Visitors to your digital space don’t want to think about interacting with your website. They want to—quickly and easily—make a purchase, find information, or have fun. It helps if they can be engaged and enchanted in the process. How can we facilitate this type of digital experience? These ten tips are a great place to start:
1. Create an experience. Your web visitors are experiencing something right now. Is it good or bad? Easy or hard? Do you know? The good experience designer plans for and builds deliberate experiences into his website, rather than hoping for the best.
2. Think lightswitches. You want light? Simple—just flip the switch. How many people ponder the intricacies of electricity or the skills of the electrician? If you notice that stuff, the electrician failed. Your website’s structure should be super functional and intuitive—not a web designer’s riddle.
3. Write an experience brief. Instead of creating detailed functional specifications, write a 1-page story about what your customers should experience while at your website. Then build that experience.
4. Think simple. That doesn’t mean your site has to BE simple. Apple looks simple—there’s only one button on my MacBook Pro. But it’s anything but simple. Apple has designed my MacBook experience to make sense simply, so I can focus on other things (like write this post).
5. Enable conversation. Visitors want to talk—with you, and with each other. Are you providing conversation spaces?
6. Don’t focus on stuff your site or app does. Instead, focus on the personal interaction. For example, visitors don’t want to interact with a comment box—they want to tell you what’s on their mind!
7. Ask! Invite people to participate in the experience you’re creating. They might just take you up on that offer and make their own digital experience more engaging in the process.
8. Stage experiences. Joseph Pine and James Gilmore, who wrote The Experience Economy, tell us to use services as the stage for engaging people in a memorable way. Stage … What? Do I need to dance? No—but you can rehearse staff-to-customer interactions so that when they happen, they are pleasant experiences rather than dull or offending moments.
9. Create pre- and post-shows on your website. Your product or service is the main event. Rollercoasters do this—the main event is the ride, and the post-show is the silly picture of you screaming. Make post shows for your customers to keep them coming back for more.
10. Don’t make me think (yep—Steve Krug’s book). Use that phrase as an experience mantra. Instead of forcing visitors to figure out how to use your site, make your website’s parts and pieces extremely simple to use. This lets your customers move from functionality to delight and engagement.
David Lee King is the Digital Branch & Services manager at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library where he plans, implements, and experiments with emerging technology trends. David was named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker for 2008, and recently published his first book Designing the Digital Experience: How to Use EXPERIENCE DESIGN Tools & Techniques to Build Websites Customers Love. David maintains a blog at DavidLeeKing.