25 July 2006

Brand experience in user experience design [UX Matters]

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Bang & Olufsen web site
This article by Steve Baty attempts to identify the appropriate role for brand values as one project objective within the broader framework of user-centered design.

If two organizations that provide similar services or products to similar markets both applied a typical user-centered design process, one might logically conclude that they would develop similar Web sites. User research during the early stages of both projects would uncover similar goals and objectives for the target audience—which is the same for both Web sites—and, in turn, would lead to similar results.

Frameworks such as Jesse James Garrett’s “Elements of User Experience” provide a rich structure for practitioners approaching a user experience project, but do little to identify or promote the role of brand during either the definition or design phases of a project. Similarly, process diagrams such as “Designing the User Experience” from the UPA—the “snakes and ladders” poster—focus on the importance of deliverables such as user profiles, task analyses, and usage scenarios portraying user interfaces in ways that do not jeopardize brand perception. Instead, we should consider how the visual design, the interaction design, the information architecture—in fact, the entire user experience—can positively contribute to brand image. By creating a user experience that is appropriate to our audience, business goals, and the competitive landscape, we can positively reinforce our customers’ brand experience.

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