The old adage is true: The path of least resistance will be the path most traveled.
In a digital market rife with competition, your customers will take no issue looking past Robert Frost’s beautiful example of contemplation and decisively choosing the brand that provides the most intuitive and straightforward digital experience.
When it comes to designing a digital experience that will make an impact on your bottom line, there are some well-established best practices that should be followed: Simplify your layout, minimize clicks and keystrokes, use a responsive design, etc.
However, beyond these already widely-adopted best practices lies a best-kept secret that provides an opportunity for true brand differentiation.
The secret ingredient to every app or website is the perspective of its customers
If the end-game is to put together an experience that your customers will love, why not go directly to the source of truth and let them drive your design?
In spite of the simplicity of this idea, there are significant barriers to effectively implementing the customer perspective into the design and development of a digital property. However, when it is done effectively, it can be beautiful to see.
Here are a few shining examples of brands whose digital properties reflect the specific needs and preferences of the customers they serve:
Audible’s Mobile App
People that listen to audiobooks like to incorporate books into as many different contexts of their lives as possible.
Audible’s mobile app addresses this preference by providing three unique interfaces that are designed for the different contexts in which people can be listening.
The traditional interface is designed to eliminate one of the greatest distractions that audiobooks can create to a multitasker - think of people listening while taking a walk, grocery shopping, or riding the train. Listeners are able to backtrack or skip ahead in 30 second increments by simply tapping corresponding buttons once.
The second interface option is a driving mode, which is easily accessible at the top of the traditional interface for listeners as they get into their car. On this screen, the listening experience is simplified to three core buttons that cover the main functionality a driver would need while operating a vehicle: Pausing, backtracking 30 seconds, and bookmarking favorite spots.
The third interface option is a “Button-Free” mode. For this interface, think of people listening while jogging, cooking, or doing any other activity that limits their capacity to focus on pressing buttons. Listeners on this screen are able to cover all necessary functionality by simply tapping or swiping their screen in different directions.
Building a useful app like Audible is a way to establish a solid user base. But continuously refining it to fit even more seamlessly into the many different contexts in which it is used is the way to keep users coming back.
Men’s shaving and grooming retailer Harry’s is a great example of a company with a very customer-centric website design.
With the majority of its business conducted digitally, Harry’s is serving an audience of male shoppers that is looking to capitalize on the convenience of skipping the trip to the store and ordering their grooming products online, either ad-hoc or on a subscription basis.
As you can see, its intuitive home page reflects the “set-it-and-forget” simplicity that rapidly emerging digital subscription services have recently brought to the retail industry.
First time visitors can start a free subscription trial in as few as five clicks, and all products, “Shave Plans,” and pricing information are presented up front with nothing being more than a click or two away.
The abundant and vivid imagery provides shoppers with the same visual confirmation that a trip to the store would. And for customers looking to learn more about Harry’s or check out its lifestyle magazine, Five O’Clock, it is all easily reachable by just scrolling down the screen.
Delta’s Mobile App
Delta has made it clear customers are a focal point in its business model, whether it be letting them pick the snacks it serves during flights, or through the design of its mobile app.
Delta’s customers are drawn to the convenience the airline provides through its enormous network of locations and flight options, and its service-oriented mobile app design magnifies this level of convenience through its simple design.
After opening the Fly Delta app for the first time as a guest, you are immediately presented with a ‘Book a Flight” screen requiring only three fields be filled (From, To, and Dates Traveling) in order to see search results.
Opening the hamburger menu at the top right provides quick access to everything travelers need to know about upcoming flights, as well as useful services like bag tracking, Delta Sky Club locations, and even airport maps.
While it is easy to provide customers with more than they are looking for in an app, a simple yet effective design like Delta’s complements its brand by providing customers with only more of the convenience they love.