As Middle East and North African (MENA) countries plan to move away from their economic dependence on oil and gas, adoption of Digital Transformation has rapidly picked up pace across all the industry verticals in the region. As per IDC, annual spending on digital transformation initiatives in MENA market is expected to pass $40 billion by 2022. The evolving customer demands and expectations have expedited the enterprise’s pursuit of digital innovations, resulting in the emergence of trends such as UI UX Design, that elevates customer’s experience.
In the past, aesthetics mattered only within the field of luxury products. But today it is not only important but must-have criteria for everyone using any kind of product. The impact of design is more evident in digital products as they are consumed by millions of users on a daily basis. The user creates perceptions about your product (web/mobile app) at the very first interaction. The biggest testament to support this statement is the explosion of fintechs globally. The easy to use financial solutions are being used by every third customer worldwide. UAE alone is home to one-third of fintech startups in the Mena region, witnessing a massive 230 per cent growth from 559 in 2015 to expected 1,845 by 2022. These fintechs are leveraging their easy to use platform, user-friendly interface and greater usability quotient to lure customers from traditional banking ecosystem. As enterprises make a strategic shift to deliver delightful user experience, User Interface Design and User Experience Design take the spotlight in the company’s short and long term business strategies.
Talking about the business strategy, the element of ambiguity around financial returns of user experience design has considerably declined over the last few years globally. The MENA market has shown a positive correlation with the trend. The launch of highly ambitious project TAMM by Abu Dhabi Govt, UAE, highlights the change in mindset in the direction to deliver a user-friendly product with a higher degree of self-service and data transparency. The other rising industries of the MENA region such as BFSI, healthcare, media and entertainment (M&E), manufacturing, retail, service, telecom and transportation are also rapidly adopting the customer-centric approach by empathising with the end-users in order to deliver the best solutions.
In today’s market, customers have high expectations from your product and service and if it fails to satisfy them, they’ll turn and move on to your competition that can. The way customers interact with a product has completely transformed now. Mobile and Web applications with embedded technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and machine learning allow customers get what they want almost exactly at the moment they want. This new and evolved customer is constantly connected and aware with the newer trends and is always keen to explore products with better features and usability. Some of the key expectations of users from digital products are:
Customers look for a service or product that offers a consistent experience across all touchpoints. Consistency demonstrates trustworthiness, which uplifts the confidence of customers who shop online and browse in-store. An aware customer no longer shies away from appreciating and condemning on social media. Poor customer experience immediately starts showing up on the market place reviews and feedback, damaging the brand value and potential business. A happy customer has the potential to become a brand evangelist, attracting new customers through word of mouth
Users expect their interactions with the application to mimic the look and feel of physical objects. Digital games are excellent examples of replicating the real-world experience on mobiles and computers. A similar approach is being used in the products of industries such as virtual dressing in e-commerce.
Customers expect to achieve a goal with exactness and ease. They expect the app to solve their concerns with minimal effort. Newer apps are focussed on reducing the cognitive load of the users by enabling an easy navigation design. Strategically this approach not only reduces the extra expense of maintaining a customer support team but also empowers the users with a quick solution to their query.
Personalisation of services is not a new concept anymore. A very basic example of a personal preference based portal is facebook, which shows feed to users based on their behaviour and interest. Customers love the kind of service that adjusts and emulates with user’s usage patterns. Design plays a crucial role in assuring persona-based offering to the end-users. In UAE, online apparel buyers expect more than just a seamless order, delivery, and returns process – 65% of customers expect brands to connect with them personally and treat them as individuals.
Every company wants a great looking website, a widely accepted app, a stylist logo, and eye-catching marketing collaterals. But the question remains, are they investing correctly and moving in the right direction to achieve that?
Let’s see some direct implications of design on the company’s growth
To impress customers can be a tough job. If the interface design is not catchy enough to motivate users to explore the product, there is high chance that they will jump out of the app/site. It takes about 0.05 seconds for users to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they want to stay or leave. The core purpose of designing an app is to invite users, turn them into active and engaged customers.
One example of creating a good first impression is the use of the progress bar, which gives a clear indication of how long the user has to wait to get a task done. Known finite waits are always prefered over the uncertain waits. This small feature significantly reduces the bounce rate of first-time users.
Good user experience is the best advertisement your business can have. Various parameters such as bounce rate, time spent on the website, number of new and returning visitors represent how popular your website is amongst your users. For mobile applications, the same can be measured by the popularity of the application on the market place. Positive reviews and feedback, and favourable word of mouth have become deciding factors for the users. Half the task is already accomplished when your happy and satisfied customers start to speak for your products.
Enterprises have identified the need of customer engagement strategies in order to engage the evolved customers. Retaining older customers is 10 times cheaper than acquiring new ones, and helps you build a more nuanced view of who your customers really are. Customer satisfaction score has a direct correlation with the design of the application. A pleasant experience collected while engagement with the product creates a bond between the user and the brand. The design of the app undoubtedly plays the most crucial role in enriching the experience of the users. An eye-pleasing design with a higher degree of usability boosts user’s motivation to use your product further in future. Fintechs have identified this trend and are amongst the early adopters of user-centric design aiming to make customers life easy.
In the era of smarter digital products, every single call to customer support reflects a failure of customer experience. Every time a customers’ online tasks are interrupted and they are forced to contact the organization, new unnecessary workflows are added to their journey. This creates an additional burden on the organization which requires workforce deployment resulting to increase in cost. A design based on the customer journey and persona mapping helps to address this issue, which directly impacts the bottom line of a company.
The widely popular chatbots have been effective in cutting the cost of customer support by 30%. This feature has not only improved the efficiency of the workforce, but has also reduced the response time for user’s queries.
If thoughts are not put into how the application should function and how it will be used by the target audience, the application might not turn out to be of great use to the users. Developers spend hours on making the product functional, but if the users can’t navigate around smoothly they are not going to use it. This would require a rework which would significantly raise the cost of the project. This complication can be easily addressed by implementing a design-driven development model, which provides extensive insights on user behaviour, needs and challenges.
User Research has become an important step in design-driven product development, reducing rework and bug-fixing time by 80%. Understanding the users and empathising with them helps to determine how stakeholders interact and react with the product under different circumstances.
Today everybody wants to experience the best technology without spending too much of their time and exhausting their busy brains. Organisations are rapidly moving in the direction to reduce the cognitive load from the users while delivering them a tailored and impactful product specific to their needs. As UI and UX Design largely focus on the users’ satisfaction and pleasure, their significance in product development has become important. From the business point of view, UI and UX Design has become the core value proposition for many digital products, leaving behind price in a few cases. This trend is more evident in MENA market, where convenience, security and customization score is above pricing in the decision making. It’s time to offer your customers a reason to visit your product.