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This quote from American professor and marketing guru Theodore Levitt dates back to the 1960s and may well be familiar to you if you’re active in marketing:
“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”
What Levitt is saying here is that benefits win out over features. People want to know what they can achieve with a product or service rather than what the product does. The same goes for websites. Users don’t want to visit websites and spend time on them without an outcome of some sort.
Understanding what those outcomes are for users will fall out of research and insights and bring us to the concept of tasks and goals.
Designers should consider a user’s goals, and the tasks which those users will need to carry out in order to achieve them. A goal, for instance, might be to order a new phone online.
The tasks involved in achieving that particular goal will likely be a process of:
It certainly won’t be a one-dimensional activity of inputting credit card details!
If designers can deconstruct the process the user goes through into smaller tasks and then assess the challenges and pain points a user encounters in the carrying out of those tasks, the better prepared they are to create a better overall experience. These details matter, and this is fertile ground for user experience work.
Using the example of buying a phone online, let’s look at three of those tasks from a user’s point of view.
When searching, we might want to provide search mechanisms.
We might want to ask:
When comparing models, what criteria do users base their comparisons on? How can we make it easier for users to scan and identify this information? Is there functionality we might use to make comparison easier?
And finally, consider ordering. What other elements might a user want to add to their order? What kind of delivery options are they hoping for? Are there any additional costs we should make the user aware of?
These are just small examples of ways in which we should look at these online processes. By asking these questions, we begin to understand the user’s point of view. And by demonstrating empathy with the user, we can design more effectively for them.
A UX design process can often produce an excess of documentation. And as we work through a process, it’s worth bearing in mind that our work as designers is unlikely to be the end of the line. Whether we’re working in an agile or waterfall environment, we need to be efficient in what we’re handing over or passing on.
Synthesis of our work is as much a skill as the work itself. There may be particular constraints around what we are to produce in terms of a budget or of what can be achieved technically.
In the end, what we supply must represent our work.
Deliverables are not the goal; an effective outcome is. In short, outcomes beat deliverables every time!Back to Top
Rick Monro is UX Director at Fathom. He has extensive experience in user research, interaction design, user-centered design, and design strategy with private and public sector organisations throughout the UK and Ireland.
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ABOUT THIS DIGITAL MARKETING MODULE
The UX Design module will cover in depth the differences between interactive and presentational communication, illustrating how the priority of the marketer shifts from getting attention in a presentational environment, to giving attention in an interactive environment. You will understand how a user-focused approach to design impacts content planning, information architecture, customer-journey planning, prototyping, testing and validation, progressive-disclosure and other powerful approaches to the display and interactivity of content.