In my last post I described our collaborative user experience (UX) approach to the Avery Weigh-Tronix website. This was a complete end-to-end project, and was an amazing opportunity to play a key role in a complete revolution of Avery Weigh-Tronix's online presence. In this post I want to talk about the way that the research done as part of the UX design was able to inspire and direct the creative aspects of the project, and enabled us to justify and explain a relatively daring new approach.
Right now I’m listening to Billy Bragg’s A13 Trunk Road to the Sea, an inspired Anglicised tribute to the American classic (Get your kicks on) Route 66. I bring it up because it’s given me an idea of how to start writing this post. Rather bizarrely, I think it demonstrates something that we at Auros needed to get our collective heads around while planning and developing the new Avery Weigh-Tronix website. Now if that all sounds as tenuous as a new Vicar at a primary school trying to find parity between the Little Baby Jesus and Pokemon, bear with me…
I recently changed energy providers. Not an especially interesting revelation I admit: why would anyone else care whose logo is at the top of my electricity and gas bills? But I'd say that the reason for changing provider is interesting, because this is the first time I can recall consciously having made a purchase decision based on the quality of user-experience on a website.
It isn't that long ago that the user-experience of a company's website was no more than incidental to the overall customer experience, and an optional part of the customer's relationship with the business. These days it clearly makes sound financial sense for almost any business to encourage its customers to self-manage online, and now regular contact with the website has become an absolute requirement of that relationship.
There is a problem that I think most designers encounter at some time or another, and I have unilaterally decided to call it Design by Homeopathy. You deliver a strong design - something memorable,hopefully, and with a bit of character. You take this design and give it to a client, who wants to dilute it with a large quantity of blandness. Maybe there are some overall guiding requirements from higher up in the organisation, or requirements from internal stakeholders, but your exciting design is getting seriously watered down. But you bite the bullet and mix in the blandness, and take the result and give to the client again. Again it gets diluted with more blandness. This can happen any number of times, but that's OK, because the blandness 'remembers' the initial great design.