Why “UX” is a Waste of Time and Brand Storytelling is the Future

Men working in office

Okay, so that headline is largely for click bait, but only because UX as an industry continues to swell, it’s certainly forming a bigger part of our agency offering, so isn’t it right that we recognise how it has evolved and the value it’s adding for businesses today?

UX (User Experience) is the process of designing and developing useful intuitive experiences for people when they’re using websites and apps, and the founding principles are based on designing more efficient interactions. Bright yellow buttons, descriptive taxonomies, and yes, the logo sitting top left. At least that’s what it always has been. It used to involve analysis of the shopping basket, then the wider conversion funnel and latterly the product selection process. But now it has become broader, and we find ourselves plotting long arduous customer journey maps that list every possible consumer touch-point.

But shouldn’t it be more strategic than that? Why has it taken marketers so long to identify the importance of a co-ordinated brand experience?

Well we could blame Amazon. They wrote the book on functional best practice, spent the first 20-years focussed entirely on their website user journey. And they proved it works, by optimising their site so that every penny is found in their conversion metrics. The basic principles that eBay still struggle with. But I can’t help wondering if Amazon, given their scale, hasn’t just become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Their approach to UX has largely conditioned on-site behaviour that has now become best practice for the rest of us? How often have you sat in a meeting where the CEO quips “just design it like Amazon, they’re the standard, why re-invent the wheel?”

Well the revolution has begun. As marketers we have to innovate if we want to stay relevant. Like all brands the experience we offer consumers defines our relevance to them. And like all brands who aren’t Amazon, we’re not Amazon, so doing it like Amazon is probably not going to be the right answer. It’s only 3-years since marketers and technologists have properly laid together and started to think about UX in its wider context. And the revelation is that this long list of customer journey touch-points is actually little more than a to-do list. Finally there is recognition that the journey is as important as the destination.

So this is where UX folk the world over can soar. No longer do they need to specify where the UX process begins and ends on a website, because it begins everywhere, even before you arrive! UX is the customer journey and the customer journey is the brand experience.

So we urge marketers and the UX community to embrace this change and acknowledge that today it’s all about storytelling, writing a brand narrative that can start in any number of places, online and offline. It comes together through advertising, when you’re browsing, placing an order, even waiting for your package to arrive. Ignore the collective experience at your peril, because ultimately that is where your brand will leave its mark.