Product Research Is The Most Important Aspect Of Digital Experience

Dan RowinskiDan Rowinski
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“How do you define digital experience and how do you approach it?” Turns out, it’s not that easy.

Why Personalization Is Imperative For Brands To Meet Customer Expectations The concept of digital experience is now en vogue.

But what does digital experience even mean?

In many ways, the term digital experience is opaque and diverse enough to become jargon. In its simplest form, anything that touches digital and can be interacted with by a human can create an experience.

If we put the term digital experience in a hierarchy—like an inverted pyramid—it would sit under the broader and vaguer term “customer experience.”

experience pyramid

Customer experience encompasses any time a person encounters a company and interacts with it. Corporate call centers for customer service or the smile of a person behind the counter. The color of the carpet at a retail store or the lighting of a restaurant.

Digital experience is the subset of customer experiences that entails the digital interaction of a person with a company. Digital experience has grown more important over the years as companies can no longer exist only in the physical realm. For 25 years, the world has gradually iterated to a bimodal plane of experiences between the digital and physical realms. The trend has only accelerated with the rise of mobile the fact of ubiquitous connectivity and computing.

Further down the experience ladder we have “user experience” (UX) which is a more technical term than customer or digital experience. User experience describes the more visceral reactions of a person to a digital product. Is the color right? Does the navigation work in a seamless manner? Is it easy to use and efficient? According to the International Organization For Standardization (ISO), user experience is defined as a person’s, “emotions, beliefs, preferences, perceptions, physical and psychological responses, behaviors and accomplishments that occur before, during and after use.”

User interface (UI) is a computer science concept. Think of it as the practical application of user experience. Where do the buttons go? Do the buttons work? What happens when a swipe happens up, down, left or right? The user interface nexus of where human meets machine and how they interact with it.

A recent report by Accenture stated that as digital interaction becomes more commonplace in every aspect of our lives, the expectation for high quality, seamless experiences is demanded from consumers. The people are speaking and it behooves companies to listen, accommodate and iterate.

Understanding Digital Experience And Product Decisions

The term digital experience defies a single explanation in a world with an ever-diversifying set of digital products. The digital experience of a garage door opener, that of a smart pet feeder and that of a quick service restaurant are going to be vastly different.

A company called Pepcom has an event every year during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas it calls “Digital Experience.” For the uninitiated, Pepcom is kind of like a mini-conference showroom floor. Companies have booths with products and people they want to tell people about. Pepcom is specifically for journalists and industry analysts and serves food and alcohol to entice the media to come interact with companies.

At CES 2017, we thought that since the Pepcom is called “Digital Experience” we would ask vendors a simple question:

“How do you define digital experience and how do you approach it?”

As it turns out, this is not a simple question.

As digital experience is hard to define, companies tend to talk about the experience of their own particular products. We found during our conversations that the topic went from defining digital experience to the idea of testing products, getting consumer feedback and making informed research, development and design decisions.

We found that instead of asking, “how do you define digital experience” we should have been asking, “what kind of research do you do to make digital product decisions?”

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