In order to ensure your company is communicating effectively and efficiently across all digital touch-points and delivering optimal business value, it is critical that the User Experience (UX) is crafted to be frictionless and engaging.
The UX design process ensures that digital products are designed with the needs of both the business and the users front of mind, resulting in user journeys and interactions that are intuitive, informative and easy to use.
When interacting with a digital product, the user’s perception, action, motivation, and cognition integrate to form their user experience. An emotional response ensues. A seamless and consistent experience results in positive emotions and sentiments from the user. This instills trust, credibility, and brand loyalty. A negative experience however, such as not being able to find relevant information easily, leads to frustration, disengagement and is detrimental to the brand.
A great UX can be a vital differentiator between companies and provide businesses with an advantage. This is especially so in the increasingly noisy and competitive Investor Relations (IR) landscape. By delivering an engaging digital experience through a well-considered UX, the positive response of the user is value to the business.
UX design is a multifaceted discipline that considers usability, accessibility, content strategy, Information Architecture (IA), technology constraints and opportunities, performance, screen flows, interaction models and User Interface (UI) design.
The UX/design team are not only advocates for the end user, but are also responsible for engineering a cohesive digital strategy across all digital touch-points that delivers business results for the company.
In terms of IR products, the UX is nuanced and should be shaped around the core use cases for various stakeholders including current and prospective institutional and retail investors, analysts, journalists, and company employees.
The digital experience should strengthen the perception and understanding of the company by consistently delivering clear key messaging and relevant information in an accessible and user-friendly manner — on brand both visually and viscerally. A thoughtfully constructed experience has the power and potential to attract, inform, maintain and nurture relationships with your stakeholders.
It is imperative to observe and understand how stakeholders interact with digital products and what their core needs and expectations are; empathy is key to user-centred design. A heightened awareness of the unique characteristics, behaviours and motivations of the various user segments reveals a wealth of information that can be used to make accurate and informed product design decisions.
Understanding the target audience
During a recent project for an online reporting suite, Designate conducted user testing sessions to observe how shareholders (the target audience) interacted with the website across various devices. Participants gave feedback on themes such as usability, content, brand, and accessibility as they completed set tasks
This feedback assisted in making improvements to the website before launch. After go-live, Designate tracked user satisfaction levels by including a feedback survey form with various questions within the website. Designate also monitored user flows and other engagement metrics via analytics.
A key aspect to delivering maximum value and engagement is to implement a collaborative design process where key stakeholders are involved at relevant stages throughout the project — from discovery, definition, and ideation, through to visual design, development and validation.
The process should be iterative with a focus on continual improvement and refinement. Data and learnings to inform improvements can be extrapolated from qualitative and quantitative research and performance monitoring processes, including user testing and analytics. User behavioural patterns can be observed and pain points identified and corrected.
A complex and considered UX process behind the scenes allows for simplicity, clarity, and focus in the product’s user interface; an interface that aims to predict user needs and expectations and is accordingly designed for (anticipatory design).
Collaborative design process
In the discovery phase of the project, Designate held several workshops with the client to define key objectives and business goals, and to develop the content strategy and structure of the website.
Agency/client communication was continuous throughout the project to ensure that initial goals were being targeted and met.
The provision of compelling, relevant, easy to navigate content is fundamental in providing value for the user, enhancing stakeholder engagement, and eliminating unnecessary exit points.
Many companies incorrectly assume their digital communication problems stem from a scarcity of information provided to the user. This often leads to over-complicated UI’s and information overload. In reality, it is the attention of the user that is becoming the increasingly scarce commodity — therefore clarity, simplicity, prioritisation of information and ease of use of products should be the driving forces behind interface design and content strategy.
Ideally, copy should be written and tailored specifically for online and be suitable for all devices (desktop, tablet, mobile). Language and vocabulary should be accessible and relatable to all stakeholders. The content needs to be well structured with a clear hierarchy, and a logical flow of information.
The concept of progressive disclosure allows information to be consumed and processed gradually, revealing only what is essential at first, then allowing the user to drill down and explore topics of interest in more detail at their convenience.
Use of pertinent media such as imagery, illustrations, diagrams, information-graphics, and videos can all be used to support and clarify a communication piece, bolster brand impact and increase user engagement. These visual clues also assist stakeholders, such as potential investors, in understanding your business’s operations and value proposition, allowing them to make informed investment decisions.
Designate worked closely with the client to select and combine key pieces of content from printed reports (Annual Report, Shareholder Review, Sustainability Report and Notice of meeting) to produce a single cohesive communication piece for online.
The homepage was designed to serve as an overview of the site. It contained highlights and snippets of content that allowed users to gain a high level understanding of the financial results and strategy, quickly and easily. Users could then delve deeper into the details and data provided on subsequent pages.
The look and feel of IR digital products should be aligned with the brand, create trust and instill confidence in the company. Use of digital style guides and pattern libraries facilitate consistency in the UI and interaction models.
Clarity and focus is provided by minimising unnecessary UI distractions and visual noise — allowing the content and messaging to shine through.
Learned user behaviours can be harnessed by leveraging established, frequently used interaction models and provide adequate visual clues (affordances) to indicate interactive elements. ‘Best practice’ design principles should be adhered to where possible, many of which are based on psychology and human behavioural theory.
Digital products should be developed and optimised to be lightweight and performant. Speed is an extremely important factor in UX design.
Above all else, ensure that the user journey throughout the product is seamless, easy to navigate and without dead-ends.
Digital style guide and standards
For the online reporting suite Designate produced a branded digital style guide. The guide ensured consistency in production and efficiency increases in design and development processes.
Treatment of images, use of custom typography, smooth transitions and interactions through the digital style guide all combined to support the brand.
A heuristic evaluation of the site ensured that accessibility standards were met. Quality Assurance (QA) testing was continually carried out during development phase to detect and rectify any functionality issues.
UX design plays a significant role in shaping the perception of a company’s brand. Branding extends far beyond the visual. It’s a sum of all experiences across the various touch-points of a company’s products and services. The far reach and opportunity provided by digital technology (websites, apps and social media) allows companies to create valuable and memorable experiences that enhance brand awareness, credibility and reputation.
Designate’s strategic and collaborative processes create cohesive, seamless user experiences that promote and maintain strong corporate brands and deliver business value through stakeholder engagement.
We believe a comprehensive, integrated approach to IR communications, allows companies to maximise reach and potential. By strategising, designing, testing and deploying best-of-class digital products and solutions that communicate more effectively and efficiently — a competitive advantage and growth can be achieved.
Lead UX Designer — Designate