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Digital Marketing

CEM, Content Marketing and Web Design: How User Experience is Changing

Gareth Cartman

Don’t make your customer think, but do allow them to think for themselves

Web design is changing, and so it should. Technology moves on, and so do we… Digital marketing is ubiquitous, with growing numbers of social media channels, online businesses and the growing importance of SEO and content marketing.

Web designers ask themselves what makes a good user experience. Users often leave Web pages in 10-20 seconds but, could stay longer if the pages are clear to understand, there is an obvious value preposition and there is something that interests the user – could this be content or design?

Both content and user experience work hand in hand just like the chicken and the egg. Without one, the other wouldn’t exist. In an eggshell then, the content is what fills up the website with the valuable information. The shell itself is the design, the landing page and it is where people will initially, visually look at the quality of the site.

Together with quality web design and rich content – you have the perfect foundation to offer the user a good experience.

However, we’re not there , sometimes good just isn’t good enough.

People now expect better, they are more impatient and they want a experience - and you should be focused on delivering this to them. A great user experience delights the customer with surprises, it offers a friction-free journey, and it allows customers to think for themselves rather than being made to think.

Users want to move from A to B, to C and D without too much, or no hassle at all. Simple navigation and ease of use is then like the yolk and the egg white, it needs to be strong and moulded together to work effectively.

You have great, original content and the website is great too, it’s colourful, bold and offers a variety of information – but Google’s Panda is still not convinced that your site should rank higher.

Why?

Because your customer is frustrated by the lack of navigation ease around the site, they have landed on your page but are not guided to where they want to be, so they leave. The Panda sees this rapid return to the search listings as evidence that your page is not relevant to that query. If that experience is common, then why should you rank in that position? Users don’t think you’re good enough, so neither will the Panda.

Simple.

This is why - when building your website and content, you should always have your customer in mind and put yourself in their feet. Regardless of how good your site looks, ask yourself - is your website simple, easy to navigate and clearly displays options?

If not, you need to consider how to make the user experience better.

CEM underlines a customer-focused approach, and delivers less obviously on product or brand focus. It is a powerful framework that strategically guides a user through the site, offering rich content, tips, advice and anything interesting for the user. It is important to consider the concept of Customer Experience Management because it looks more at managing the customer around the site as opposed to marketing to the customer.

Concentrating on micro-design invites you to the world of the . They are the little details and effects on a website that can leave an impression on your reader. Micro-design helps to tackle the challenge of connecting with customers online, emotionally.

Below are three of my favourite micro UX effects and transitions that you can use for your website to make user experience more exciting and impressive. (If you click on the images you will be taken to a page with the coding so that you can copy and paste it into your web page.)

This effect allows you to hover over the image to reveal more details and expand the options. I like this UX effect because it gives you more information about the product if you want it (by hovering over the image.) In a way, it makes you feel like you are in charge of the purchase. You can see the details of how to buy and share the product, if you are interested it by simply carrying your mouse over the top. It also makes it easier to just scroll through a page of products to see what you like, without a page swamped with call to actions. The page looks cleaner and more visually expressed.

· Flat design social panel

This is an animated way to social sharing, and growing your amount of followers. This UX effect can also be used as a more visual and dynamic call to action. I like that it is different to your usual social sharing icons that sit together in columns or rows, this is more noticeable and has more of a design feature, it is a set of logo’s with character.

· Loading animation

I’m an impatient person, as are most people. I expect things to get done and I expect quick results. There is nothing more annoying than watching a page load for ages and thinking there might be a problem with the browser, or thinking that your Internet connection could be slow. I like a loading animation purely based on the fact that I have something to look at rather than staring at a blank empty page. Although it wouldn’t turn me into a patient nun, it would definitely sway me away from getting aggravated for that little bit longer- and I guess that’s worth it. When users have to wait for the page to load, why not be creative and give them something to look at?

Starbucks and CEM

The world of the web is a competitive space and you need to know how to make your site appealing so visitors come back for more.

I had a play around on the Starbucks website - I feel they have applied the CEM ethos well throughout their website to offer a great user experience.

ethos is based on creating a distinctive user experience for their customers. I have indicated the three things I have immediately noticed when using the site.

  • On the landing page, it is immediately visual, clearly shows they are coffee crazy and under ‘What’s New’ they use the thumbnail product details UX effect to further detail the option the user hovers over.

From the same page I can find out a little more about what I am interested in without having to leave the page and going back and forth.

I think I might just go for the perfect winter warmer, Vanilla Spice Latte next time I pass Starbucks and experience the wrath of this cold British weather.
  • The colour theme of black and green is also consistently used throughout the site, if the background colour is black, when you hover over it – it is highlighted green and, black on a green format.

As a user, I find things stand out more and are emphasised a little more by using this highlighting effect, making the site more exciting it helps you focus on what you are looking at.

  • With regards to content on the site, there is one blog post on each page that you land on. Each of the posts is tailored and specific to the page, and this can be helpful to the user as the blog content is almost tailored and categorised within the page you’ve visited, and the page you are interest in.

It saves you time you may otherwise have spent searching for the designated blog area (if it exists) elsewhere on the site and creates an instant connection with the user by offering valuable and interesting information with a personable approach.