I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, I remember computers as a device for work more than personal use. My parents bought our first computer when I was about 11 years old and primarily used it for work. For the first time, a device allowed them to do work from home. My brother and I had limited access to it at first, and as the Internet evolved and more and more new games were released, we gained more access and slowly the computer transitioned to a family device, not to mention an increase in feuds too.
It was clear from the start that the brands that understood the internet and maximised on the opportunities it presented were the brands that saw the most growth. Exponential, previously unheard of growth.
They called it the .com boom, but a more accurate description would be the .com nuclear explosion.
Interfaces and websites back then looked horrific. They were illogical, difficult to use and lacked the sexiness you see in interfaces today.
What has changed?
Web design changed fast and dramatically.
Big brands started seeing websites as a core part of their brand identity. An extension of the brand on the web and now handheld devices.
If the brand is there to represent values and emotions, there are no exceptions — every asset created by the brand needs to be applied on the website too, and now apps.
Since the mid-2000s, companies have increased investment into their online presence, especially since the growth of social media, which is one of the primary marketing touch points today. Since brands were now reaching their audiences through digital first, a strong focus shifted towards visuals and the experience created by them.
Now you can measure things
The major advantage you have with digital, besides the directly targeted reach, is its ability to provide a vast variety of analytics that traditional channels like TV, Newspapers, and Billboards could never do. Behind these statistics is feedback from real people. They show you what is more attractive and what isn’t, what works and what doesn’t. What is supporting the business objective and what isn’t? The combination of the drive to create beautiful brand assets, the ability to measure their performance and get valuable feedback has given birth to User Experience ( UX ).
These newly discovered web analytics guided designers and developers to create breathtakingly beautiful visuals and to create perfect user experiences that work. Experiences that keeps users engaged and converted. With numbers and design thinking combined, creative teams can optimise the experience that guides users through their desired actions quickly.
UX is the meeting point between art and science. It’s about utilising scientific research and experimenting to create art that supports business goals.
UX became the standard
You cannot ignore UX.
If you have hopes of your website being found and deliver leads or sales, you cannot ignore UX. Users visit websites for various reasons and to get them to complete certain tasks they have to find it first, with minimal effort.
Apart from the query itself and the relevance of the content you provide, Google requires you to provide a proper user experience.
As their bots crawl your website, they check whether the loading time is short, the images are properly described, what’s the experience on mobile and so on. They are the requirements that your website needs to meet, but it all stems deeply from the UX.
Performance is highly important. Users judge your brand by their experience on your app or website. Disappoint them on experience and they will drop their impression of your products or services. They go very much hand in hand.
Movement is the new flat
UX revolutionised the building of apps and websites, and similarly, a new movement has risen to change the way businesses produce their videos. Video and animation have become the centrepiece of digital experiences.
The video is now the preferred source of information worldwide and on all platforms and it overcomes barriers like time, language and culture like no other medium before it. The video takes complex product introductions and simplifies the message into an easy to understand 60-second sales pitch.
A simple A-B test will prove that video is way more effective than text or images. Create a landing page with a video on and another with only an image and text that explains your product. Sit back and see what happens. The analytics will clearly favour the video page.
The question now on your mind is why?
Video is more in touch with our own human nature. It is closer to our reality and easier to comprehend than text or photos. Video can transfer emotions and create memorable connections. Think about wedding videos compared to photos. The still images show you what the day looked like, how people dressed and what food was present. Video transfers the emotions of the day through music, speeches, tears rolling down a cheek, facial expressions need I say more? You get the idea.
The best of all, is we don’t need special devices to watch videos. Unlike the past where we required a DVD player connected to some sort of screen to watch video, we now live in a time where videos can be watched instantly from the palms of our hands from a variety of devices. A video gets posted online and it is instantly accessible to 7 billion people. Today we are totally overwhelmed by content and our lives get fuller and fuller, so naturally, time to spend reading has decreased significantly. People want information at their fingertips and they want to digest it as fast as possible. Text takes a lot of time to read and the reader is left to put together their own emotions, which means they might miss the real message. People tend to skim over long pieces of text which means they could easily miss what you are trying to say.
On the other side, there are marketers and business owners who see higher engagement with the video and more leads and conversions brought by it. The whole market is therefore convinced that they just have to use video. No matter what it is and how it is made, it has to be there.
Just as UX has become a prerequisite of website or interface design, so has video. The design first approach has now evolved into a video first approach.
Meet the all-new Viewer Experience ( VX )
It is still early days for video in digital experience design, its full potential will only be revealed over the next few years. What I am very sure of is that if you don’t have a video focused design process now, you are going to fall behind and it will become increasingly difficult to recover.
Every aspect of design has a purpose. Every button placement was the result of deep research and A/B testing. All that to entertain, engage, amaze, and guide users across the webpage and convert them to customers.
Video is doing the exact same thing.
Until now videos were considered separate assets that flow out of the interface’s functionality to briefly explain something or advertise something. It was never part of the experience or functionality. The new approach is different. Video is now very much part of the brand and the journey of the user. Unlike cold Youtube embedded videos in the past, HTML5 provides creative opportunities to make video an integral part of the user flow inside the interface. This new Viewer Experience ( VX ) enables brands to tell their stories in an even more compelling way.
What is VX really?
VX is utilising all mediums, text, image, and video to create a more complete brand experience for viewers.
Even though videos have different purposes and are created for different channels and formats, they all fit into the brand’s identity and positioning. No matter if it is an animated infographic, explainer video, tutorial, social media video, pre-roll ad, or an on-boarding video in the platform. As with UX, every aspect of VX should be planned and executed carefully. You need to A/B test videos and use proper market research to go with the version that does the job best.
Press play to view this video
Press play to view this video
In order to create a successful video, you need answers to these questions.
- Who is the audience?
- What do they want to achieve?
- Where did they come from to the video?
- What was the previous step on their journey?
- What device are they using to watch it?
- What should they do after they view the video?
- How can you guide them towards there?
This is a long list and it’s not even all of them. Research the answer to each question carefully and comprehensively. With the answers, you then create mockups and prototypes and test and retest them to prove whether the concept will achieve your desired outcome. The rules work the same as it does for UX.
With repeatable results that support your goals, you can gain confidence to release the video. Or the opposite — work more on it.
This scientific approach might seem over the top or to system heavy and emotionless. Relax, not the case, the results are better.
Let’s test the two against each other. Knowing the VX approach with proper research and testing before final product is released, let’s look at the video creation process without it.
So, the creative team understands the brief of the video, they throw around some ideas and produce the coolest picks of the bunch. The final production gets uploaded to the particular channels on which it will be used. Time goes by and you gather the information you require for your report on whether it worked or not.
That’s ‘throw dirt and watch where it sticks’ game. It’s not doomed from day one. Some videos may become viral, some will die early on. There’s just a lot of uncertainty in such a process.
Viewer Experience is more focused on utilising time to deliver great videos, rather than dig through a bunch of scientific experiments. After the assumptions are formed, the creative work comes in heavily.
There are stories, formats, styles, and messages to be created. Video creation is, therefore, a process that involves and requires both science and art, the creative work and the research. This is how you create exceptional visuals that correspond to the brand and attract its audience.
Remember to hit play…
A shift to VX does come with challenges
VX does introduce new challenges to the creative world. Creatives need to rethink the way they approach visuals. This movement to VX is accelerating really fast and now that it has a name, more and more companies will get on board and join the movement.
The challenge lies in keeping VX standardised. All brand design touch points, websites, apps, or social media profiles will need a new design system that will guide users to action and keep them engaged. This new standard will take time. Brands need to re-think visuals, spend time on research, create the new systems and brand assets.
Is it worth the effort and investment?
The video below is the perfect example of how video is used to maximise content exposure to increase conversion rates. Here Invisionapp gives the user access to 3 videos just on the landing page alone, and above the fold. Incredible. Notice the first video is in the background, the second video options are in the bar at the top and the third video link is in the middle at the bottom.
Remember to hit play…
Here are the benefits
A standardised , well-researched visual brand style guide will take a lot of work and financial investment. But once the time and money have been spent, there will be much less guesswork and the brand visuals will be on an incredible and memorable standard. The more brands that follow this movement the more consistency will arise from it, introducing an entirely new way of brand engagement. I believe the end result will be highly beneficial to both brand and consumer. With the VX approach, brands will convert better, increasing sales while delivering valuable content to their audience desires, forming deeper, more meaningful connections.
With research and goals towards visuals in place, brands can target new segments with much higher confidence and a probability of success.
Although VX is more expensive than traditional mediums, the return is much higher, making it a worthwhile spend. Don’t think of it as how much you are going to spend, but rather how much will you be getting in return.
Focus your strategy around your return, not the spend.
When will this movement start?
We are already there, but the concepts are still very much experimental. We will see wider and wider adoption of VX across all brands in all industries in the years to come until it explodes in the same way UX did.
Should you join the movement?
Like any new thing that requires some effort to implement, smaller businesses might be more hesitant to join VX. Their advantage is the ability to adapt to the market faster, but on the other hand, they need to spend every dollar wisely to grow. VX will give them the ability to compete against the big brands on equal grounds.
It will be easier for the bigger, established brands to lead the VX movement — and this is what is happening right now, but it is easy enough for smaller companies to watch, learn and follow. The small businesses that follow first will be the ones that have the advantage above their competitors.
Early adopters will get great results. Those that will be too late when everyone will be using it, might end up just like any brand that was late for the worldwide change.
Where are you, Blackberry?
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