If I walk down the street, I’m ingesting gigabits of data as a human being and if the computer does that, how do you react to that and respond to that and adapt that to the real world?
Jeff Dance is the CEO and Founder of Fresh Consulting, a creative and digital technology company headquartered in Seattle. The 12-year-old company has four offices and employs 300 people, primarily digital strategists, UX designers, software developers, and engineers. Fresh has been ranked one of Seattle Business Magazine’s top 100 places to work three years in a row.
In this episode of Velocitize Talks, Dance shares his insights into how the user experience, content, and smart machines will all play a part in the future of brand marketing.
The Nature of UX Design (1:32)
I think quality matters today and experience matters a lot more. That’s where UX plays center stage.
The user experience plays a key role in cutting through all the noise that comes with digital marketing. “You need to be able to differentiate,” Dance says. “You need to be able to customize, you need to be relevant. All that matters is connecting with your real user that you’re targeting.”
Solid UX design requires visuals that tell a clear and compelling story to your identified end user. The first step in this process is to clearly understand the end user: what they want and need. Conducting user research, testing, and analysis will help provide a more comprehensive understanding of your audience.
Stories That Matter (3:13)
Stories stick. You remember stories. They connect with us emotionally.
“Story is the heart of good branding,” Dance says. “It’s also the heart of good content.” He identifies a brand as a collection of artifacts—not just a single name or logo—that tells a story to the user. It’s critical, therefore, to use stories that target a brand’s real users. “We’re seeking out and appreciating quality content more, and the story is a big part of that,” says Dance.
In 2019, for example, Fresh Consulting’s client Facebook asked them to help build a website to showcase their new Diversity & Inclusion report. Fresh crafted the story behind the Facebook programs in order to detail their progress toward diversity in the workforce.
The Value of Content (4:02)
The web and the internet continue to be the backbone of connectivity, and digital and content is at the center of that.
Websites aren’t going anywhere. The website serves as the central channel that hosts all of a brand’s information and resources. This will increase the strategic value of a website and how it is utilized to respond to what a specific visitor is looking for.
The key, of course, is content. Dance remarks that it is not only quality of the content but also the quantity of the content that matters. Creating content that is easy to read as well as user-friendly is the ultimate priority as users want to be able to scan information quickly and efficiently. Amazing UX lies at the intersection of informative, accessible content and stellar website design.
Data and Smart Machines (5:39)
We see it coming, where machines and things can truly be smart. Things have been connected, technology’s been connected, but it hasn’t really been smart.
Artificial Intelligence and autonomous systems represent huge potential from marketing to smart machines, to the industrial space as well as robotics. “We’re at the frontier where machines are driven by us or directed by us. And sensing the real world and being autonomous is this new frontier that we’re working on,” says Dance.
When people walk down the street, they’re taking in gigabits of data. The next frontier is going to be when a computer can react, respond, and adapt that data to the world around us. As consumers become increasingly comfortable with relying on computers, the businesses that offer the best user-to-software interactions will win their loyalty. The easier a business’s service is to use, and the more modern and streamlined it is, the more attractive consumers will find it.
Softer Side of Robotics (7:57)
I don’t think they’ve factored in enough of the UX side of robotics.
It’s undeniable that consumer robotics has come a long way in the past few decades. The goal of brands focused on consumer robots is to make lives easier and simpler. Dance acknowledges there is some amazing engineering, “but if you think about integration and change management and the soft side of machines, it matters a lot if we’re going to allow them to integrate into our work. And it matters even more if we’re going to allow them to integrate into our homes.”
Designing with intent is key. Considering the human side of creating user-friendly technology where robots can do more of the mechanical work takes a lot of harmony around design and machines. One company that is doing this well is iRobot. The consumer robot company designs and builds robots that empower people to do more both inside and outside of the home.
iRobot’s Roomba vacuum has been a major success in making a household chore easier. Their mopping product the Braava, however, had a product failure because it required too much human intervention. It also created extra work in order for it to be successful. “We really need a product that points to how delicate that balance is, where it needs to augment us and help us be our best selves or integrate with something we’re doing to make it easier,” says Dance.
This episode of Velocitize Talks was originally recorded in 2019 in Seattle and has been updated accordingly.