User-experience design is too often thought of as a digital-marketing task, ensuring that website and app development meet and ideally exceed usability standards. It needs to be something bigger -- much bigger -- if the ad business wants to remain relevant. Agencies and marketers should think about how the tenets of improving user interaction and user experience can be applied throughout the brand experience, from importation of digital assets and in-store browsing use of call centers. The idea is to get beyond ad-centric ideas that inevitably get lost in the muck of media fragmentation and message overload and to offer brands more ways to reduce friction with their consumers.
The proliferation of digital interfaces when we interact with brands offers a perfect metaphor for how the industry should be thinking about brands. Agencies of all stripes need to think about how they can integrate big-thinking experience designers into their creative and strategy offerings. Inspirations include startups such as Uber, whose brilliantly designed mobile app and fleet of friendly drivers, is taking the pain out of ordering and paying for car service in urban environments. Larger enterprises are getting it, too. Consider British Airways, which has simplified its consumer-database approach in a way that makes it easier for the airline to personalize the flight experience, or Apple and its seamless web-to-store commerce experience.
"We have to consider the roles our brands take in consumers' lives in every capacity, not just the fleeting interactions traditionally considered," said Mathew Ray, senior VP-director of creative technology at Mullen, whose clients include JetBlue, Zappos and Google. Mullen's Experience Design practice uses nontraditional, interdisciplinary teams whose shape depend on the brand in question. "This hyper-bundled approach helps us disseminate experience design and other thinking throughout all kinds of projects."
TO DO: Hyper-bundle. Think broadly about user experience and designing all consumer interactions as a user-experience expert would. Speaking of user-experience experts, hire some. And don't be afraid. People will tell you're treading on turf better left to IDEO, that you just make ads, not experiences. People can be stupid.