‘Lord Nelson! Lord Beaverbrook! Sir Winston Churchill! Sir Anthony Eden! Clement Attlee! Henry Cooper! Lady Diana! Maggie Thatcher – can you hear me, Maggie Thatcher! Your boys took one hell of a beating! Your boys took one hell of a beating!’ These famous words, uttered by Norwegian TV commentator Bjorge Lillelien on the occasion of Norway beating England 2–1 in Oslo in a World Cup qualifier in September 1981, could apply to experience design just as aptly as they do to football.
Unsurprisingly for a region of the world famed for its modern socialist democracies, the Scandinavians have always had a customer–service focused approach to marketing. We see this expressed in the marriage of creativity and function in IKEA furniture, the simplicity and accessibility of H&M clothing and the safety and quality of Volvo cars. They are globally recognised for their talent at combining function with aesthetics.
In short, they have understood and practiced experience design long before it became cool.
This has put them at a tremendous advantage when it comes to digitally communicating with the in–control user, because philosophically and culturally, many of their most successful organisations are hard–wired to heed customers and respond sensitively to market demands. They understand the importance of listening before they speak.
The Norwegian Cancer Society contributes to targeted efforts in cancer information, prevention, advocacy, research, care, and international cooperation. According to their own website, their main priority is to fund research. However by spending time with their users, understanding their needs and reviewing website analytics, they came to understand that the top four user needs on their website were treatment, symptoms, prevention and research. Donation, a key objective for the organisation, was in the bottom four needs, along with gifts, reading the annual report and reading press releases.
The website information was reoriented around treatment, symptoms, prevention and research with much less prominence given to donation on the home page. The results are staggering; 70% increase in one–time donations each month, 73% increase in total donation sum each month, 88% increase in monthly donors registered each month and 164% increase in members registered each month.
Sparebanken Sogn og Fjordane in Norway had a yet greater challenge. Like many banks they rely on a range of products across savings, investments, deposit, credit cards, mortgages and current account categories to drive revenue and commercial performance. And like many banks, each individual product owner believes that his or her product was the most important in the bank. For many banks in Western Europe, this would result in an internal clamour amongst product owners for space on the home page, with the classic carousel offering the Get out of Jail free card which everyone is looking for, except of course the lowly user.
Whatever about the specifics of product owners wanting their product to be promoted ahead of the others, the key desire for the bank was to increase awareness of and warm enquiries for their products. Again this was at variance with customers whose top desire was to log into their online personal banking.
Perhaps influenced by Norway’s cultural and philosophical background in design thinking, the bank decided to build an online experience around the user’s top needs and built a home page with logging in to online personal banking as the dominant content item. Individual product pages in turn were optimised specifically for search engines to send users directly to them, bypassing the home page, for specific product searches.
The result of this spectacularly simple customer–centred design decision?
A 520% increase in traffic to product pages.
For too long marketers have spoken in terms of customer touch–points. But the informed, information–hungry online user is hungry for outcomes. Our starting point for communication needs to be giving then what they need.
It is only when we have given our customers what they want that we have earned the right to tell them about what we want.
Carlsberg don’t do user–experience design, but if they did…