If you’re struggling to get your digital product to stand out in an oversaturated market, failing to convert customers and keep them coming back for more, or finding it difficult to build a recognisable and relatable digital brand, creating memorable user experiences might just be the secret weapon you need.
When Elon Musk purchased Twitter for - ah, hold up, let us try that again….
When Elon Musk purchased X (boy, that’s going to take some getting used to!) for the minor sum of $44bn, he promised to revolutionise the social platform by championing free speech and preserving the democracy of ideas. So no biggie.
But despite a revised newsfeed, new verification policy, tweaked algorithm, and 80% (yep, 80%) fewer employees, it’s safe to say the vision hasn’t quite come to fruition just yet – and that might be putting it kindly.
Because here’s the thing: providing functionality is one thing, but combining it with an experience that is enjoyable is another. And we don’t know about you, but a newsfeed of low-quality memes from accounts we don’t follow isn’t what we signed up for. Oh, and don’t forget to pay your $8.
Is this a memorable user experience? Arguably. For the right reasons? Absolutely not.
The moral of the story is that a positive user experience (UX) is vital. And while the user experience can vary app to app, business to business, the fundamental meaning remains the same: it’s about optimising the way your users interact with your product through utility, ease of use, and engagement. In short: building a product not just for value, but enjoyability too.
But without the right know-how, this is no easy feat. Creating memorable user experiences requires a uniquely tailored approach to design and development that’s rooted in a thorough understanding of your audience - not just who they are, but what makes them tick. And if that wasn’t enough, great UX also needs to embrace trends and innovations, while also considering how the experience can vary across different devices and use cases. That’s a whole lot to consider!
While your digital product might not be worth $44bn just yet (and if it is, we’re just kidding Mr Musk - we’d LOVE to work with you), creating a memorable user experience is a key ingredient in achieving greater user retention, higher conversion rates, and creating a stronger digital brand.
Here’s how to get it right.
How to understand your users
Your users are the very blueprint of your UX. The aim is to create a product that truly resonates with your audience, and to do this, you need to deep dive into your users’ emotions, desires, psychology, and behaviours, then use these findings to inspire the direction you take.
Remember: UX isn’t about aesthetics, but purposeful and informed actions. Users interact with so many digital products and platforms each day, so to stick in their memory, you need to create an experience that stands out by connecting with them on a deeper level.
The good news is that you don’t have to be Derren Brown to get into the mind of your users, nor do you need the detective skills of Sherlock Holmes to conduct effective user research. So how exactly do you begin understanding your users in a more meaningful way? Elementary, my dear Watson…
Tip #1: Identify your users
Alright, first things first: you need to identify your audience.
A good place to start is with your own ideas of who and what your digital product is for. Ask yourself:
- What is my product’s purpose?
- What type of audience would value this product?
- What type of user belongs to this audience type?
If you already have other digital products associated with your brand - like an existing website, mailing list or social page, for example - this is a good time to source any data you have on your existing audience. The more informed this process is, the more effective it will be. That said, don’t fret if you’re starting from scratch - some alternative methods of quantitative research include conducting competitor analysis, field studies, and surveys. And remember: the best UX design is a continual process based on testing, feedback, and learning, meaning it doesn’t have to be perfect on your first try.
For example, imagine a business owner - let’s call her Emma. Emma is looking to develop an application that reimagines the way people discover new independent music artists (sorry Tay-Tay, your time is up). Stood before the Blank Space on her whiteboard, Emma isn’t quite sure where to start - but determined to Shake It Off, she asks herself the core questions about her users and, following consumer research, concludes:
- The app is intended to make new and less popular music artists easier to discover
- The app is for music fans outside of the mainstream
- This audience is typically less concerned with trends, likely to be over the age of 16, and currently discover artists through live gigs, streaming playlists, and word of mouth
And just like that, we have our foundation - now it’s time to scratch beneath the surface.
Tip #2: Profile who they are (and who they want to be)
With a basic grasp of demographics established, you can begin diving into psychographics (don’t worry, it’s not as intimidating as it sounds!).
Think of demographics as the ‘who’ of your audience, while psychographics help you identify the ‘what’ and ‘why’. They’re an essential part of profiling your users and can be used to inform thorough and effective user personas, uncovering more about your users not just on a cognitive level, but a behavioural level too.
This user research is considered qualitative analysis because it focuses more on emotions and motivations, enabling you to construct user personas beyond simple characteristics like age, gender, occupation, and location. User interviews and focus sessions are amongst the most popular methods of qualitative user research, but these insights can also be obtained through brainstorming and workshop sessions.
Look to explore:
- What motivates your user into the intended action?
- What emotions are evoked in the process?
- What barriers do they face in taking the intended action?
- What values and beliefs are tied to the intended action?
- What social and cultural factors impact this experience?
Essentially, it’s bringing data and insights to life by synthesising ideas and assumptions into real, usable concepts. This is what will help you drill down effective differentiators for your digital product and create an experience users won’t forget anytime soon.
Let’s check in on Emma.
When profiling her users with qualitative research, Emma discovered:
- Users were bored of the artists they currently listened to, passionate about championing undiscovered artists, and searching for music they could relate to
- Users were curious and impassioned about independent artists, excited by the prospect of discovering music before others, but frustrated by the difficulty of existing discovery methods
- Users were hesitant about paying for music they weren’t familiar with, apprehensive about the quality of the artists, concerned they wouldn’t get the chance to see these artists live, and feared being manipulated into supported artists that didn’t align with their values
- Users were music loves that valued artistic integrity and authentic expression
- Users considered their music taste to be part of their personal image, identified with specific scenes/communities, and regularly attended live music events
Voila - Emma now has a deeper understanding of who her audience are, what motivates them, and why they need her product. These are the secret ingredients she needs to cook up a first-rate user experience that sticks in the minds (and ears) of her audience.
How to create personal experiences
Now it’s time to get personal. No, no, not like that - leave our mother out of this.
What we mean is, it’s time to personalise the user experience in order to form a greater connection with your audience. Don’t underestimate just how effective this can be - Twilio Segment reports that a noteworthy 62% of business leaders cite improved customer retention as a benefit of personalisation efforts.
Personalising your UX is a fast-track ticket to sticking in the mind of your customers, providing you do it right. For example, while 85% of brands believe they’re offering personalised experiences, only 60% of consumers seem to agree - but this highlights a massive opportunity to stand out from the crowd and get ahead of your competitors.
And the good news is, now that you know more about your audience than your Alexa knows about what you want for Christmas, you can ensure your personalisation is purposeful and effective. Aligning a tailored experience with the values and goals of your users is not only a sure-fire way of increasing engagement and satisfaction, but also forming a deeper bond with your users by providing an experience that feels unique and, subsequently, memorable.
Tip #3: Stick with what they know
Familiarity makes humans feel comfortable - that’s psychology 101. And the same rule applies to your digital products.
Creating a memorable user experience isn’t about reinventing the wheel. In fact, most of the time it’s the complete opposite. Familiarly enables users to learn how to use your product faster and minimises frustration, having a positive impact on engagement and retention as a result.
Understand how your audience interacts with other digital products, and replicate this in your own UX. A good rule of thumb is placing features where your audience would assume them to be, and have them function in the way that’s expected. *Cough* Elon *Cough*.
Memorable user experiences are intuitive. Ensuring that your product is adaptable and user-friendly in this way not only ensures a seamlessly optimised usability to your digital product, but also helps improve its accessibility - another important hallmark of strong UX.
A further way of achieving this familiarity is by enabling customisation. This places the power in the hands of each user to personalise their experience in a way most convenient to them - and the more convenient an experience is, the more likely it is to be remembered.
Emma, for example, might champion familiarity by enabling customisation of user dashboards and layouts, and integrating the streaming service used most frequently by her users to allow them to listen to the artist they’ve discovered, with a simple play button and recognisable interface.
Tip #4: Utilise geolocation
Geotargeting is another powerful weapon to have in your personalisation arsenal. It’s all about location, location, location (no, not the TV show - is that even still on air?).
Geolocation APIs can be utilised to access information about your user’s current whereabouts, and tailor their experience accordingly. It’s vital that this is implemented in line with accessibility compliance however, so it’s recommended to work with someone in the know on developing this feature.
Implement it successfully and you’ll have the power to tailor your UX in a way that’s not only more personal to the user, but one that drives greater engagement as a result.
The geolocation opportunities for Emma’s app are huge, for example - she could filter artist recommendations based on the user’s area, and incorporate the concert dates of artists playing locally. This transforms her app from a simple listing platform into a dynamic and personal experience.
Tip #5: Personalise your content
Tailored content is the bread and butter of a personalised user experience - think addressing users by name, auto-filling searches, and tailoring recommendations based on preferences, browsing habits, and previous purchases.
The benefits are there for all to see. Content personalisation like incorporating the user’s name helps to create a more intimate experience and forms a stronger bond with the customer, while recommendations help users to discover new products, services, and content that’s tailored directly to their tastes. All the while, you benefit from improved user retention and improved conversion rate - it’s the very definition of win-win.
Push notifications are another effective tool to use here, notifying users of new products or content that’s relevant to them as a means of driving further engagement. Plus, this is an easy way to stick in the minds of your users by sending them friendly reminders about your platform - this helps build brand association and positive user experiences, providing these notifications remain super-relevant. Get it wrong, and it’s easy to cross the line into annoying!
Personalised content presents yet more great opportunities for Emma…she’s going to need another whiteboard! For example, the app could utilise user’s browsing habits and interactions with certain artist profiles to notify her of concerts they might enjoy in their area, or suggest similar musicians based on genre or scene - essentially, each user can become the Simon Cowell of their town (only with better talent discovery and way, way less botox).
How to capitalise on the power of storytelling
When most business leaders hear storytelling, they assume it means telling the story of their brand or compelling users to action through a relatable narrative. And this can have some value in creating memorable user experiences - telling stories that relate to the user’s pain points and experiences can be an impactful way of building relatability and trust.
But this isn’t the end goal - so put the pen and paper down, Hemingway.
When it comes to the power of storytelling in UX, it’s less about creating narratives for the user to follow, and more about using powerful narrative devices to construct your UX. Yep, that’s right - even dev and design teams have a Shakespeare within them.
Think of it this way: the user experience itself is the story. With a beginning, middle and end, user experiences follow a story arc - and so you can capitalise on the power of storytelling by incorporating narrative foundations into your design. Do this successfully, and your user experience will feel natural, authentic, and meaningful.
Fear not, this doesn’t require you to remember your old English Literature lessons - there’s no need to dust off your old copy of Of Mice and Men.
Tip #6: Consider your sequencing
For a story to flow, it must have a natural sequence. This is what gives it meaning and structure.
At its simplest, it’s a beginning, a middle, and an end. Or to take a leaf out of Shakespeare’s book: it’s a conflict, a climax, and a resolution. Imagine trying to understand A Midsummer Night’s Dream if the climax came before the conflict - it’s hard enough to follow as it is!
It’s the natural sequencing that brings enjoyment to the reader, and in the same sense, what makes an experience memorable. While some UX empowers the user to make their own decisions about what direction to take, it’s your role to guide them along the right path by ensuring a logical progression.
This is called mapping out the user flow - what direction will their journey take, and how will they get from A to B?
Let’s think about Emma’s app:
- When signing up, users will first be asked to fill out important information like their favourite genres, artists, venues. This is the beginning of their story, and is what will inspire both their destination and the route they take to get there.
- Users are then presented with a range of ways to discover the artists most suited to them, with different user flows enabling them to discover artists via a range of different journeys. Maybe they’ve filtered by genre, for example, or are browsing what’s popular in their area.
- The end of the story is the discovery, with the user landing on an artist they like and engaging through following their profile, listening to their music, or purchasing a ticket to the show.
It sounds simple because it should be simple; logical sequencing is paramount to an user experience that users continue to enjoy. That’s not to say your digital product can’t be packed full of features and capability - the more unique your experience is, the more likely it is to be remembered - but this should never come at the cost of usability. A complex and confusing experience is a sure fire way to lose users’ attention and never see them again.
Tip #7: Be weary of pacing
Pacing is another essential narrative tool.
Of course, stories develop at their own pace - some are short and concise, while others are slow and deliberate. Have you ever read War and Peace? Gheez.
Choosing the right pace for your user experience is a key part of ensuring you keep users engaged. It requires conscious, informed decisions about informational architecture - put simply, giving the user the right information at the right time.
Offer your users too little information too slowly and they’ll get frustrated; throw too much information at them too quickly, and they’ll be overwhelmed. The result both times? A poor user experience that drives users away.
Imagine signing up to Emma’s app, for example, only to immediately be drowned in recommendations for every single artist in your area, or every musician related to your genre of your choice. That’s not only impractical; it’s ineffective.
Instead, consider how Emma’s app could be better paced: a value proposition at the top of the page explaining how and why to use the app, and a drip feed of artists, filter options, and features that capture the interest and attention at the right time.
Tip #8: Establish your tone
All good storytellers know the importance of tone.
Tone is not only what ties your pacing and sequencing together, but also what builds the connection with your user. It sets the expectation, evokes the emotion, inspires the action, and gives your product both personality and perspective.
To create a user experience that sticks, this tone should complement your qualitative research - how are you reflecting your audience’s values, attitudes, and beliefs?
Keep in mind that this isn’t just in your language and messaging; your tone is established in every conscious design choice, from the font and colours to images and layout.
For your tone to complement the story you’re telling across your experience, it’s absolutely imperative that it’s cohesive, so ensure you take the time to map out the story you want to tell and experiment with how you achieve it with your digital product.
Testing and feedback are an integral part of this. Don’t just assume you’ve got it right; prove it. From A/B testing to feedback sessions and surveys, experiment with different tones until your user experience tells a story you’re confident truly connects with your user, represents your brand, and achieves your goals.
We get it, you’re busy. Who sits down to read long-form content nowadays anyway? Here are the all-important takeaways:
- A memorable user experience requires you to know your audience inside-out
- Gain a comprehensive understand of your audience through quantitative and qualitative research methods
- Adopt a rage of personalisation methods to build deeper connections with users
- Consider your product’s user flows and how these impact the overall experience
- Pay close attention your informational architecture to avoid frustrating or overwhelming your users
- Ensure every design choice suits the tone of your product’s story
With the near limitless capability of tech evolving day to day, it can be tempting to overload your digital product with feature, after feature, after feature - but this rarely pays dividends. The experience your product provides is just as important as the value it creates, and this requires you to place the user at the very heart of what you do. Take the time to truly understand your audience and create a product that not only meets their needs, but provides an experience they won’t forget - this is the ultimate way to build your digital brand.