Category : UX/UI

Media & Entertainment UX/UI

Building cross-platform OTT apps: important guidelines for design & development

Every day, technology makes it easier, faster, and more affordable for businesses and individuals to communicate online with each other. Today more and more of this progress has been centered on over-the-top (OTT) brands. Through OTT, movie buffs can see classic and newly released films virtually anywhere and anytime. Sports fans throughout the world can attend exclusive athletic events that are happening thousands of miles away. And professional broadcasters, as well as the major networks, can reach wider audiences than ever before via mobile phones, digital media players, personal computers, and smart TVs.

But ensuring that users get the best experience from this technology demands design and development that meets certain criteria. Meeting these standards helps broadcasters retain and build the loyalty of their customer base, which is crucial to the success of any business. Here are some suggestions to help broadcasters design and develop OTT apps that provide the best viewing experience for users now and in the future.

Three Areas to Focus on While Building Your OTT App

1. The quality of the playback experience

Sounds obvious, right? It’s certainly the aim of such OTT leaders as Discovery+, Netflix, and Prime. Here are four elements that ensure a positive playback experience:

OTT playback experience focus areas

  • Top video resolution

– Whatever device is being used, from Android to a large-screen smart TV, to Roku, the picture should be clear, sharp, and provide the ultimate viewing experience. To ensure that this is the case make sure the content supports various options including 4K, HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos.

  • Little or no buffering

– Whether a viewer wants to watch a rerun of a favorite classic TV episode or a new video, they hate waiting for the show to start. That wait is called buffering and is due to pre-loading segments of data when streaming video content. Various things impact the length of time it takes to upload data, but using a good capacity CDN/Server helps to speed things up, preventing delays and user dissatisfaction.

  • A way to fix errors

– Stuff happens. And when there’s a problem with OTT, the faster it’s fixed the happier your audience – and you – will be. So, plan ahead. Engage a service like Video Analytics to monitor and correct errors as soon as possible.

  • Basic UI

– Consider the example of Amazon Prime. Without using anything more complex than a basic UI, it offers access to tons of content and an excellent video-watching experience for users all over the world.

2. Convenient content discovery

Making it quick and easy for users to find relevant content across devices and platforms is how companies like Netflix, Prime, and Discovery have become industry leaders. The secret is to use technologies like AI/ML to build robust recommendation engines based on a viewer’s usage history.

Convenient content discovery in OTT

3. The right framework

There are two different options to choose from when it comes to building your OTT app framework The first is having your developers rewrite and redesign the app’s functionality in the native development language.

Frameworks to develop OTT app

Here’s a brief description of three native frameworks we recommend:

  • Android Mobile & TV

– This makes use of the same framework for both TV and mobile devices using the same logic but a different UI layer that adapts to the TV experience with minimal effort. For example, Kotlin with MVVM architecture and ExoPlayer for playback.

  • IOS and Apple TV

– This app also uses the same business logic for Android and TV but with a different UI layer for TV. Using Swift programing language with AVPlayer for playback is an example.

  • Web, LG TV, Samsung TV, and other web OS-based TV and STBs

– This is a web application for all of these devices.

There’s no question that using the native approach to building an OTT app produces the best performance when it comes to memory and CPU optimizations. But a native framework demands a special team to build and maintain the app and can be expensive.

Fortunately, technologies such as Flutter and React-Native enable a more cost-effective approach to the development of cross-platform OTT apps. With a shared codebase and a hybrid framework, these apps work well on all devices like Android, iOS, TV, Web, and set-top box (STB). And by eliminating the separate codebases demanded by a native approach, they can be built and maintained by a single team.

With a Cross-platform OTT App You Can Still Get All of These Benefits

Expanded user reach

  • Since different devices and operating systems can be served with the same app, OTT brands enjoy a wider audience regardless of how users view them. Users are able to tune in to their favorite shows, films, digital channels, and live broadcasts 24/7 on various devices no matter where they are.

Consistency of viewer experience

  • One of the most attractive features of OTT apps is that they ensure a high-quality viewer experience on a wide range of digital devices and operating systems. Even if the user switches between devices with different screen sizes that are located miles away from each other, the OTT app ensures that the interface and experience remain the same.

Faster app development

  • When cross-platform apps are built using a hybrid approach, they take less time to develop, maintain, and upgrade. Tools such as Flutter and React-Native provide faster development cycles because developers can “code once and deploy everywhere.” In addition, any updates are synced automatically for all platforms and devices.


  • Since a hybrid approach allows a single OTT team to take care of everything, there is no need to hire different teams for developing and maintaining different frameworks. This saves money throughout the design and development and for the entire life cycle of the hybrid OTT brand.

The choice is yours. But whether you build a native or almost-native app with just a single code base for most platforms, you’ll find that OTT apps are a worthwhile investment in the future success of your business. Here are some key reasons why:

Live streaming

  • Live streaming allows viewers a chance to see a performance, an athletic contest, or a political event as it’s actually happening. That’s no doubt why live stream holds the attention of users ten to twenty times longer than pre-recorded videos. In the first quarter of 2021, live streaming accounted for twenty-four percent of global OTT viewing.
  • Of course, crafting a live-streaming experience demands its own approach to design and development including these recommended best practices. But adding a feature to broadcast live content on your OTT app may be worth it. For example, live streaming a famous cricket event, Indian Premier League (IPL) helped Disney + Hotstar add seven million new subscribers to their subscriber base.

A library of localized content

  • Users love good content even if they don’t speak the language of the country where it comes from. Multi-lingual subtitles and audio descriptions make it easy for users around the world to consume more localized content. For example, ninety-five percent of the users watching Squid Games on Netflix were living outside Korea.
  • You too can include localized content on your platform to attract new users from all over the globe. Just add subtitles and audio descriptions in a number of different languages. You could also experiment with different genres, themes, and creative styles, which would not only attract new viewers but enhance the experience of your current subscribers.

Built for connected TV

  • Every year more and more viewers are switching from traditional cable networks to connected TV. Currently, forty-four percent of households have dropped cable altogether while a full eighty-two percent of viewers are watching connected television on a regular basis. Building an OTT app for this market is clearly a worthwhile investment in your business’s future.

Access to multiple channels on different devices

  • Continuity is king when it comes to developing OTT apps. The content should automatically be synchronized across different platforms and devices to prevent friction in the viewing experience. Users can switch from one device to another and still access different channels with just a single sign-on.
  • You can create 4K videos that can be streamed on Roku devices, Apple TV, Fire TV, Android TV, and some web-based smart TV platforms such as Samsung’s Tizen and WebOS. Just make sure to pay attention to the screen size and other functionalities while building the app. Here’s what we did for Magnolia Network, USA.

Magnolia case study by Robosoft Technologies

You Also Have a Choice of Subscription Models

OTT brands can choose from several different revenue models. Here’s a description of each:

  • Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) gives users access to the entire content library for a subscription fee.
  • Advertising Video On Demand (AVOD) allows users to access free content in exchange for viewing ads.
  • Free Ad-supported Streaming TV (FAST) is a no-cost, high-quality alternative to cable TV. Instead of the library of user-chosen content available 24/7 on AVOD, it has linear channels that deliver scheduled programming to a mass audience on a one-to-many basis.
  • Transactional Video On Demand (TVOD) also called pay-per-view, works well for live streaming of special events such as sports or worldwide premier of popular movies.

You can experiment with these different revenue strategies to find out which one works best for you. For example, you might use a combination of AVOD and SVOD to serve free content and upgrade the user to premium, gated content. You can also include exclusive live-stream content and charge on a per-view basis. The flexibility in revenue models gives users the choice to view the content as they desire while providing a revenue stream for you.

Other features that may be used to differentiate your brand are Chromecast (casting content from mobile to TV), offline download for mobile apps, mini-player, Picture in Picture (PIP), and DRM. You might also consider playback features like audio track selection, quality selection, and playback speed control.

A Final Note — Retention Is the New Growth Mantra

Typically, OTT players like Netflix lose almost one percent of their subscribers on a monthly basis. In the first quarter of 2021, this represented a loss of 200,000 subscribers for Netflix and the revenue they produced. That’s why customer retention is as essential to broadcaster success as acquisition.

You can boost retention by applying these data-driven design-thinking principles as well as:

  • Adding features that make your OTT app easier to use.
  • Creating a seamless experience across all devices and platforms.
  • Testing new and innovative designs to meet the changing needs of the users.
  • Providing a positive reinforcement or reward to the user for using the app.
  • Building a friction-free onboarding process.
  • Personalizing recommendations based on users’ behavior patterns and preferences.
  • Listening to the user to make them feel valued.

Ultimately, acquisition and retention come down to following one universal principle – “keep the customer happy.” And designing and developing a cross-platform OTT app is a step in the right direction for today and tomorrow.

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Airline Digital Transformation UX/UI

New Technologies Enhancing UX in Airlines Industry

UX design has been a critical aspect of aviation for a long time, from the creation of cockpit systems to the development of cabin design and passenger experience. With the introduction of more refined UI and new technologies like AI/AR, and Biometrics, airlines are continuously looking at ways to enhance UX in Aviation. These exciting new technological advancements in the aviation industry are being enabled by robust new user experiences.

From the past, airlines have already been making significant efforts in improving the passenger experience from varied seating choices to chef-designed meals. Aircrafts are now also able to access real-time data directly from the ground, improving situational awareness and increasing control capabilities. Mobile devices will also gain access to wider navigation information and improved passenger services, ensuring that users of their devices will better understand why they’re using it.

However, improving customer experience is a never ending process and even now passengers tend to report that they are left looking for more in terms of improved UX. In a world where customer is king, it falls on the aviation industry as a whole to tackle its UX challenges and find CX improvement areas. Only then it may be able to appeal to the next-generation of customers.

Some UX Challenges and CX Improvement Areas in the Aviation Industry

According to McKinsey, the overall traveler satisfaction level hasn’t seen any kind of decline post pandemic. In fact, many have found the travel experience to be better than it was before the pandemic.

Flight and hotel experiences comparison post pandemic

Source: McKinsey

But these surprising numbers in customer satisfaction are mostly derived from leisure travelers who maybe just feeling happy to be on the road again. There are still major UX challenges and improvement areas like flight cancellations, delays, rebooking hassle, compensation merry-go-round, loss of time and money among others.

These are just a few examples of the vast majority of UX challenges generally faced by customers while traveling via air. Some major challenges and improvement areas in customer experience journey are:

#1 Non-uniform travel experiences

Till now aviation companies were looking to continuously improve only the in-flight passenger experiences while somewhat disregarding the other touchpoints for passengers. But now there is a need to improve the customer journey in all aspects of their travel by working towards an omnichannel experience. This will provide a seamless end-to-end customer experience by airlines from booking tickets to arriving at their destination.

In our previous article, we have talked about designing a deeper, more intimate airport experience for travelers. It breaks down the whole flying experience to seven stages and provides valuable UX recommendations for each.

#2 Adequate pre and post flight information

The new generation of customers are driven by seamless smartphone experiences and seek for the same everywhere. A big step to achieve this is by providing important notifications via normal text or via app notification. Airlines are now expected to be able to provide pre- and post-flight information, timely updates and assistance to customers.

#3 Longer processing time

Earlier, the check-in experience was already a tedious task, now add new norms after the pandemic and you got a steep challenge to keep your wits end together. The new health check regulations have undeniably added more minutes to the long waiting time of passengers patiently waiting for their turn to check-in.

#4 Undeniable influence of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)

While OTA websites drive most of the traffic, the actual purchase is generally made on the airlines’ own website/app. Still, when it comes to easy website navigation and other UI/UX features, airline websites lose the battle. Even in today’s time many travelers find booking a ticket very stressful and confusing from airlines’ own website.

#5 Increase in CX while maintaining operational costs

FSC or LCC carriers used to cater to very different class of passengers who were either driven by flight experience or price. As it is becoming a challenge for aircraft carriers to attract new set of passengers, they are looking for ways to attract both these set of customers without compromising much on customer experience.

In our article on digitalization effects on leisure and travel industries, we pitched a Right Price Model for airline business which tackles the important CX initiatives while maintaining operational costs.

How New Technologies are Boosting UX for Airlines [with examples]

One of the main enablers for improved UX is the emergence of newer technologies and their applications in aviation industry. These technologies are digitally transforming the aviation industry and paving the way for a customer centric airline industry.

Some of these technologies and their real life examples are listed below –

#1 Blockchain Technology

Using blockchain technology helps airlines to securely maintain user data and privacy across multiple touchpoints via a digital ledger. The technology can find its use in identity management & record keeping, cross integrations for seamless travel experience, building robust data security systems and airline maintenance.

Air France deployed blockchain technologies to create a COVID-19 test verification system via a mobile app during the pandemic. Singapore Airlines uses blockchain technology for their frequent flyer loyalty program using KrisPay. It also offers promotions to customers along with the program.

#2 Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR & VR)

AR and VR technology when used correctly can not only enhance the UX but also help in improving the customer experience of navigating through the airport or aircraft. The obvious uses of AR and VR technologies can be seen in airports. For e.g. AR/VR can show the passengers cabin experience on VR headsets, provide a digital tour guide, show fastest route through airport, etc.

The Gatwick airport uses AR to help passengers navigate the complex layout of the airport, and London City Airport has installed AR tech to help air traffic controllers with the vital job of keeping planes safe.

#3 Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI integrated with machine learning, and predictive analytics can help immensely in providing a connected and customized experience to the flyers. Further, AI also has the potential to ease out various operational processes of airlines like revenue management, managing ticket pricing, etc.

Shenzhen airport in China uses AI for AI airbridge allocation as well as for AI turnaround times. Air France implemented the specialized AI platform called Sky Breath that collects data from the flight, performs in-depth analytics, and helps identify fuel-saving opportunities and increase efficiency.

#4 Biometrics

Biometrics is not new to aviation. All the major and minor airports started implementing it since 9/11 to improve their security details. But over the years it has found use in improving passenger experience as well by improving the time and speed of check-in and other operations. In fact, use of facial recognition has been proposed for airports to cut down on flight delays by 80 percent.

Fraport in conjunction with Zwipe have agreed to trial their biometric solutions to boost security at Frankfurt airport. Miami International Airport and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) started rolling out biometric technology with a few airlines back in 2019. MIA is now seeking a huge biometric push by 2023 that will serve multiple purposes.

#5 Internet of Things (IoT)

The airline industry is using IoT to build a integrated ecosystem combining the organizational functions to increase efficiencies and provide a seamless experience to their customers.

Virgin Airlines have implemented IoT in its Boeing 787. Every single element on the plane is attached to a wireless airplane network, providing real-time IoT data on elements like performance, maintenance, etc. EasyJet’s Mobile Host at London’s Gatwick Airport combines the traveler flight details with live data from the airport’s Google indoor maps. This allows the airline to deliver updated check-in reminders, gate updates, and even personalized directions.

#6 Mobile Solutions

Airlines are using the mobile platform to connect with their customers throughout the passenger journey starting from booking a flight to deplaning it. Airlines can send real time alerts and notification on and off the airport.

Almost all airline carriers nowadays send real-time flight notifications from post booking to deplaning. These include self check-in, flight delay notifications, feedback, etc.

#7 Hearable, wearable & Voice Technologies

These technologies have increasingly found various usage in aviation from internal communication between flight attendants, voice searches, voice bookings to voice check-ins. These are also used in conjunction with in-flight connectivity which provide a real opportunity to drive conversion, upsell items on flight.

#8 Advanced Data Analytics and Big Data

Aviation companies collect traces of customer data from each stage of their travel journey, be it planning, research, reservation, stay, or post-travel review of their experiences. They can use insights from this data and advance analytics to provide a high degree of personalization to the travel experience which in turn could help in building customer loyalty.

These technologies have the potential to revolutionize air travel as we know it. The airline industry is on the precipice of a breakthrough, and most of the credit goes to the wave of digital transformation across the industry with CX as center.

Technology in each step of airline customer journey

As you can see how much of a bigger role technology plays in designing the UX of travelers. Let us further break down the whole customer journey into 5 different stages and discuss how technology plays a vital role in each step.

1. Pre-booking – Airlines can offer a digital tour guide powered by a personalization engine to show destination highlights based on individual customer preferences. Airlines use data analytics telemetry based pattern identification to drive loyalty management programs and offer dynamic rewards while booking.

2. Booking and Check-in – Airline companies can use geolocation based service and marketing apps to offer transportation services, bot assisted agent or self service changes. Geolocation also allows display of local language and currency on website for familiarity and convenience while booking and payment.

3. Airport Experience – Use of IoT baggage tags providing real-time tracking, self-tagging and activation. Biometric enabled check-in and security check. A combination of AR/VR enabled mobile computing, AI, robotics, Big Friendly Data (BFD), Intuitive UX, and wearable technology to help users in self-service check-in to intimate boarding experiences.

4. In-flight experience – Taking help of big data and hearable, wearable & voice technologies to enhance in-flight experiences with traveler loyalty services, communications, and purchases.

5. Post-travel – Mobile solutions to assist in un-boarding and baggage claims. Also, sending customer satisfaction surveys post travel for better personalization in upcoming travel plans.

How Airlines are Ensuring a Highly Personalized Experience for Customers

Introduced in 2012 by IATA, the NDC airline standard is now helping airlines break away from over-reliance on GDS intermediaries. Airlines can now offer more differentiation, push new offers right away on their website, and provide high class personalization to their customers.

The NDC standard ensures each ticket seller stays up to date with each airlines’ newest offers and products. Other benefits of NDC includes:

i) Direct access to upgrades, exclusive packages, or limited-time offers even when customer is booking from a third-party.

ii) High personalization according to individual preferences across customer journey.

iii) Advance level of comparisons for all airline options, including their different services, products, promotions and of course, prices.

iv) Speed to market while distributing products widely across third-party agents or sites.

v) Same content across airline website and travel agent sites.

In short, NDC allows airlines to take control of their purchase and distribution when dealing with customers. This ensures a high level of customer experience from the airlines.

Possibilities for Airline Industry

As new technologies find ways to integrate themselves across various industries, customer expectations are growing higher and higher. Technology is now playing a major role in UX design for the whole airport and airline experience for customers. Today, what looks mind boggling due to technology may become standard norms in near future.

It is very important for the aviation industry to keep evolving with the growing trends in CX and UX. In times to come the airline travel experiences are set to become more personalized, valuable, and memorable for the flyers.

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Mobile UX/UI

The Basics of Creator Economy and the Role of Digital Experience

Since time immemorial, there have been a small class of people who were creators and a larger group who ‘consumed’ such content. Books, plays, music, paintings, movies and much more were created and performed to an audience. As new platforms and technologies emerged such content took several shapes and forms.

In the pre-digital world, those who offered and controlled a platform or medium decided which content was to be promoted. A newspaper could decide to promote a news item prominently or push it away to the back pages. A studio could offer a platform for worldwide release or a niche audience. Radio stations played a major role in the popularity of a song. Higher the reach of such a medium or platform, better the impact.

In the digital era, while the content format became different, several old media rules were still at play. Online portals, social media platforms with huge reach either decided or controlled which content went viral. Sure, there was no scientific or empirical way which guaranteed which content bubbled up to the top but user-generated content came into its own. This trend owes a lot to YouTube – its ease of use and popularity. Of course, affordable high-speed data plans and mobile handsets played a role too.

The term ‘YouTuber’ became common and one heard of a select few earning millions of dollars through advertising on their YouTube channels. Ryan Kaji, a 9-year old boy earned nearly $30 million from his channel which features reviews of toys and home science experiments. Marques Brownlee or MKBHD, a popular tech & gadget reviewer has 14.9 million subscribers at the time of writing and earns through advertisements, affiliate income and more. Undoubtedly the content created by such YouTubers benefits from the platform’s popularity and reach. Google, in turn, earns from advertisers who place ads in such videos. In 2020, YouTube earned $19.77 billion – approximately 10.9 percent of Google’s total revenue, from advertising. Monetization through advertising was pretty much the only business model up until a few years ago for creators.

What is the creator economy?

The creator economy refers to 50 million+ independent content creators, curators, and community builders involved in free & paid content creation and distribution on software platforms/apps to their “followers”.

A combination of factors has resulted in a change in the ecosystem leading to what is now called the creator economy. Over the years, a small group of creators (writers, photographers) published content and acquired a small base (mostly) of readers and followers. WordPress, Flickr and such apps enabled such distribution of content.

According to Stripe, ‘the earliest creators uploaded Flash animations to DeviantArt or scanned manga illustrations to Xanga. But they didn’t have the tools to sell their content to earn a living as a creator online.’ The hallmark of such a trend was that most such content was free to consume. Popular YouTubers and bloggers who baked in Google AdSense into their sites earned money through ads, but this wasn’t an option for smaller players. The ‘creator’ mostly never got paid through a regular, predictable business model. The rise of social media and acquisition of a large number of followers, even for non-celebrities changed the equation.

The creator economy and its landscape

While there are many definitions and expressions of creator economy, a simple way of understanding it is to see it as:

“An ecosystem which enables any creator to monetize their output.”

The key difference between the digital era of just a few years ago is that the creator economy has widened the base of ‘creators’ and practically enabled everyone to be a creator and monetize their work. It is no longer only about the famous writer or established filmmakers – regular everyday folks can express their skills and passion – be it in cooking, singing, dancing or teaching. Also, the tools which enable this economy are diverse and easy to acquire and use.

The monetization model too changed beyond just advertising – with options such as subscription, sponsorship deals with brands, one-off purchases and donations. Also, the ability to reach and influence a small group of like-minded people or groups with similar interests is higher in the creator economy. Someone with deep knowledge in say, investing can create a loyal following through a podcast or video series. A writer can acquire several thousands of subscribers through newsletters. In 2017, nearly 17 million Americans earned income posting their personal creations on nine platforms.

Read: Driving Growth by Designing Experience-Based Subscription Models

“A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, video maker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 true fans to make a living”

Kevin Kelly, 1,000 True Fans

The creator economy is also referred to as the Passion Economy as it is different from the concept of being paid for gigs such as driving or food delivery. As Ji Lin says, ‘New digital platforms enable people to earn a livelihood in a way that highlights their individuality’.

Creator economy and the common content types

Below are some of the content types, platforms and tools which have gained popularity enabling the creator economy:

#1 Text: This could include short essays, long form content and newsletters: ‘The home for great writing’ is the simple premise of Substack, which started off as a tool for starting paid email newsletters. While a majority of its newsletters are free, there are more than 500,000 paying subscribers. According to The Guardian, ‘Substack takes 10% of subscription earnings and payment company Stripe takes a further 3% with writers taking the rest. Writers charge around $5 a month (£3.66) or $50 a year for access to their newsletters, although the platform’s many free newsletters also have a big following.’ The Top 10 publishers on Substack earn $7mn per year between them.

Substack creators hub

Source: Substack 

There are several stand-alone portals and newsletters which offer both free and gated content. Niche subjects such as business journalism, especially the investigative kind, find takers who are willing to pay for such content driven by the belief that it’s worth it. The USP of such business models is offering opinions, trends and analysis.

#2 Video content: Short form videos sit well with those seeking casual entertainment on the smartphone. After the success of TikTok several clones emerged in various countries.

Instagram Reels

Source: Instagram 

Instagram’s Reels and YouTube’s Shorts have made video creation easy for many. Google even set up a fund of $100mn as a means to payout to video creators. The biggest advantage of such platforms is they don’t need expensive shooting gear, just a good smartphone and an app.

#3 Audio content: Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, podcasts had a huge fan following (remember the buzz around Serial, the podcast from 2014?). The long stretch of staying at home boosted consumption of both audio and video streaming content. Aside from the pioneer Apple Podcasts, the rise of Spotify and other regional platforms augurs well for content creators. Tools such as Anchor, Podbean and more make it easy for content creators to only record but distribute their content on popular platforms.

Podbean creators economy

Source: Podbean

There are also stand-alone tools like Canva which allow for easy creation of a wide variety of content – from slides to infographics. Even niche interests such as app development, teaching and fitness instruction can now be monetized through relevant app platforms and supporting ecosystems.

Here are a few startups which cater to niche segments:

Pietra: helps influencers connect with designers and manufacturers in product creation.

Trading.TV: is a streaming platform for the financial community.

Stir: is a money management platform for creators.

The role of UX in the creator ecosystem

If all of this sounds as if one simply has to sign up on a platform and be ready to count the money, that is far from the truth. When designing a platform or tool meant to aid the creator economy the following needs to be kept in mind:

Information overload: all of us are facing information load from both traditional and new media. Many in the digital world are opting for a break if not going offline completely. In that context, the content out there has to be truly compelling, slick and convey that it adds value for the intended audience.

Subscription fatigue: consumers have a limit to what they can consume. And when it comes to subscriptions, even more so. So be it an OTT service or a paid newsletter a consumer will face a moment of trade-off before committing to a payment.

Need for educating and guidance: the entrants to the creator economy are not just the digital natives. Many who have established careers may try their hand at monetizing their expertise. The platform they choose to adopt with this intent should be able to guide them on the steps that need to be taken to complete the desired action. It takes a combination of copywriting and design as exemplified by Substack which has a Resource Center with inside tips and expert advice for writers.

The role of technology in the creator ecosystem

Technologies such as Non-Fungible Tokens powered by Blockchain are enabling the creator economy. NFTs are units of data which prove digital ownership. The use cases may include any asset such as a movie, song, photograph or collectibles. Celebrities from the entertainment industry and sports professionals have taken to NFTs in a big way. After all, a winning moment in a sports arena is something a professional would cherish and should be able to monetize. NFTs are also a boon for sports fans looking to own collectibles. NBA Top Shot is a marketplace for the fans to purchase and sell video clips of basketball games.

NBA NFT Tokens

McLaren Racing, the popular F1 racing team, has launched a platform where its fans can purchase McLaren Racing branded digital collectibles or NFTs. The platform, named the ‘McLaren Racing Collective,’ will serve as a destination for future opportunities to own a piece of exclusive McLaren Racing collectables.

Boonji Project, the debut NFT project by world-renowned artist Brendan Murphy has surpassed $15.5 million in its Dutch Auction Primary Sale, anointing the project as the largest NFT primary sale in history.

In India, cricketing legend Sunil Gavaskar and others have taken to NFTs to launch collectibles. Reports indicate that the Indian film industry too has shown interest in this trend – autographed posters, clips and more are eminently suited for use of this blockchain technology.

Crafting a digital experience in the creator economy will need to follow the basics of any process to create products which consumers love. First off, scanning the market for need gaps and consumer pain-points to identify the opportunities. Next, defining the intent of the app, the feature set and a road map. The feature set will depend on the domain – such as education, video creation or any other. Profile creation, chat systems, shooting and uploading of documents, ability to complete frictionless payments could be some common features. Intuitive design, the right technology stack are other elements of the process.

Summing it up

The creator economy is still in the development stage but has the power to make a huge societal influence consisting of a diverse set of creators. It provides equal opportunity to all its creators despite large differences in their net worth and fan following. The creators can be celebrities, content producers, and influencers. The advent of the creator economy has stretched the meaning of influencers too as it can further be classified to – key opinion leaders (KOL), brand ambassadors, affiliates, and customer advocates.

This microcosm of creators has led a resurgence in how brands are now finding new innovative ways to reach their customers. The subsequent effects are seen in these creator platforms innovating within their app/platform to attract more creators and brands.

In conclusion, the creator economy is an exciting opportunity for content creators, users and enabling platforms, powered by the engines of intuitive design and technologies.

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Design UX/UI

Designing for humanity – going beyond accessibility to create inclusive designs

In early 2005, Wayne Westerman, founder of Fingerworks, wanted to find a convenient solution to use a computer without stressing the hands. The objective was to help people like him who suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome or other such issues to comfortably work on a computer. He and his team invented a way to replace the keyboard with a touchpad. The invention was initially marketed to people with hand disabilities, but over time popularity of the solution grew among a larger group of customers. Fingerworks later sold its invention to Apple inc., which built its first gesture-controlled multitouch interface – the iPhone. The use of button-free gesture control in the iPhone kickstarted the ‘focus on user’ revolution and fundamentally changed the principles of UX design. This is what Designing for Inclusivity is all about. It requires starting from identifying and finding solutions for specific pain points which can lead to exclusion of a certain group of users, then designing experiences that can benefit a diverse group.

In the book Mismatch, Kat Holmes, (former Principal Director of Inclusive Design at Microsoft and an author) illustrates how exclusion is innate to any design if we do not identify it, and how solving for exclusion can lead to benefit of a larger group:

Imagine a playground full of only one kind of swing. A swing that requires you to be of a certain height, with two arms and two legs. The only people who will come to play here are people who match this design, because this design welcomes them and no one else. And yet there are many unexplored, different ways you can design an experience of swinging. You can adjust the shape and size of the seat. You can keep a person stationary and swing the environment around them. You can support the body without holding onto the ropes. Participation doesn’t require a particular design. But a particular design can prohibit participation.

While designing a product or a digital experience it is easy to fall into the trap of generalizing when and how it will be used. But, when those stereotypes are broken it paves the way for inclusive designs and innovations that can benefit a large and diverse group of users.

In this article, let’s deep dive into why every experience must be approached through a lens of inclusivity and the best practices that we can embrace for creating inclusive designs.

Understanding The Difference Between Universal Design, Accessibility and Inclusivity

Universal Design and Inclusivity and Accessibility – these terms are often used interchangeably. While all of them converge together to solve the common objective of creating designs that have minimal exclusion, they differ from each other. Before we talk about inclusivity, it is important to understand the difference between Universal Design, Accessibility, and Inclusive Design.

Universal Design – stems from the objective of making a product, environment, or interface usable by as many people as possible without the need for any adaptation. Motion-operated automatic doors are an example of Universal Design. Universal Design has a one-size-fits-all approach. 

Accessible Design – Accessibility in design focuses on users with disabilities and is a subset of Inclusive designs. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1, was initiated to improve accessibility guidance for three major groups: users with cognitive or learning disabilities, users with low vision, and users with disabilities on mobile devices. Accessibility is an outcome of inclusive design practices.

In our earlier article, we talked about Accessibility in design and the best practices around it.

Why Design for Inclusivity

Inclusive design involves designing for a specific individual or use cases that are not generic and then extending it to a diverse group. For example – the invention of the email was driven by the need of Vinton Gray Cerf, who is hard of hearing to communicate with his wife who is deaf. The email was a way for them to stay connected when they weren’t in one room. 

Another such example is the invention of captions. On August 5, 1972, “French chef” Julia Child, in a program televised from Boston’s WGBH studios, became a historic broadcast because it was the first time that deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans could enjoy the audio portion of a national television program through the use of captions. Since then, including captions and subtitles in videos has become a best practice for creating videos, which also benefits people beyond the ones who have difficulty in hearing or are in an environment that does not allow a clear hearing.

Designing for Inclusivity can lead to such remarkable inventions. 

However, in most cases, inclusivity is an afterthought in the design process. But, having it ingrained into the product design and development process can drive innovation and business. Here are a few examples:

PillPack founder T. J. Parker wanted to ease out the challenge of opening child-proof caps by people with limited dexterity in their hands. They also wanted to minimize the risk of patients mistaking their prescriptions, especially the ones on multiple medications. They partnered with IDEO to design a more accessible pill bottle and reimagined the prescription delivery service. When patients order their prescriptions through PillPack the medication arrives in presorted packages, where patients could simply remove one small pouch that contains the right medication for the right time of day. This innovative solution, born out of the need of a specific group of users proved to be a boon for 30 million people who needed to take more than five prescription medications in one day.


The Americal Live a weekly public show broadcast created full transcripts for their online archive of hundreds of episodes. The objective was to make content accessible to people with hearing disabilities. This move helped them in reaching out to more audiences than ever. Not only did their website traffic rise drastically, but a substantial percentage of the unique visitors came due to the transcripts. 

Role of Empathy in Creating Inclusive Designs

At Robosoft, we believe in the principles of Design Thinking to create human-centric digital experiences. Empathy is the first step of the Design Thinking process that helps to understand the pain points of the end-user. At the core, the primary goal of creating inclusive designs is lowering the barriers that can exclude users from using digital products and interfaces effectively. A lot of times these barriers occur when product teams think about a design only from their experiences and world view, which results in retro-fitting inclusion and accessibility to the design. 

A lot of product teams and designers work with a Bell-Curve approach. A bell curve approach means designing experiences for the majority of the people, or the ones who lie in the middle of the bell curve, automatically leading to the exclusion of people who fall on the edges of the curve (the edge cases).

This exclusion of the ‘edge cases’ could mean the exclusion of a user need that can lead to an important feature benefiting a diverse group ( including the ‘average people’ who lie in the middle spectrum of the bell curve). 

Designing for inclusivity requires including and learning from people with a range of perspectives. This is where Empathy plays a key role.

Learn how people adapt to the world around them. Bring that into your design practiceTim Allen, VP, Design at Airbnb

Empathy plays a critical role while creating a user persona. It is a tool that helps product teams look beyond their experiences and understand where the user is coming from. It is critical to understand the pain point of the users who are at the left of the persona spectrum – which means they face the maximum mismatch with a product or interface. And then extending the design for a diverse set of users – who may face the same challenges depending on their situations.

User Persona Spectrum – from the Book Mismatch

Best Practices of Designing for Inclusivity

It is critical to think about products or experiences from the mindset of inclusivity, right through the entire product development process –  from strategy and design to development and testing. Let’s take a look at the best practices for designing for inclusivity from these aspects.

1. Identify the Points of Exclusion

Before starting the process of inclusive design, the product teams must seek out the points of exclusion. This means what are the aspects that lead to exclusion of a user and then solving for them. 

Designing for inclusion starts with recognizing exclusion. – Kat Holmes

This can include the following:

  • Recognizing personal biases.
  • Involving a wide and diverse set of users throughout the designing process. Especially the ones who are most likely to be excluded.
  • Identifying exclusion that can occur on a situational basis – this can lead to experiences that can be extended to users who can face challenges in experiencing a product due to their situational environment. This means solutions designed for users who are deaf or HOH (Hard of Hearing) can also benefit those who are navigating through a loud airport.

The Americans with Disabilities Act has legal provisions that address the difficulty of hearing in airports, they cite videotext displays as the most important auxiliary hearing aids that airports must provide. Airport televisions are also required to display captioning at all times.  A service that can help all passengers while navigating a noisy and crowded airport.


2. Understanding User Diversity

The beauty of inclusive designs is that it puts people at the center of every experience. It requires learning from people with a range of perspectives. User research is an important step towards understanding diverse perspectives and creating experiences that are usable for a wider group of people. These activity cards from Microsoft can help in testing concepts through an inclusive lens. These include understanding a user from various aspects like:

  • Learning from users who face exclusion permanently – for instance, people with vision impairments face difficulties in accessing all kinds of digital devices. A feature like high contrast screen settings designed for such users benefits a wider range of users depending on the context like – interacting with the device in bright sunlight.
  • Mismatches in the human-to-technology interaction – most digital interfaces are designed to be used either via a mouse, keyboard, or touch screens. How do people who have constraints of using a hand due to a disability or contextual challenges (like luggage in one or both hands) use a device? This is where a design integrated with voice and speech recognition technology comes into the picture.

At Robosoft, we partnered with AAA to design Google Assistant and Alexa Skills that can help drivers get roadside assistance while driving.

  • Mapping human abilities on a spectrum to design solutions that benefit everyone

Persona Spectrum – Microsoft Inclusive Design Toolkit

  • Draw parallels between the role of human behavior and technology’s behavior – this means finding the human equivalent of the tech solution that is being designed. For instance, a voice assistant’s role in giving information to users can be in some ways equated to a teacher’s role of imparting knowledge to students. Designers should interview people who perform such roles that can be compared to technology’s role in the user’s life. Take note of what makes them good at their work and brainstorm ways to incorporate those insights into the design of your solution’s behavior.

At Robosoft, we partnered with Penske Media Corporation to create an ADA compliant app for WWD (Women’s Wear Daily) one of their leading industry trade journals for fashion. We did a detailed analysis of the audience segments and created detailed user stories. The solution included features like – text alternative for all rich media content, page titles that describe topic or purpose, an optimized order of content rather than a predetermined sequential order, etc.

3. Design Essentials for Inclusivity

When it comes to design principles to follow while designing for inclusivity, a lot of factors are similar to guidelines one would follow for accessibility. We have discussed the key points including – Fonts, Text and Typography, Color, Forms, Content, and more in detail in our article covering best practices of designing for accessibility. In the subsequent section, we will talk about design best practices beyond the above-mentioned factors.

Start with micro-interactions

With Agile development product development teams can pick small interactions, identify barriers around them and then design and develop features in an incremental pattern. This can help in creating inclusive designs step-by-step, testing them, iterating them without getting overwhelmed by the entire process. Micro-interactions though small can have a huge impact on the usability of an interface. Micro-interactions can provide instant and relevant feedback about a completed action to a user and in most cases, micro-interactions only need a little more effort to be inclusive to all users.


Microinteractions also play an important role in UX writing known as microcopy. It is a small, informative, or instructional text on forms, pop-ups, buttons, search prompts tips, etc.


Microcopy helps in assisting users in small ways as they are navigating through an app or website. It is also an opportunity to engage with users with a quirky and interesting copy.


Navigation and interaction – following Gestalt Principles

When designing for inclusivity it is important to plan a clear and easy-to-use navigation structure. Gestalt principles (principles of grouping) help to organize related items and support a clear visual hierarchy and navigation structure. Here are few points to consider while creating a navigation structure:

  • Designing not just for every type of user and screen size, but also for the various ways people hold their device

  • Easy access to the bottom navigation, which holds key menu items and features that are frequently used to be placed in the mid to two-thirds area of the screen

Design for the context the user is actually in

Digital interfaces are used in multiple situations. How the interface appears and functions should reflect and fit into that context. An example of this principle is touch screen interfaces in cars. It can be difficult and time-consuming if the touch target is small and hard to read. So in any in-motion scenario, it is important to maximize the size of the text and touch elements and simplify the presentation of crucial information, like the next route instruction. 




In today’s world users can interact with a digital solution on multiple devices – whichever is most convenient for them at that point in time. Therefore It is important to create multiexperiences – by mapping every touchpoint across the user journey.

Some considerations while building multiexperiences that are inclusive are:

  • Create fully responsive designs – Rather than “adapting” a desktop design for a mobile device, or vice-versa, designers should consider all device form factors and ensure that extreme cases are taken into account as well.
  •  Ensure the interface responds well when Zoomed. This means – the layout should remain usable and not have any broken or overlapping elements when zoomed whether the user is seeing it on a desktop browser or on a mobile device.
  • While designing an app, make sure it responds to the user’s device settings for text size and includes native zoom and sizing options if appropriate.
  • Two concepts that can help rich web applications support more browsers and have a wider reach are:
    • Graceful degradation is the practice of building an application for modern browsers while ensuring it remains functional in older browsers.
    • Progressive enhancement is the practice of building an application for a base level of user experience but adding functional enhancements when a browser supports it.

Images and videos

Images and videos can make an interface visually interactive and engaging. However, if not done right they can be the biggest barriers to creating an inclusive interaction. Here are some points to consider while using images and videos: 

  • Minimize image file sizes -All photographic images should be below 1MB, for faster loading.
  • Use JPGs first – it allows for the highest level of compression.
  • Include transcripts and captions in audio and video content
  • Consider cultural context while adding images and videos – which means using diverse stock images taking into account the existence of different identities, skin tones, body shapes, and abilities.

Ethnicity filters return that can help to select diverse and inclusive images and videos on

  • While including video, make sure to use modern HTML5 video standards
  • Don’t Autoplay media – Autoplaying video and audio are generally annoying, and where users are working across multiple apps or tabs, it can be hard to identify the source of the media to hit pause. 

Development and markup

A design is only as good as the engineering behind it. Here are some key points to consider while implementing a design.

  • Don’t use tables for layout – there are two kinds of tables – Data Tables (to represent data) and Layout Tables (commonly used for page layout). Screen Readers treat even the layout tables as data tables and read out their content row-by-row, which can be quite confusing to understand.
  • Minimize bandwidth requirements wherever possible, and optimize load time
  • Accommodate focus states and tab and arrow key functionality
  • Validate the markup for accessibility – Markup provides instructions to the software used for viewing a webpage (web browser) on how the page should look and work. W3 has a free markup validation tool that will help to identify any technical barriers to inclusion, like missing “alt” text. 

Applying Inclusive Design Principles to Emerging Technologies

Emerging technologies like Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and AI can play an important role in creating inclusive digital experiences. Here’s how:

AR/VR can lead the way towards inclusive designs. As rightly mentioned in this Fast Company article:

VR at its best can do more than immerse: it lets people appreciate new perspectives.

Researchers at Stanford are running “virtual shoes” experiments in which people “viscerally embody avatars” that encounter various forms of prejudice, based on age, race, economic status, and disabilities. The Stanford team is now partnering with neuroscientists to demonstrate how these experiences — can physically change the brain to reduce bias. UNICEF more than doubled the funding it received after screening its documentary ‘Clouds over Sidra’ on a 12-year-old refugee, in a 360-degree video.

Immersive technologies will also play a critical role in creating inclusive workspaces. The US Department of Labor (DOL) is currently funding Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology, which is focused on laying the groundwork for an accessible future of work led by emerging technologies.

Artificial Intelligence can help create intelligent apps that see, hear, speak, understand, and better interpret people’s needs. Seeing AI is a Microsoft research project that brings together the power of the cloud and AI to deliver an intelligent app. It is an app that narrates the world around you. Designed for the blind and low vision community.


Wrapping Up

We are all temporarily abled – Cindy Li.

Digital interfaces have permeated most aspects of a users’ life. Depending on the user environment, context or situation a digital experience can be inaccessible or accessible. Designing for inclusion cannot be an afterthought, the design process will have to start with inclusivity. Kat Holmes summarises three critical steps to build inclusive design practices:

  • Use the cycle of exclusion to assess where you are today and where to start. Answering the 5 key questions about the experience can be a starting point of identifying exclusion.

The cycle of exclusion – from the book Mismatch

  • Apply the principles of inclusive design to any element of the cycle of exclusion.

Principles of inclusive design – from the book Mismatch

  • Integrate inclusive design methods within your team to build a purposeful culture where people can do their best work.

It has become critical for digital experiences to be extended to as many people as possible. More so when digital solutions have become critical to complete day-to-day tasks. Enterprises will have to ingrain a mindset shift that leads to inclusion as a starting point for any design experience. The first step towards this is aligning the organizational goals towards inclusivity. Further, building a team of designers and developers who understand and appreciate the value of learning from a diverse group of users. Once these building blocks are in place, defining the tools and methodologies that can help in creating Inclusive Designs is critical to standardize the practice across organizations and projects.  One small change toward inclusion can inspire innovation, benefit a wide range of users in a positive way and drive business impact.

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Customer Experience Design Thinking UX/UI

Prototyping for Designers

Good design’s not about what medium you’re working in. It’s about thinking hard about what you want to do and what you have to work with before you start.  – Susan Kare

Prototype is the stage where you build a representative model of your solution to validate its viability and experience. It can also help identify what is working and what the weak links are. In this article, we will outline some basics of prototyping, how to create and use them.

What is Prototyping?

Prototyping manages the process of creating solutions for the end-user without even having to look at the final product. With Low, Medium & High fidelity prototypes, one can easily picture an entire flow of how the user journey will look like. All this helps in conveying the look and feel of the final product.

What is Prototyping

How does it help?

Prototyping is one of the most important steps in the design process. It saves time, effort and cost on a project to validate a hypothesis and ascertain that the product design is in the right direction.

Before a final output is ready and the project is conceptualized. Prototyping helps designers bridge the gap between a conceptual and an actual product.

For designers

For designers, the mode of prototyping they choose varies from project to project. For instance, if there is a quick approval needed even a hand sketch (Low fidelity prototype) will do the job. But if the journeys and flows are extensive a high-level prototype is a must. It helps clear doubts with respect to user journeys, flows and IA (Information Architecture). A designer must have total control over the tools they use, for an excellent output.

For developers

A detailed prototype can help developers visualize a flow from start to end and quickly understand the roadblocks or the enablers that can help smoothen the app or web development. Developers can also recognize the challenges well in advance with a detailed prototype. Additionally, there are many other aspects, such as API availability, asset requirements, and basic structure of the page that a detailed prototype can help developers to be prepared with.

When to use Prototypes?

The prototyping phase is the testing ground – this is where the transition happens from being dogmatic to being experimental.

In its basic form, a prototype is an expression of design intent. Prototyping allows designers to present their designs and see them in action. In the context of digital products, a prototype is a simulation of the final interaction between the user and the interface. Depending on what a product team needs a prototype to do, it can simulate an entire app or just a single interaction.

When to use Prototypes?

The fidelity of a prototype refers to how it conveys the look-and-feel of the final product (i.e. visuals, content and interactivity)

An important aspect that should be mentioned here is that anybody can prototype. It is not something that needs to be restricted to a designer only.

Paper mockup

For creating a prototype, we can start with something as basic as a paper mockup. It is inexpensive, fast, and collaborative. A paper prototype can be first ideated on a whiteboard with all stakeholders and then sketched out on paper – it’s that simple.

This method does have its drawbacks though, like limited interactivity and uncertainty during testing, but it suffices for a preliminary test.

Monotone mockup

You then have the monotone mockup which can be static or interactive. An interactive mockup can also include the key transitions.

A designer can be the best judge for deciding the type of prototype that can be created basis what will appeal to the users and project stakeholders. Of course, time is of essence here.

High-fidelity prototypes

The high-fidelity prototypes on the other hand embody the brand, have a corresponding look and feel, clear call to actions, and continuity. These obviously have their own perks, of easy buy-in from and the decision makers, testability of specific functionalities, and richer feedback from users. However, they come with a high-cost implication and time factor.

Process from Wireframes to Clickable Prototypes

Wireframes are created in the early stage of the process and made before the visual design phase. Here the designers pay more attention to usability and functionality rather than aesthetics.

Process from Wireframes to Clickable Prototypes

Clickable Prototypes – Low & High Fidelity

A clickable low fidelity prototype is simple to create and has no interactions to showcase the user journey. High fidelity prototypes are easier to understand, with animations, micro-interactions, gestures, fully loaded content, almost equivalent to a final product.

Clickable Prototypes - Low & High Fidelity

Image source

There are several tools that will help build these high fidelity prototypes with features that help you animate your project the way you want. A few software products used by designers are detailed further.

Top 5 Prototyping Tools


Sketch is one of the most popular and efficient prototyping tool for designing Web Interfaces and Mobile Apps. Create minimal and clutter-free designs.

Platform: Mac OS X

Adobe XD

Adobe XD is a perfect tool for UD designers. Easy switching between design and prototype. Also has Voice-enabled feature to create prototypes with voice.

Platforms: Android, iOS, Mac OS X and Windows


Invision can be used via sketch or other design tools using plugin CRAFT. Designers can quickly create mood boards, Design Systems, and Style Guides. Adapts design from WEB Responsive to Mobile.

Platforms: Mac OS X, Windows and Web Browser


Marvel is both Web-based and Mobile app prototyping tool. Through the app, you can convert hand sketches into prototypes. It supports PSD, Sketch files to further work on within Marvel.

Platforms: Mac OS X, Windows and Web Browser


Figma is the first interface tool to have a collaboration feature. It is an entirely Web browser based tool. Create and present the design in the same tool.

Platforms: Mac OS X and web Browser


Gone are those days when wireframes were created on paper, today prototyping is a must before embarking on the journey of design and development of digital products. Lovely animations and interactions add to the wow factor and help bring a faster buy-in from stakeholders on the concept.

Designers can pick the tool that suits them, as there is no perfect prototyping tool that can be called the “best” from the list. Every tool has its own pros and cons and every day there are new updates to existing and new tools that are launched and marketed differently.

The choice of a prototyping tool depends entirely upon the nature of the project. It is finally about picking the right tool for the right requirement based on the project.

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Customer Experience Enterprise Applications UX/UI

The role of Information Architecture in creating richer user experiences

In a world where everything that a user needs is just ‘an app away,’ offering delightful User Experiences can be the differentiator for businesses amongst the myriad of options, that consumers might have. The fact that 88% of people are less inclined to return to a site after a bad UX makes it a key factor for businesses to retain customers. A good UX is not just critical for customer engagement and retention but it also drives business value, according to a study by Forrester, every $1 that’s being invested in UX returns $100.

The saying ‘well begun is half done’ is aptly well-suited in this context of creating unique, intuitive, and engaging user experiences that simplify the user’s journey across the platform, and building Information Architecture (IA) is the first step towards achieving this goal.

An IA is a blueprint that guides your team while designing the UX for any digital platform. It is in fact one of the most valuable and necessary aspects while embarking on the journey of creating digital solutions. It is a collaborative task often shared between the design, development and engineering teams.

In this article, we will learn about information architecture and how it functions as a backbone while crafting user experiences for your products.

What is an information architecture (IA)?

Information architecture can be defined as a method of organizing, structuring, and labeling the content of a website, web or mobile applications.

The ultimate goal of an IA is to establish an easy and logical decision-making process for the end users of designed product.

Elements of IA

Date source – 3 Elements of IA

The art and science of creating Information Architecture

Information architecture has roots in both library science and cognitive psychology.  Let us take a moment to understand these terms individually.

Library science

Libraries have always been associated with the practice of information science. Library science is the study of how to categorize and catalog information resources. The two defining traits of library science are:

  1. Categorizing – defining things by similarity
  1. Cataloging – creating metadata and assigning it to content in order to find it again in the future

Cognitive psychology

Cognitive psychology is the study of how our minds work —  what mental activities take place in our brain and what different factors influence our attention. Majority of the UI/UX design rules we have today have roots in cognitive psychology. Information Architecture uses some elements of cognitive psychology to define the way information should be structured.

Here are a few key elements of cognitive psychology that are most valuable for IA

key elements of cognitive psychology

Data source – Elements of cognitve psychology

Gestalt principles: Gestalt principles explore users’ visual perception of elements in relation to each other. They show how people tend to unify visual elements into groups according to their similarity, continuity, or closure. It focuses on good figure, proximity, similarity, continuation, closure & symmetry.

Mental models: It is the users’ perception about certain things based on their past experiences. For e.g. it could be expecting the user to close a particular website/app window on clicking the button represented by a cross in the box.

Cognitive load: Cognitive load is the amount of information that a person can process at any given moment.

Recognition patterns: People visiting a website or using a mobile app expect to see certain features associated with a specific product. Designers apply various recognition patterns to make the interaction familiar.

Visual Hierarchy: Visual hierarchy is directly related to content readability. One of the essential points to consider for architects is scanning patterns — before reading a page, people scan it to get a sense of interest. The most common scanning patterns are F and Z patterns.

The most common scanning patterns are F and Z patterns

We derive most important components of the information architecture from the understanding of the library science and the cognitive psychology. Let us understand what these components are and how do they help in shaping up the entire information architecture.

Components of information architecture

Components of information architecture

Components of IA

Information architecture is comprised of 4 components –organization system, labeling system, navigation system and search system

Organization systems Categorization of information, e.g., by subject or chronology.

Labeling systems Representation of information, e.g., scientific terminology (“Acer”) or lay terminology (“maple”).

Navigation systems How users browse or move through information, e.g., clicking through a hierarchy.

Search systems How userssearch for information, e.g., executing a search query against an index.

Types of Navigations in Information architecture

Hierarchical Navigation – Making one choice per screen until the user reaches the destination

Hierarchical Navigation

Flat Navigation – Switching between multiple content categories

Flat Navigation

Content Driven Navigation – Moving freely through the content or the content itself defines the navigation

Content Driven Navigation

Now that we have the fair understanding of the Information Architecture, let us look at how to build one.

How to build an Information Architecture

The structure of an IA is based on the requirements of the project and the iterative nature of the design. It may vary from project to project. IA forms a firm base and supports the various design changes that may be done throughout the progress of the project.

Before defining the information architecture, the first step is to develop a supportive document. Based on the acquired business knowledge and the understanding of the users’ pain points. With these points in mind, adocument consisting of information like company goals, user goals, user personas and competitor analysis, etc. is created.

The process of designing an Information Architecture:

To define the information architecture we will follow a 5 step process.

1. Group the content

In this phase, we sort the content and group it under different umbrellas and define the content set.

In case of a redesign project, revisiting the entire structure and determining which information sets to keep and which ones to get rid of in addition to deciding where new content is required is the first step.

Card sorting is one of the most effective & widely used UX tool for content grouping

Group the content

Data source

2. Create a site map

High Fidelity App Map for an Investment App

High Fidelity App Map for an Investment App

In this phase, the user goals and the purpose of the digital platform is defined. Post which the user journeys with different sets of tasks are created.

The user journeys helps in understanding the movement of the users on the digital platform and the interlinks between the pages.

3. Outline the navigation structure

The navigation structure is created based on the business understanding. Any of the navigation types mentioned earlier in the article can be used as a foundation and the entire structure can be built on it.

Detailed Navigation structure of an e-commerce website

Detailed Navigation structure of an e-commerce website

4. Refine content labels

In this stage, the content is labeled according to its purpose. These labels are linked to create the structured categorisation, consisting of sections, sub-sections, links, toggles etc.

Precise and easy to understand content Labels for the catalog level -2 Section of e-commerce app

5. Create wireframes and conduct usability test (Writing Scenarios)

Wireframes created for an app to test the journey for the proposed IA

Wireframes created for an app to test the journey for the proposed IA

It is good practice to test out the information architecture early-on in the project and make changes as it progresses. Hence in this stage, user scenarios are written. Post which the wireframes are tested with these scenarios.

This process is critical to help understand user pain points and design failures. We can then iterate the design as required.

6. Defining areas for analytics integration. (Plugging in the analytics)

Plugging in the analytics

Example of an app map created for insurance company showing the analytics plugins

Analytics plays an important role in creating user journeys. This phase will help in identifying the focus areas of the users, the functionalities they will use most, and their pain points. This becomes a precursor for plugging in analytics to the digital platform.

Also this data comes in handy for future iterations as it can be used as a guide and changes can be made to the design in order to solve the problems and improve the user  experience. Hence, once the architecture is created, the decision can be made based on the goals of analysis and select tools as per requirements

In conclusion, Information Architecture is an integral part of an experience design process. A well structured IA is a powerful tool that ascertains methodical and easy navigation through a digital platform and ensures a seamless flow for content discovery. The nature, levels, and detailing of the architecture can vary according to the project. However, creating an  IA is a must for every experience designer and it is a critical step before embarking on the design journey.

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The coming glut of online delivery apps: 5 take-aways to deliver the competitive edge in UX

The global COVID-10 pandemic disrupted our lives in a manner we never imagined or prepared for. As is obvious, visits to restaurants, shopping malls, multiplex theatres all come down drastically. According to The National Restaurant Association, more than 110,000 restaurants in the U.S. closed for business in 2020. On the other hand, the need for social distancing, safety concerns, and lockdowns resulted in a steep growth for delivery services like DoorDash and Uber Eats which grew by more than double in 2020

Even outside of food delivery, ‘online delivery ‘of almost everything has become a part of the new normal. In April this year, Amazon reported an increase of 220 percent in its profit compared to the same period last year.


Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, e-commerce and food ordering through mobile apps were common in many countries. However, the in-store purchase was preferred in some categories. According to Nielsen, only 4% of grocery sales in the United States came through online channels last year. In March 2020, Instacart, Walmart Grocery, and Shipt have seen surges of 218%, 160%, and 124% respectively in the number of downloads compared to the previous month. The urge to change habits is also reflected in new demographics (e.g. those above 60) opting for online shopping.

Many believe that it is not a temporary phenomenon but a permanent change in behavior impacting grocery, pharmacy, food, and other industries. Beyond just a web or app design, business models are likely to be affected. Setting up of ‘dark stores’ – outlets that look like supermarkets but closed for customers and geared to be hubs for online delivery are a reality. Mini automated fulfillment centers at the back of large stores, with some even using robots, are getting traction. Stand-alone restaurants and supermarkets will face a tough situation compared to the consolidation possibilities of a brand of chains – e.g. Pizza Hut, KFC, Burger King, etc.

At Robosoft, we are seeing a surge in inquiries for digital solutions for online delivery in the US and other geographies. Several enterprises are likely to create native apps and websites to cater to this demand leading to a surfeit of such experiences. Enterprises are already battling issues such as app fatigue, poor user retention, and lack of brand loyalty. How can they maintain a competitive edge? Here are a few pointers:

Address the concerns on safety and hygiene upfront

The first step towards creating a compelling digital experience is to understand the consumer pain points through empathy and craft a solution that intuitively solves that problem. In these times of anxiety, understanding customer needs, their mindset, motivations, and barriers are even more critical. Design Thinking workshops, even held remotely, can help enterprises gain valuable insights into the consumer mindset. Consumers need the reassurance of safety precautions undertaken by the brand – in any form of delivery service. A norm of the remote-working era – over-communicate is worth following as contactless delivery, safety precautions taken by the staff need to be visually highlighted.

Clear, bold, reassuring message from Pizza Hut on their website.

Clear, bold, reassuring message from Pizza Hut on their website.

Details of safety precautions followed by Pizza Hut mentioned on their mobile app for customer reassurance.

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Like most delivery apps, Postmates offers contact-free delivery choices. But they also encourage customers to report if their delivery person appears unwell. The company has also set up a Fleet Relief Fund to help employees with COVID-19 medical expenses.

The Kroger app added a designated FAQ section for COVID-19, which is explicit for users to look for COVID-19-relevant answers.  Walmart puts COVID-19 updates at the top of their shopping page. Users can tap and learn what Walmart is doing to provide a safe shopping environment. 

Swiggy a leading delivery app from India, recently added a ‘Care Corner’ feature in their app. It is a dedicated section within the app around COVID-19 offering users options for sending home-cooked food, sending care packages, getting medicines and groceries picked up.


The Care Corner section on Swiggy’s app

Be honest about the constraints of the new normal

During the early days of lockdown, supermarkets were overrun and shelves emptied by people stocking up supplies. E-commerce apps could not sell several non-essential products and even the essentials were delayed in terms of delivery. While consumers may be irked by such developments and even express their disappointment, deep down they’d understand that these are extraordinary circumstances and cut some slack for their favorite brands. However, consumers would rather prefer an attitude of ‘under-promise and over-deliver’ in these times and also likely to be more forgiving of snafus. So information about delayed turnaround times, unavailability of stocks, price surges if any, and replacement options must be conveyed upfront and not as unpleasant surprises at the end of a purchase process.

Details of pickup locations, product availability, and order status on the Instacart mobile app.

Put customers in control with a choice of delivery and technology

Now more than ever, customers would appreciate the simplification of processes. They already have enough to deal with at home. So any simplified process – from ordering through voice-enabled speakers, messenger platforms or a smartwatch, virtual trial of a dress (for a fashion e-commerce brand), re-order of previously ordered medicines, offering a subscription service can go a long way in feeling that’s one less weight off their shoulders. Delivering products at the chosen time by the consumer, option of curbside pickup are also examples of putting the consumer in control.

Domino’s makes it easy for its customers to order from any device

Domino’s makes it easy for its customers to order from any device

Online Delivery

Shoppers can order essentials and non-essentials items in the same purchase on the Walmart app for curbside pickup or delivery.

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Aid product discovery: use a recommendation engine to anticipate needs

The nature of the anxiety and concern for taking precautions can make consumers unsure of all that they need to stay safe. For example, grocery shopping apps can aid consumers by highlighting immunity-boosting products. Food delivery apps can add product badges which could highlight nutritional information or the number of orders in the past hour – giving some sort of assurance of making a safe choice. The role of a Recommender System is at the core in recommending items and driving customer conversion by auto-suggesting the right product to customers based on needs and behavioral data. Amazon is known for putting it to great use – 35% of’s revenue is generated by its recommendation engine.

Such systems get better over time which subliminally cues to the user that this brand understands me and my tastes. It helps in building loyalty and improving the average ticket size of orders.

Beyond transactions, offer relevant content for engagement or information

Aside from assurances of safety, there is plenty of scope to create engagement through relevant content. Food delivery apps such as Zomato have already integrated recipe videos which consumers could find valuable when the propensity to try new recipes at home is high. The insurance brand Discovery from South Africa is a great example of providing value-added content beyond merely selling a product.

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Instacart provides three options to the users if an item is unavailable:

  1. Shoppers (assigned delivery partners) can choose the best replacement for the unavailable item
  2. Users can designate a substitute item.
  3. Leave out the item when unavailable.

Instacart’s app provides three options to the users if an item is unavailable.

In the coming months and years as more and more brands adopt digital solutions and online delivery models, meaningful product-level differentiation will be difficult to achieve. The competitive edge would really lie in the positive sentiments the digital experience evokes in a consumer, thus subliminally generating brand affinity. It is an appeal to the emotional brain which drives brand purchase decisions than the rational brain. The choice of the right digital partner in the experience economy is also a key factor in providing a competitive edge to enterprises.

In one of our webinars, Mart to cart: role of digital experiences in online delivery, we discussed the evolving consumer behavior and key factors that can help delivery services in crafting great digital experiences. You can watch a recording of the session here.

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Mobile Opinion UX/UI

The role of User Experience, Data Science and a Recommender System in improving Customer Lifetime Value

Metrics are an integral part of business success. As the management guru Peter Drucker said, ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure’. Across B2C and B2B, enterprises and functions within them, chase their own metrics. They may see varying value in Net Promoter Score, Customer Acquisition Cost, CSAT (Customer Satisfaction), and various user engagement metrics such as MAU (Monthly Active Users) and Retention Curve. However, they are all likely to agree that Customer Lifetime Value is a meaningful and relevant KPI to indicate the long-term health of a business.

Customer lifetime value, or CLV, is a predictive performance indicator that allows you to quantify the total value of a customer if they were to form a long-term relationship with your company or brand. In simple terms, it is ‘revenue earned from a customer (annual revenue multiplied by the average customer lifespan) minus the initial cost of acquiring them’. So the incentive for enterprises is to invest in long term relationships with customers. In establishing such relationships, the quality of digital experiences is critical more than ever before in today’s world.

The 5 levers of digital innovation

Increasingly, customers tend to base their perceptions of credibility, trust, and overall value of a brand through its digital experiences. In financial services, self-service dashboards, humanized banking, investment advisory, frictionless lending are common features which are digitally enabled. Personalized infotainment with natural language support and curated recommendations are seen in entertainment services. Similarly, across domains, enterprises can acquire segmented customers and offer a wide range of services by leveraging 5 levers of digital innovation:

Lifestyle Enrichment: With a combination of data and digital experiences, enterprises are in a position to know more about consumer needs and fulfill them at every stage in life. For example, in financial services brands can offer seamless client onboarding, personalized recommendations based on goals, advisory via a panel of experts, aggregate spend analysis, and provide tips on savings.

Recommendations to improve lifestyle such as goal planning, tracking performance of investments, providing a consolidated view of assets and liabilities, need-based promotional marketing, just-in-time recommendation, and so on are already in vogue.

Similarly, enterprises in other domains such as media & entertainment and e-commerce can use analytics and digital design to enrich their customers’ lives. The customer and relevant data should move across channels (app, web, wearables, bots, social, kiosk, branch, call center, advisor, distributor) seamlessly and securely. Such services will have to be made available on the most-preferred channel or location. While it can be challenging enterprises must remember that modern applications demonstrate many advanced characteristics that are driven by the user journey and help in addressing user needs.

Customer Experience: Many would know Design Thinking in abstract terms but very few have applied it in practice tied to customer’s “digital body language”. Many of the apps in the market may be superficially attractive – colorful in design, but weak on purpose, interaction style, or blending cutting-edge innovations. Firstly, there must be an emotional connect with users. Next curiosity must be evoked to learn more about the services and the ease of discovery or use. Once the app crosses the chasm, customer delight and adoption happen. Design Thinking principles can help businesses understand consumers better, empathize with them, and uncover valuable insights about their stated and latent needs & pain points. But beyond just principles, Design Thinking is action – helping enterprises understand their user’s pain points, conducting faster experiments, and finally building a product that drives business results.

The process of ‘Design Thinking to Design Doing

Designers and data scientists must converge to deliver a multi-modal, intelligent, and self-learning application to millennial customers. Technologies such as facial recognition, voice, video calling can be used to address customer pain points and enhance the overall experience.

Enterprise Grade Platform: Companies shall decouple Digital from Core via Open API and monetize services usage via open-source technologies. Each business application must be architected as a collection of cloud-ready enterprise-level micro-services inter-connected to digital use-cases that can be discovered, reused, and deployed across the company. Examples include customer onboarding, multi-factor authentication, personalized UI templates, work-flow engine, product catalogue, information overlay via AR, campaign manager, video & chat conversation, virtual assistant, recommender engine, predictive analyzer and blockchain storage.

Automation: Many companies have scratched the surface on operational processes and customer interaction automation. It has been automation of mundane back-end jobs and less of a hybrid approach of humans and robot’s judgment working in tandem. Successful digital transformation must focus on enterprise productivity, contextual interactions, and real-time recommendations.

Robotic Process Automation unifies enterprise-level data to bring context to customers, integrates regulatory compliance into standard operating procedures with exception reporting, delivers always-on services, and enrich human interactions. Convergence of RPA and AI will drive revenue and profitability and cross-sell to customer’s needs. Companies must bring automation to software deployment and rollout to markets via agile practices. Automation of marketing aided by AI, geo-location intelligence, and big-data user-item profiling is a necessity.

Insights: Insights about what motivates customers and their actions can be drawn from every conversation, transaction, relationship, grievance, and social sharing.

Analytics reside at the edge-node, and can provide insights on cross-sell, product holding, customer profitability and lifetime value, attrition and loyalty, customer sentiment, channel search & usage, transactions, service requests, leads, campaigns, churn, product profitability, risk, advisory quality and more.

The real value of dashboards lies in anticipating early and accurately what your customers want and acting on it.

Convergence of UX, platform and data science in a connected enterprise

Recommender system: driving retention and engagement

The role of a Recommender System is at the core in recommending items and driving customer conversion by auto-suggesting the right product to customers based on needs and behavioral data. A robust Recommender System will discover information for customers and “what to recommend” depends on the context i.e. movies, news, shopping, loans, insurance, funds, stocks, grocery, food, etc.

A Recommender System helps the company to increase revenues by providing the most likely items that a customer can purchase or increasing the engagement by showcasing the relevant product or content. It will encompass a context-based virtual assistant capable of mining data, text, audio, video, facial, and generate automatic responses from past experience and context by applying Deep Learning principles.

There are various models and methods to build an intelligent Recommender System:

Collaborative filtering systems are based on large sets of customers who bought similar products and uses ratings or performance to make a suitable recommendation. It works usually on customer-item interactions e.g. item bought, time spent. In case of the sparseness of ratings, auxiliary information such as item-content can be used via collaborative topic regression machine learning algorithms.

Content filtering systems look at customer profile and metadata on items and creates a watch list, and also recommend similar items to customers that this customer has liked in the past. A similarity scores calculated between any two items and recommends to the customer based on profile and interest. It starts with creating item profiles for each of the items. The customer profile is created using item profiles that the customer has liked and recommends items that this customer might like based on earlier preferences.

Unsupervised Learning has no label data and no prediction of any output. It finds interesting patterns and forms groups within the data. Clustering is typically used for customer segmentation and anomaly detection.

Natural Language Processing is an area where machines learn and understand the textual data to perform tasks. NLP collects text documents, divides the sentence into words, removes stopwords, converts the text into a numerical vector, and tracks unique words as vocabulary, counts the word, and normalizes the frequency of word occurrence.

Text Mining using machine learning involves building a text classification model and uses it for predictions on text data and to predict the sentiment of any given product review. Embedding technique can compare two distinct viewer journies on similarity and predict the probability of conversion by analyzing the average time spent on each of the unique pages. This is also used in supervised ML across use cases such as next possible action prediction, converted vs non-converted, product classification.

Deep Learning provides better feature extraction from item characteristics (text, image, video, audio). Deep Learning techniques such as convolutions and recurrent neural networks allow to model the structure and order in the data for performance improvements. Collaborative deep learning allows two-way interactions between rating matrix and content. With Deep Learning, the properties of the content (images, video, text) are incorporated into recommendations. Using Deep Learning, item-to-item relations are based on a much more comprehensive picture of the product and less reliant on manual tagging and interactional histories.

In summary, companies must think of customer and user scenarios first. Be a customer-focused data-driven company and measure critical moments of interaction to cross-sell and upsell with a Wow experience! You also need a reliable long-term partner who can provide advisory on digital, design a human experience, and engineer a scalable and intelligent solution to market.

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Customer Experience Enterprise Applications Fintech UX/UI

Customer Experience in FinTech and FinServ: the opportunity to build loyalty is now

Across the age spectrum, more people are opting or are at least open to using financial apps for managing tasks ranging from daily budgeting, stock investments, banking services, payments, or insurance needs. In 2019, consumers accessed financial apps over a trillion times. China, India, Brazil, United States, and South Korea were the Top 5 nations in terms of total sessions in finance apps.

Consumers love finance apps

According to the 2020 Mobile Finance Apps Report by Liftoff and AppAnnie, the install-to-register rate of finance apps is a healthy 46.2% indicating the willingness of users to not just download such apps but engage with them too. The install-to-purchase rate dips to 19% pointing to a lot more work needed to encourage usage. Entrepreneurs and the start-up community are betting big on FinTech, as well. Many of the breakout apps of 2019 were in FinTech from digital banking (e.g. Nubank), payments (Google Pay), and loan disbursement (e.g. KreditBee) to all-in-one super apps like PhonePe.

Traditional banks, long dependent on brick and mortar retail-based banking are trying to keep pace with changing consumer behaviors and digital experiences. Data shows that growth in average MAU from 2018 to 2019 was higher for FinTech apps than for legacy banking apps.

Change is the only constant

Fact is, the mobile app revolution, and how it would affect businesses, was a disruption that many industries did not foresee. Consumer preference and user experience in one domain has had an impact on other domains too. For example, urban mobility apps such as Uber have raised expectations of user experience for all transactional consumer apps. In that context, legacy banks must compete long used to brick & mortar banking are trying keep pace with new-age digital banks and FinTech companies in terms of ease-of-use, design aesthetics and ‘cool quotient’.

According to UserTesting of UK, a company focused on testing as a service, consumers were drawn to FinTechs for 3 major reasons: In-demand products and services, trusted recommendations and ease of use.

Utility bill payments, peer-to-peer lending, bank transfers, and more were made possible by FinTech apps, many of which started as digital wallets or simple payment services. The social buzz and recommendations from friends helped these apps gain traction. Ease of use is another factor that works in their favor.

Traditional banking apps have acquired a reputation, rightly or wrongly of being difficult to use. According to research from US-based finance portal. PAYMNTS, 54.1% of consumers surveyed said they would use their banking apps “much more often” if only they had more control over the authentication requirements of their apps.

Across financial services, especially banks, one can observe these common features:

Across financial services, especially banks, one can observe these common features

The FinTech and FinServe industries have two unique characteristics – the tasks consumers perform can be clubbed as ‘routine’ and ‘risky’. Product owners need to address these through a mix of technology and human instinct. In other words, Artificial Intelligence for the routine and Emotional Intelligence for the risky. Banks are already using AI technologies to automate routine banking tasks such as resetting passwords, checking account balances, transferring funds between accounts or paying monthly bills.

According to a Bain & Co report, consumers prefer digital channels, but they give higher Net Promoter Scores to companies that allow customers to speak with a representative to resolve a problem. Emotional intelligence has a role to play especially in providing a personal service experience during a stressful situation.

The post COVID world and financial services

Shifts in consumer behavior during uncertain times, such as the current global pandemic, accelerates the need for digital even more.  According to a recent report “Credit Union Innovation Playbook” by PYMNTS, “the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a remarkable shift in the ways consumers want to bank — away from brick-and-mortar branches — making it much more crucial to improve digital banking services”.

It is not all black and white when it comes to consumer behavior towards financial services. The one factor which legacy brands enjoy, at least among the older consumers, is familiarity and trust. Longevity and the comfort factor of seeing physical branches dotted across the city subliminally can create positive brand equity – a feeling of ‘having been around’. In contrast, new-age digital banks may have to work harder to earn the trust of consumers. 51.1% of credit union members in the US cite “trust” and “risk of fraud” as the biggest barriers to trying new-age banks. According to EY, ‘responsible banking’ is more important than ever as consumers indicate their ‘future purchasing decisions will be impacted by banks actively supporting the community, being transparent in all they do, and ensuring they are doing good for society’. What does all this have to do with customer experience? The short answer is:  everything. Here are the reasons why:

The business success of financial services and FinTech brands will increasingly depend on how they master the digital experience. Genuine, meaningful product differentiation is difficult in the highly regulated banking and finance industry. Enterprises are faced with two challenges:  How to drive customer engagement with limited differentiation at the product level while increasing volume and velocity in customer acquisition? The answer is crafting a superior customer experience across all digital channels.

Retention is the new growth. Enterprises know that new customer acquisition comes at a high price. However, retaining and growing the lifetime value of an existing customer (active or inactive) is usually a cheaper way to increase revenue. Design Thinking methodologies come into play here. Implementing strategies to encourage loyalty (and therefore retention) can often be a more successful strategy than chasing new audiences. Citibank’s research found that 83% of consumers (that number goes up to 94% among Millennials) are more likely to participate in a loyalty program if they can access the program easily from their mobile phone.

Now more than ever before, Empathy is the key. It is said that all our decisions in life are driven by the emotional brain, rather than the rational one. One would imagine it is even more so in the current times. At Robosoft we strive to understand the emotional triggers that act as barriers or motivators for actions when interacting with a digital product. When working on a FinTech product even a simple task of paying bills can evoke a diverse set of emotions.

Now more than ever before, Empathy is the key

When working on a peer-to-peer lending product for the US market, we created an emotional map of a user which looked like this:

Emotional map

In a world that is increasingly adopting remote working, marketers may not be able to get a first-hand feeling of consumer motivations or behavior. In this context, getting the customer experience right throughout the consumer buying journey is a critical building block for brand loyalty. The key is in approaching product creation from the POV of building long-lasting customer relationships rather than regular transactions.

Human instinct and customer experience

The advertising legend Bill Bernbach once famously said in the context of marketing communications that ‘It took millions of years for man’s instincts to develop. It will take millions more for them to even vary. It is fashionable to talk about the changing man. A communicator must be concerned with unchanging man, with his obsessive drive to survive, to be admired, to succeed, to love, to take care of his own.” One can extrapolate this observation to digital experiences too as product owners should remember that basic human instincts will remain unchanged and are common across domains.

In the context of customer experience which can drive brand loyalty there are common principles applicable across categories – be it FinTech, OTT streaming services or food delivery apps. Some of the principles applicable to Financial Service are:

Focus on users over products: at a recent webinar, famous author Seth Godin spoke about enterprises designing more for their benefit than that of the users. As an example, he mentioned how easy it is to remember secure 6-digit numerical passcodes for apps. But when an enterprise introduced a seven-digit numerical passcode citing seemingly extra security they have not considered the friction it is likely to cause. It is an example of doing what matters to the enterprise first rather than the user.

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Design Thinking workshops and user research tools help gain insights into consumer needs. Remember, users may never be able to explicitly convey or may not even know what they need. It takes expertise to interpret their pain points and derive meaningful insights that can be put into action.

Think experience, then features: it is always tempting for product owners to pack in all the features that they think are ‘nice to have’ or likely give a competitive edge. But what is sacrificed is simplicity which could lead to a sub-optimal product experience. At Robosoft, our strategy & design teams work closely with product owners in enterprises to prioritize features that are important to the user at every stage of the product roadmap. We must also remember that we can’t have it all – we have to lose some to gain some. In a banking product, a balance needs to be sought between convenience and security.

Think experience, then features

Create an emotional connection: just as some movies, books, and songs evoke an emotional response in us, digital experiences have a potential too, in their own way. It doesn’t mean that using a bank’s mobile app should move one to tears (may happen if it is out of frustration!) just as some movies impact us emotionally. It is about creating a subtle feeling of accomplishment, productivity, safety or whatever is the relevant parameter for that category and product.

Key emotions that a Financial app should address:

Key emotions that a Financial app should address

Copywriting for UX is also an aspect which product owners need to pay attention.

UX copywriting, or user-experience copywriting, is the act of writing and structuring copy that moves digital users, like visitors and customers, toward accomplishing a goal in an intuitive way.’

There is both science and an art to copywriting which helps accomplish tasks better. Tone of voice and brand personality can also be reflected in the copy. The language used in say, a small-loan lending platform will vary from that of a high-end wealth management app.

Provide clear and precise directions: unlike say a trivia game where confusing instructions could lead to minor irritations and friction, financial services deal with a lot more ‘serious subject of money. Confusing navigation or language can lead to errors that can cost money to the user and erode trust in the brand.

Provide clear and precise directions

Use analytics regularly to give users what they want: baking analytics into the product at the very beginning ensures that the right metrics are tracked for continuous product improvement and personalization.

Use analytics regularly to give users what they want

Integrate technologies seamlessly: both consumer-facing experiences and backend processes can be made better by emerging technologies. Blockchain, robo-advisors, process automation, voice, and chatbots have roles to play in improving customer experience. In the post COVID world, video banking may see a surge as well as the need to invest in

Provide an intuitive & interactive experience: According to Interaction Design, ‘a user is able to understand and use a design immediately—that is, without consciously thinking about how to do it—we describe the design as “intuitive.” In the context of FinTech or FinServ apps the process could start right from the login method, conveying a sense of safety & privacy, using AI to monitor and predict transactions and more.

Be inclusive: user experience which works for all must be the mantra when crafting digital experiences. Websites and mobile apps that understand the needs of visually or hearing impaired and other eventualities must be considered. Uber’s consumer app, for example, notifies the commuter of any special needs the driver might have. Some food delivery brands think not only of the consumer but of the delivery executive too by urging the user to consider a tip. Food delivery apps like Zomato also highlight the profile of the delivery executive, giving a brief summary of his or her aspirations thus making the experience more humane and inclusive.

In sum, the unchanging human instincts we spoke about earlier, the‘obsessive drive to survive, to be admired, to succeed, to love, to take care of our own’ has come to the fore more than ever. The recent global pandemic has added new dimensions to customer experience in financial services. It is a great opportunity for enterprises to build a competitive business edge through great customer experience.

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