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IT's role in enhancing the emotional user experience

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Guest post by Arthur Cole

In a digital economy, a good user experience is critical to the customer relationshIT's_role_in_enhancing_the_emotional_user_experience.jpgip. Enterprises that can forge meaningful emotional connections with their users—whether they are customers, partners, or casual users—will have a distinct advantage in creating value from its services portfolio.

Users tend to become more invested in a website if they feel they are part of a community—one of the core elements in the success of social media platforms. Also, different emotions can elicit markedly different responses and affect purchasing decisions. This is adding new dimensions to the art/science of web design and content development, known as emotional UX.

"In the last five to seven years," says Jose Coronado, founder and principal of ITX Digital, "IT has played a stronger strategic leadership role in the organization by embracing a design-thinking culture, paying closer attention to users—both internal and external—and moving more swiftly and agilely when developing applications."

Emotional UX replaces today's user experiences with ones that evoke strong feelings, primarily by appealing to key aspects of individuals' emotional intelligence, to create lasting brand engagement. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as effective storytelling, viral campaigning, and entertainment, but the overall goal is the same as it was in the vaudeville days: always leave them wanting more.

The CIO's role

How does this impact IT? Now a key player in the business process, the CIO won't have to become an expert on the nuts and bolts of emotional UX, but it will help to acquire working knowledge of several key points, including:

  • The language of branding and design. This is crucial when it comes to supporting what is now a data-driven process. By knowing what your design team is after, you will be better able to acquire the data necessary to support emotional UX and run it through the proper analytics tools, and then tailor your monitoring capabilities and metrics to track user behavior once the experience has gone live.
  • How users behave on different devices. It's an omni-channel universe now, and the mobile app is quickly eclipsing the web page as the predominant data portal. Knowing the different ways in which users interact with their access points can go a long way toward tailoring data infrastructure for optimal satisfaction.
  • UX design skills. In many cases, the UX design team will function as a part of IT, which means the CIO will need to know what talents are required and how to assess them, says Coronado. These can be quite different from those found in traditional data and infrastructure management circles, since it involves disciplines ranging from psychology and marketing to graphics and software development. In general, though, Coronado says a solid team should have six core components: UX design, UX research, information architecture, visual design, front-end development, and accessibility design.
  • How the mind works. The CIO should also understand why emotional UX is such a valuable tool in a digital economy and the role it plays in the decision-making process. A lot of this is subjective, but there is a wealth of solid research into how the brain absorbs and processes information, the behavioral characteristics of different personality types, and how things like color and the timing of events can influence emotional states.

But more than simply figuring out how to integrate emotional UX into the broader enterprise services portfolio, the CIO and others in the executive suite should establish clear policies governing its use. "From the CEO down," says Coronado, "everyone in the organization understands that making user-centric applications is critical to the company's future success."

Emotional UX is a valuable concept, but like any complex idea, it requires careful consideration to produce the maximum return. CIOs who are familiar with the concepts and needs of good UX, and who add an understanding of the power of emotional UX, will help their digital brands create more engaging—and more profitable—relationships with customers.

  • IT Strategy and Leadership
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