Your customers may not move at the same pace as the current trends. A good place to start is knowing what your customers are really doing, what they need and what adds value to improve their experience.
About a month ago I launched a website for a popular Australian Discount Variety retailer (ADV). Post launch, I received a number of direct feedback from peers in the UX and Design field. The most common feedback was that the site was too “simple” and the visuals were not as trendy compared to other popular retailer websites.
A fair comment. However, here is some context to help understand the design decisions behind the website.
Know your brand, know your customers
Prior to the launch, a number of designs were tested with the business as well as customers. While the business were keen to look modern and in trend with the retail world, the same did not resonate with the customers.
Without giving out too much details due to the nature of this re-design project, majority of this ADV retailer’s customers were unique and shopped differently to those who shopped at other bigger retailers. These ADV customers were also about a year or two behind the latest tech compared to customers who shopped elsewhere for similar items. So think iPhone 4s instead of iPhone 6.
Customers saw the new designs as too modern, too trendy and out of sync with the brand they knew so well. Surprisingly, customer perception was that the new rich experience was at the cost of increase in price of everyday products.
In terms of Social Media, not all channels resonated with customers. Some did very well while others not so much. This was clearly reflected in the website analytics and social media logs.
Design for a consistent brand experience
Based on customer feedback, the website had to reflect the simplicity and brand image of the brick and mortar stores, providing a consistent brand experience across all channels. Sending conflicting messages online and offline was certainly not desirable.
However, this is not to say ignore the trends and stop innovating. Knowing what the trends are and their relevance to your product/service offerings helps to stay ahead of the competition and make the brand desirable. Push the boundaries and innovate at a comfortable, steady pace and take your customers along on the journey.
Consistency, for me, in this scenario, meant striking a balance between current customer perception and facilitating the change required to be modern and yet stay relevant.
Changing brand perception
One of the issues highlighted during the website refresh project was that customers see the brand differently and this may not necessarily be right or how the business wants customers to perceive the brand. While this in itself is a broader topic and not the focus of this post, it did highlight the need to consistently communicate the message across all channels and ensure that the brand stays relevant.
Going forward, I plan to take customers on this journey, slowly, but surely. In the following months, the website will certainly evolve and align with the brand as the brand matures.
Will probably post an update on how the website and the brand transitions as we move along.
In closing, don’t build just another app, another website, another xyz. Smartphones and tablets are loaded with too many apps already. Same goes for websites and desktop applications.
Start by knowing what your customers are really doing, what they need and what adds value. And then design for your customers and not for trends.