Anytime I go to a conference I get very analytical on my work as I am able to compare it to what a lot of other people are doing by conversations with piers and what is presented in the session. It is happening again last week at the HOW design conference where I am amazed that so few people are able to make the connection that user experience design can be used to support and build brand positioning.
It is a simple concept. When you are creating a Web site or online advertising make sure that the user experience is based out of the brand’s values and positioning. It is something that is more subconscious than visual design but in a lot of ways it is more powerful since it is what creates a large part of the emotion connection to interactive work. The easiest examples are always your own so here is an example of what I am talking about.
Based on LeMéridien’s core values of Chic, Cultured, Discovery, the creative concept for the re-designed website is ‘Discovery Starts with You’ and is targeted at the creative guest. When we set out to re-design LeMeridien.com we knew we had to create an experience that would let the guest experience the brand by giving them the ability to create art but tie it back to the business goal of the site and highlight our properties and book rooms. This is a lot harder than is sounds in a one line write up because the world’s of creativity and commerce have a hard time living together because each servers very different masters. In this case the solution was to let guests create a Moodboard where they chose photos that appealed to them and they were then able to arrange and size them into their own personal collage. This answered the brand position by letting the guest be able to create. We then took the collage and had the site back-end assign tags to the images and used their sizing to assign their importance to create a search that would return LeMeridien properties that matched their personal interests. This answered the business goal to drive revenue.
At it’s core this is just a search engine but the difference is that it was concepted and engineered through the lens of the brand that dictated that the functionality, IA and usability had to be more than the expected hotel search engine. So next time you have a marketing or Web deisgn project take a step back and look at the values and the target audience of the brand you are creating it for to see how you can engineer the user experience to support those goals.