Emily Wolf, web designer, shares why digital experiences must be crafted with just as much thoughtfulness and intention as our in-person, day-to-day experiences (not just left to chance).
The design of the online store you made a purchase from this morning is no different than the design of the concert you went to last night. You were attracted to it, you took it all in, you interacted with it, and you formed thoughts about it afterward. The sensory experience of the concert may be more obvious (the bright lights, the pulsing sounds, the taste of your drink), but the digital experience (when done right) can deliver a similar emotional impact.
Why? Because somebody has thoughtfully designed it. They thought about you, what you enjoy, what you expect, and what you desire. (Sound creepy? Maybe so, but this is also what makes Disney World your favorite place on Earth.)
The Case for Intentionally Designed Digital Experiences
Digital experiences should be more than a vehicle for the dispersal of information. They should be deeply human-centered, emotionally provoking, intentionally architected encounters that happen to be delivered via pixels.
Digital experiences should be deeply human-centered, emotionally provoking, intentionally architected encounters that happen to be delivered via pixels.
At Fifteen4, we believe in creating these memorable experiences through five essential methods:
- Know the user like you know your best friend
We begin by building empathy. We ask questions to learn everything we can. Then we pore over research to learn even more and spend time thinking about a day in the life of someone different than us.
Getting to know someone takes time, just like the tried and true relationships in your life. Understanding your users is an investment of time, but your ability to deliver exactly what will spark happiness or satisfaction comes only with this hard work.
- Craft a story that’s worth shouting from the rooftops
Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of information sharing. Stories encapsulate history, lessons, and memories. Meaningful stories demand attention, stir emotions, and secure a place on our mental bookshelves for a lifetime.
We work with our clients to figure out what their unique story is and why it matters to the user. Here’s a hint: people want to see themselves or who they desire to be in the content they consume. What story resonates with your users? What do they want to be a part of?
- Understand the time and space of the medium
Digital products not only come in different sizes and resolutions—they are also physically handled and engaged with in different ways throughout the day.
We think about what the user is doing before, during, and after the engagement, as well as their established attitudes and expectations towards it. Are your users commuters? If so, you have a huge opportunity to invoke joy and meaning during an otherwise mundane daily activity.
- Fulfill the expectations, then steal the show
Design patterns and best practices exist for a reason. Someone proposed an idea that gained traction, became recognizable and meaningful, and then became expected (think about the placement of the hot and cold knobs on your sink or the star on the lobby button in the elevator).
Abiding by the current design patterns communicates respect and intention to your user, and therefore avoids any form of frustration towards the experience (the instant death of any endeavor). Remember: some of the best-designed experiences are beautifully invisible.
- Create like a 5-year-old armed with crayons and a white wall
Children approach their artwork without hesitation or fear, and they dive deep into the unlimited, unrestrained depths of their imagination. Most importantly, they have big ideas that aren’t hindered by one crucial question: is this possible?
Some of Fifteen4’s best designs started with a crazy idea that seemed unconquerable before our super-talented creatives tackled it with ingenuity and elegance. Strive to find those ideas, then work backward to stretch your team’s creative limits (or ask us to partner alongside you for the ride–we promise to bring the beverages).
Every experience we have affects our emotions and shapes our beliefs. In digital design, the sensory elements that we are pulled in through, surrounded by, and left to reflect on must be crafted with thoughtfulness and intention (not just left to chance). Will you commit to creating digital experiences that are worth being recounted time and time again?