Earlier this month, hundreds of designers, strategists, and developers converged at the annual Delight Conference in Portland. As fellow proponents of delightful brand experiences, we attended to hear from leaders at Intuit, Zappos, NASA, and others.
Focusing on tactics and strategies to deliver delight in a digital world, we saw many themes that connect with our thinking around creating human-centric omnichannel experiences.

Think beyond what you think you can achieve

Suzanne Pellican of Intuit opened the day with a tone of optimism, pushing for customer-focused culture. As Suzanne explained, it may be difficult (or impossible) to teach everyone in the organization good user research skills, but it’s realistic—and critical—to impart a sense of empathy for the needs of end customers.

When brands and retailers turn to us overwhelmed by the need to build exceptional omnichannel experiences, we start by aligning everyone around a consistent vision through the eyes of their customers. Design thinking and customer journey mapping sessions can help reach that shared vision.

As both Suzanne and Golden Krishna of Zappos described, there is usually natural pushback on big ideas. Whether holding solutions “too preciously” or opting for cheaper/easier/safer alternatives, toxic cultural behaviors can prevent progress in a customer-centric direction. With the rapidly changing ecommerce landscape, brands simply can’t afford to negate customer needs.

Focus on the feeling first, then the functionality

Relating her rowing experiences to the role of a designer, Erin Moore from Twitter described the inseparable nature of technique and function to emotion. As designers, Erin said, it’s our job to focus on what we make people feel before we determine how to deliver it.

“If people don’t feel something when they use your product, then you’ve done nothing but build an app.”

In our recent work with a client in the airline industry, decisions made around information architecture, user experience, and digital design was driven by touchpoints in the customer journey. Focusing on key moments of potential frustration or delight, we could guide design decisions to simplify and improve interactions through a customer-centric lens.

As Erin described, the thread between “How something works” and “How something feels” is what creates an overall delightful experience.

Don’t negate the need for human interaction

Amber Case deftly addressed the tendency to dive too far into technology-first experience design to champion a calmer, smarter approach. In what she deems an “era of interruptive technology,” Amber’s case against technology for technology’s sake was clear.

As she explained, thoughtful technology should

  • enable multitasking,
  • inform in context,
  • communicate appropriately,
  • and respect needs and norms.

“The right amount of tech is the minimum amount to solve the problem,” she noted. Although over-automation may be tempting, human curation of the technology is important to build better experiences.

When we think of brands and retailers moving towards in-store technology to support omnichannel commerce, we encourage them to consider the real user context to serve their customers. Providing information to sales associates at key moments or enabling customer interactions between devices can make or break a brand experience.

From culture shifts to design methodologies, it’s clear that many brands are moving towards more customer-centric experiences. As the ecommerce world continues to evolve, we look forward to helping clients meet consumer expectations to deliver delight across touchpoints.