During Startup Week Buffalo 2020, Aaron Smith had the distinct honor of participating as one of the keynote speakers for a panel discussion on the “Future of Experience Design.” The panel discussion brought together four innovative leaders in the web design space to discuss the changing Customer (CX) and User Experience (UX) landscape, leading to an engaging, lively discussion of the most pressing topics surrounding user experience.
Over the course of an hour, the panel discussed topics ranging from how to help a client understand the customer’s path to accessibility, the future of design trends, and using design thinking to attract more customers and enhance the user experience.
Kicking the discussion off with a question about how can one go about helping clients understand the critical role accessibility plays in obtaining customers, Aaron pointed out the importance of assisting the client in focusing the goals of their work while also accounting for the opportunity to capture edge cases.
One of the key highlights of the conversation dealt with a universal topic that impacts all industries: how can a business better utilize user experience to best serve the customer? Throughout the panel discussion, Aaron and the other experts emphasized the need to help the customer set clear goals at the start, and to understand that every touchpoint with a client is an “experience”—both good and bad. And if bad, there is still a chance to turn it back into a positive. As Aaron points out during the conversation, “the most successful businesses are centered around user experience.” every touchpoint is an opportunity to give the user an enjoyable experience.
This salient point led to a greater conversation surrounding the idea that the web-based experience now touches all facets of the business. Experience design—be it customer or user—can no longer be compartmentalized within the IT department, considered an afterthought among sales and marketing teams. Nor can it be ignored by any department in a company that provides back office support to a customer. The user experience must be treated as an end-to-end journey from the point of initiation with the customer through the end of the relationship.
The conversation later dove into the notion that the user experience relationship with the customer will be a forever evolving one. Therefore, experience design must always be treated as an ongoing investment by the company to ensure that it remains atop the changing demands of customers. For example, as pointed out by the speakers, while today web-based experiences still serve as a focal point, we are already witnessing the pivot to mobile-based experiences. And we are not that far away from augmented reality options. It is imperative that the business evolves with technology in order to meet the shifting demands of the clients.
Further adding to the importance of focusing on a positive user experience is the customer’s newfound power to provide immediate impact based on his/her personal experience. Thanks to the growth of customer review sites/applications, customer opinion carries an immediate impact on potential new customers. If too many customers have a poor experience and reflect that in their ratings, a business will struggle to stay afloat. However, if reviews left behind are overwhelmingly positive experiences, businesses can realize exponential growth.
Ultimately, the overarching thread in the panel discussion centered around the idea that this is now the area of growth generation where companies see the greatest opportunity to expand their influence and reach. As businesses continue to rely more heavily on web- and mobile-based business to survive, great emphasis is placed on creating a unique and impactful customer and user experience.