The customer journey to purchase is a complex one; whether you believe the journey is a spider web, a loop, or a linear funnel, the same three truths exist for all of them – awareness, consideration, and conversion. With advancements in technology, there is now a plethora of inventory options to advertise towards those consumers online. So I am going to try to simplify the digital space for you by outlining which tactics to purchase at what point in the customer journey to increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

 
The purpose of consumer personas is to elicit empathy within the marketing, management, and sales process as it relates to the customer experience. Personas are neither real individuals nor should they be dated stereotypes. Personas should be created to illustrate fictional representations of the top targeted consumers for the business or product. Rather than assumptive models, personas should be created with backed research from reverse profiling databases or other forms of consumer data, where you can breathe life into them through more qualitative measures such as interviewing current and potential customers as well as sales associates. It is important that the information and data points collected and illustrated on the persona be relevant to the product or service as well as have the ability to evolve and stay effective over time. If the personas become stagnant, they can lose touch with the target market, leading to stereotypes, misplaced empathy, ineffective marketing plans, and lost sales.

 
The term user experience was coined by Don Norman based on digital interactions—check out our What is User Experience article if you’re interested in a little more background on the term. However, with growing popularity on the subject, it has grown to include more than just what happens behind a screen. The core of UX is about giving users a good experience with your brand, so that shouldn’t end with their experience on your website. Enter: omni-channel UX, or more accurately, omni-channel CX (Customer Experience).

 
When it comes to branding, tone is the combination of several different visual components that all work together to give a certain impression or feeling. All too often, people think of tone as being solely verbal, however we’re going to explain (and show) how both verbal and visual elements must work together to create a brand’s tone. The ways in which a brand embodies a certain look and feel happens through defining the brand’s personality traits and their voice, while also taking into consideration who their audience may be and what is appropriate for their subject matter. Once the personality traits and voice have been defined, the visuals can come to life through the brand’s website, which gives even more life to the brand through the interaction design, the incorporation of video and animation and the ways in which the brand takes advantage of its messaging opportunities.

 
When you are designing a website, images, whether graphics or photography, have a huge impact on the user experience. They can also be the deciding factor as to whether someone is going to stay on your site or move on to a competitor’s. Images can be a powerful communication tool that transforms a simple site into a memorable experience for your audience, amplifies your brand, and increases conversions. Images can often also be the most direct way to educate your users as different types of people process different types of information.

 
Information architecture, or IA, is used to create the structure of a website or mobile application. In a perfect world, the IA of your website would give your user the context needed to know where they are and where their desired information is located in relation to their current position. But before your IA can come anywhere close to this ideal scenario, you must first understand and know how to apply the conventions and standards of information architecture. Only after you have an understanding of these foundational tools can you develop and execute good IA for your website or mobile application.

 
Scaling from desktop to mobile presents unique challenges. Much of this difficulty lies in the fact that we need to provide a consistent experience, no matter the device. Constraints like device width and varying input types contribute to this challenge. Even with these responsive hurdles, it is possible to provide a seamless experience across devices. So, here we will outline responsive solutions for common web components. At this point you may be asking yourself why we are considering scaling from desktop to mobile? Why are we not following the mobile first mentality that is so commonplace today? While our team does encourage and practice mobile first, the reality is that we are receiving wireframes and design mockups for desktop*. We have to use our best judgment for how these common web components, like carousels and maps, scale and function.

 
Conducting a user test may seem simple at first—you ask a few questions and observe the participant, right? Not quite. As user experience strategists and designers, understanding our users is one of, if not the, most important pieces in the user experience (UX) puzzle. It can also be one of the most challenging. Everyone is different. People think differently. People act differently. And most importantly in UX, people use websites (apps, software, etc.) differently. That’s why user testing is so crucial. It allows us to observe users as they interact with our (or our client’s) website. The benefits of user testing are incomparable to the benefits of other forms of research, and when paired together with those other forms of research, can result in truly powerful insights.

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