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Digital Deep End - COVID-19 & User Experience

Digital Deep End - Learn to Swim

By Ramsay Crooks

We hear it over and over. “These are unprecedented and challenging times.” We’ve said it too and heard the same from our customers and partners repeatedly in recent weeks. It’s true, it’s obvious and it’s mildly comforting to say and to hear. 

While both unprecedented and challenging, the “what” (a daily-life and economic freeze) and the “why” (COVID-19) of the situation we are in are quite clear. 

So now what do we do? What can those of us with a digital outlet – whether that be a website or app for your business or organization, or those of us with digital consulting skills and services – actually do to address and overcome this moment? 

Nobody likes being thrown into the deep end of a cold pool. But we’re all here and we have to find the surface. Then, we swim. We mustn’t shy away from this challenge.

The digital tectonics of our economy – for both consumers and businesses – were in play long before COVID-19 grabbed the world by the throat and started to squeeze. Some businesses were leading or embracing this revolution in stride, others acknowledged these forces and planned to slowly evolve toward better digital experiences… still others ignored them altogether, their digital presence an afterthought. 

But now - and nearly overnight - two seismic shifts have forced rapid change to consumers and organizations equally:

     1. Everyone - from “digital natives” and “power users” to “digital novices” - has been forced online due to mandatory physical distancing to slow the spread of the virus. All audiences are now more likely to engage with relevant business online; not just those who are comfortable and used to it. This is exposing the weaknesses in your user experience UX. 

How? Those comfortable in digital may be forgiving now, but that grace period is quickly closing. Meanwhile, those who are newly thrust into the digital deep end are experiencing frustration, both with the websites they’re on and with their own digital skillset. Without bricks and mortar infrastructure to fall back on, a sub-optimal digital user experience is no longer a nuisance... It's a choke point for your organization.

This holistic shift in user behavior also means that the wealthiest user cohort in our country - those ages 65 and up - are jumping online and learning new digital skills. In the past, many who traditionally kept digital experiences at arms length by choice were, in turn, largely ignored by the architects of digital. This mutually imposed “digital divide” is being forced to close. 

     2. The economy has slowed and resources are much more scarce than they were just weeks ago. Income and revenue are way off and will likely sputter in the near- and mid-term. For the sake of your business and your customers, every dollar invested in digital experience (DX) now needs to work a hell of a lot harder.  From money spent in paid, affiliate and organic traffic acquisition, to customer support team bandwidth and product or service delivery, all of it demands better UX.

We at CXperts feel these changes represent a permanent shift in how consumers and companies will interact online. It’s not just “right now,” but “from from here on out,” that we need to adjust for. It’s a near-term / long-term kind of thing. 

Solutions: A Digital Life Ring… and Doing the Digital Back Stroke

Investing in UX isn’t some luxury to maybe pay attention to only in the good times. It’s not the fancy option package for your car. It’s the car’s very necessary steering wheel and windshield. Thanks to new tech and streamlined processes, investing in UX doesn’t have to break your budget.

It’s time to get smarter about how customers engage and interact with organizations online so we can quickly understand how to both deliver and receive maximum value from each digital interaction. Giving consumers the best experience is an efficiency and resiliency play across the board. 

CX and UX improvements can help everyone better navigate this challenge and help businesses thrive as they “establish the new normal” on the other side of this pandemic. CXperts and its network of UX technology and digital service providers can help yours be among those businesses.