Good UX, Happy Customer: How to Design for Engagement

The French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent famously declared that “fashions fade, but style is eternal”. The same is true of good user experience (UX): marketing trends may come and go, but user-centred design has never slipped from importance. Yet marketers still make the mistake of dismissing UX as the visual design elements of a product or website. In reality, a well-designed UX is the roadmap that guides potential buyers through the sales journey – which is as emotional as it is rational. 

Effective UX leads to higher engagement and spending: 86% of customers are willing to pay a premium for a good buying experience. Conversely, bad UX frustrates would-be customers and turns them away. And while marketing technology (MarTech) tools are key to streamlining the customer journey and improving UX, many brands are not using them at an optimal level.

A graph of MarTech tools improving UX
Source: NN Group

How Brands Fail at UX

There are three common reasons why brands drop the ball when it comes to elevating their customer experience. 

1. Missing UX’s true purpose

The look and feel of a product or website not only shapes the customer’s first impressions of a brand, but it also ushers them through the funnel from awareness to purchase. Brands sabotage themselves by thinking of UX as merely the surface design and worse, by forgetting to link UX elements from one stage of the funnel to the next.

2. Missing the big picture

A survey revealed that 50% of organisations had little to no understanding of the customer journey –akin to flying blind from a UX perspective. Without that visibility, brands won’t be able to solve for the inevitable pain points and frictions that are bound to crop up. That lack of awareness also tends to be interpreted by end users as having low customer empathy.

3. Missing customer data

Working with customer data remains a sore point for marketers. From collecting and storing to analysing and deriving insights from data, brands still lack the expertise to realise the full value of their marketing initiatives and in turn, continue to miss out on opportunities for personalisation. But with 80% of shoppers pointing out that personalised experiences are a strong driving factor in their purchase decision, such missed opportunities will be a long-term negative for brands.


Three Steps to Great UX 

Brands need to think of UX as customer engagement on three levels, with each step bringing their prospects further down the funnel: 

Three levels of UX
Source: NN Group

1. Interaction Level: Better Interface

Great UX starts from focusing on a single user’s interaction. Some questions to ask at this stage include:

  • What does the user want?
  • What are the user’s preferences?
  • How can the brand satisfy the user’s desires?

2. Journey Level: More Engagement

Over the course of the buyer journey, would-be customers can go from reading a product page online to checking out reviews sites to asking their friends on WhatsApp before making a purchase. Brands need to map out this entire journey of customer interactions and look at the circumstances that lead to a sale, as well as those that don’t. Zooming out to the journey level will help marketers find broken touch points in the funnel and see what their UX may be lacking. And with user journeys becoming increasingly non-linear, it’s important to ensure customers can go from visiting a physical store to finding their favourite items on sale via an eCommerce platform. To achieve that kind of transition, marketers have been turning to customer data platforms (CDP), a MarTech tool that combines offline and online data to enable personalisation at scale.

3. Relationship Level: Retaining Customers

At the end of each buyer journey is an opportunity to repeat the cycle through additional purchases and post-sales support. Over time, those interactions produce a wellspring of data that can be used to create a holistic view of each customer’s preferences, desires, and purchase intent. Brands need to home in on those insights to optimise their retention rate and lifetime values, for instance by offering loyalty rewards or up-selling and cross-selling relevant products and services.

Spark Joy With UX

A graph of UX joy

Whether customers remember that a brand sparked joy has everything to do with how much effort they put into the UX. Doing that well requires collaboration from not only UX designers, but also marketers, business managers, and end users themselves. Given its importance in the marketing value chain, brands should go the extra mile to design thoughtful customer experiences that delight.


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Yih Cheng Yak

Head of Consulting,
Marketing Technology