User experiences across channels

Recently I read an article on the Nielsen Norman Group website by Janelle Estes entitled Cross-Channel Usability: Creating a Consistent User Experience. This article talks about designing a user experience across all channels of a business, which includes any avenue through which a customer obtains information or completes a task. From a kiosk in an airport to an app on your phone, the same experience must carry through all these channels.

Channels of today

First, let’s identify through which channels the average business might connect with it’s user base.

  • Website (desktop)
  • Website (mobile)
  • Email
  • Social Media

I feel these are the most common, but here are some additional channels that are utilized:

  • Mobile app
  • Kiosks
  • Printed publication
  • Others?

Channels aren’t silos

Many business, large and small, tend to think of each area as its own. Someone handles the website. Another creates email messages, and yet another puts together printed pieces. As the article Cross-Channel Usability: Creating a Consistent User Experience points out, users don’t see these channels as separate business areas. It’s all just simply one business to them.

It starts with the business

Moving across channels should feel pretty seamless to the user. I feel this strategy begins with the company as a whole. The company, comprised of multiple areas, should be solidified as one unit when coming across to its users. Otherwise, the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, and the company looks flat out silly when it makes a big announcement in one channel, yet nothing is reflected in its other channels. I know this drives me nuts as a user.

Businesses can seal these gaps by communicating amongst the different areas of the business. This doesn’t mean having every department at every meeting, but it can mean including the key members, and making sure those key members disseminate that meeting information clearly to their departments. And people must be held accountable, which is a tough one.

If the company behaves as one unit, this will definitely come across in its channels.

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