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User Experience, or UX. It’s a term that’s becoming more commonly used outside of the tech development community these days – meaning our clients have started using it – and, while still a little ‘buzzwordy’ (word of the day), is a term with substance and relevance.

Whether it’s converting a sale, promoting an event, or simply telling your customers who you are, for a web or tech development to become truly successful, a well-considered UX or customer journey is an essential ingredient, adding flavour to the content, branding and coding wizardry. We’re no different at Nuance & Fathom, as we ensure that any dev projects go through a rigorous architectural and experiential and wireframing process before my well-groomed designer hands get anywhere near making it look pretty.

And why should it be any different? It’s now seen as a standard, and good UX is slowly becoming ingrained industry-wide, while top agencies all have UX specialists on hand. So – UX is necessary for tech and web development shocker – great, thanks for clearing that up.

At N&F we see UX as a given for tech projects, but we also see it as a given for print and campaign projects too. In fact, we believe UX and customer journey planning is essential for any form of marketing communications. The Nielsen Norman Group, a respected thought-leader on UX best practice, describe UX as an “…experience [that] encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services and its products.” So, why limit UX to the tech world?

Unfortunately, too many marketing and design agencies view offline marketing and design for print as an untouchable holy grail on 300gsm offset, their award-winning pieces of brochure art, unsullied by such commonalities as a call-to-action, no true reason for existing beyond ‘it looks great’.

One of our clients, prior to working with us, was told by their agency that their products needed to be overhauled as they didn’t look very good in the marketing materials. (Needless to say that since we’ve been working with them, they haven’t changed a single product, but their phones are ringing more than they used to). Instead of looking at the process of how the customer engages with a brand, from first impression to point of conversion, and designing a user experience that pushed all the right buttons and made all the right associations, they were more concerned about how it looked in their portfolio.

For us ‘print junkies’ there are certainly lessons to be learned from our coding counterparts. Take the Amazon website for example, it’s not going to win any design awards any time soon, but boy, it does its job! I shudder to think of the man hours spent planning how people interact with the site, split testing buttons or plotting all those ‘related item’ algorithms. And what’s more, they’ve got the figures and analytics to back up each of those decisions. The numbers do not lie.

I’m not saying that we should ignore the aesthetic – I wouldn’t have bought a Phillippe Starck juicer if I did, and there is certainly an immeasurable emotional resonance in communicating visually – it’s just that, when creating printed visual marketing communications with an objective, the objective is paramount. A harmonious balance of objective and aesthetic can only be achieved by becoming content-driven designers, wrapping the outcome in the aesthetic.

Take a cue from those web guys and their numbers and apply some principles of UX in print design. Don’t design for designers, don’t design for awards and don’t hide behind visuals. Design for your client, design for their objectives, and embrace the figures.


Article originally written as part of Nuance & Fathom’s portfolio.

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