its way and the expected date and time of delivery.

In short, SD design principles are concerned with optimising both the back and front end operations of a sale, making the whole process easier for your employees and customers.

What are the customer experience design principles (CX)?

Customer experience design principles are concerned with providing your customers with a positive experience at every touch point with your business. This includes all face to face interactions in your high street store, customer enquiries, online chats, and their interactions with your social media pages and website. It’s far more all-encompassing than the UX experience alone, which deals with their interactions with your website, whilst the CX design principles deal with their interactions with your brand.

As an example, a customer may check out a product on your website and then pop down to your store to explore the product further, asking the sales assistant a few more questions. The customer purchases the product in your store but when they arrive home they remember there was something they needed to ask but forgot at the time. So they go to your website and use the online chat facility to find the answer they need. They are so happy with their experience and your product that they visit your Facebook page and leave a glowing review. All of these touchpoints need to be optimised using customer experience design principles.

As far as the development of your website is concerned, however, customer experience design principles focus on the environment where the customer interactions take place with your brand. They are also concerned with how the customer interacts with this environment and the effect of this encounter. Specifically, this will mean that your developer examines your website as a whole (the environment), along with the ease of the customer’s interactions with your website and whether their overall experience was positive.

This means that the developer needs to make sure that you have sufficient information on your website so that the customer can make an informed buying decision. Your website also needs to be easy to navigate, visually appealing and provide access to further information if required. This may involve a FAQ page, online chat facility and an easy to read contact page. It may also include high quality images, webinars, how-to videos, and so on.

It’s also important that the expectations created when the customer visits your website are upheld when they visit your store. This means that your branding colours and messages need to be reflected in your website, as well as in your store.

How do all of these three principles interact with each other?

As you can appreciate, all three design principles could stand alone, but the effect on your website wouldn’t lead to an overall effective and positive experience. It’s only when all three design principles are used together that your website can be truly said to be designed with the user’s experience in mind. This means that your next website needs to incorporate three fundamental aspects: service design, user experience and customer experience design principles.

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