Designing for Experience Platforms

Design vs Development

Designers can’t focus only on look and feel. When a design is planned to drive the user experience, websites are more functional and more effective.

Man, I wish I could be a designer. Unfortunately, I don’t have a creative bone in my body! The extent of my creativity can be seen in my client and conference presentations, which I am sure are cringe-inducing for those who are truly talented designers.

That being said, one of the things that I have grown to appreciate is the value of a good website design. Outside my role as Director of Digital Strategy, I am a user of the internet and websites. And I am truly a statistic. UX stats say that 79% of people who don’t like what they find on one site will abandon the site and search on a different one… and let me tell you – when it comes to website that is poorly designed – I’m out of there. So count me in that percentage.

Now, as someone who works in the business of website design and development, I have seen design go lots of ways. I’ve worked on projects with both internal and external design teams, and seen design for experience platforms like Episerver and Sitecore introduce an additional level of complexity for designers to consider.

Looking back on those projects from my time at Brainjocks, and even before that at a few other companies, I thought I’d throw in my 2-cents on some things to keep in mind when dealing with those design complexities.

Don’t Forget the Goal

Oftentimes, when it comes to website design, we think about the goals or ‘jobs to be done’ only for the users coming to the site.  One of the things that we often overlook is the goal of the content authoring team. When it comes to good design, you have to have a balance of beauty and function to make sure that both the end user and the internal teams can get what they need.

Education is Key

When designing for a CMS or experience platform, it is critical for designers to have a good understanding of the system and be aware of all of the power the CMS has to offer. Designers should be asking questions about the system for which they are designing. It may even help to take a brief 1-day training. It’s also important for the technology partner to be willing and able to teach this to designers as well. Knowledge sharing is caring. The goal is to make sure that designers understand best practices, appreciate the intricacies of the systems, and are aware of the “gotchas” before diving into site design.

The Death of Default Content

Personalization is all the rage for marketers, and it is something that should not be overlooked in the design process. Personalization needs to be considered in two ways:

1. Areas of personalization should be identified early and often so that it’s captured in the requirements and taken into consideration in the build of the site.

2. When presenting designs to clients, it is important to use personalization as an opportunity to eliminate design elements of compromise (carousels, etc.). In a perfect world, everyone is receiving personalized content and there is a limited amount of default content, which then informs the design for the ideal customer experience. It’s the difference between design for one vs. design for many.

Interested in discussing design for experience platforms or other design topics? Fill out the contact form or HMU on twitter @jgrozalsky.

Stay thirsty, friends.

Jill Grozalsky

Author: Jill Grozalsky

As Director of Digital Strategy, Jill helps clients develop and execute strategies rooted in data that provide the best experience for their customers.

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