I attended to the Future of Web Design 08 Conference with the Strikers (www.strikedesigns.co.uk) Yesterday, it was essentially a good show, did not really have anything to do with the future as such and in quite a few places was telling us how to suck eggs but here is what I thought was good from a Business Web Marketing perspective:

Brand Experience vs User Experience as explained by Steve Pearce from Poke. This is essentially a battle which should not occur, they should complement each other. He went on to mention how the brand experience is effectively the look of (in this case) the web site, and how most clients want a highly polished site but normally think very little about what the user will experience when on their site. This is key as most users will spread the word about good an bad experiences, the brand experience is essentially the initial association the user has with their brand but will not necessary turn them into ambassadors as brands are complicated psychological things and to really gain the emotional ties to develop brand ambassadors you must create a great User Experiences. He mentioned the iceberg theory not one of his own but worth reading up on, below is a brief slide show all about it created by Trevor Van Gorp.

The next what I deemed relevant presentation was from Andy Budd (Clear Left) spoke about the User Experience Design Curve, he mainly used analogies to hotel services, what makes the experience that extra bit special and how it really can benefit your business i.e .the more people that enjoy the experience the more likely they are to recommend it or speak about it to their peers. Andy mentioned that there are lots of peaks and troughs within the user experience which is a natural progression (providing the troughs to drop too low) without a low you cannot have a high, what he mentioned that was essential was that they must start and finish on highs.

Here’s my simple graphic interpretation

User Experience

So ideally this is what a user should be experiencing when visiting your site. An a typical user will visit the site and initially they love it, it is personalised to them (i.e. it provides them with prompts if they have not been there before or welcomes them by name if they have logged in before), the site is slick looking welcoming and professional, as the user navigates through the site, they will experience peaks and troughs perhaps from learning a new piece of functionality within the site or finding piece of information they been looking for, at the end (as they leave the site or get ready to leave the site) they must feel they have accomplished what they set out to achieve, perhaps this was find that all important information they we’re looking for, or uploading and sharing a photo or completing the purchase of a product. It’s important to note that the experience will not end here for the user, they may receive feedback from friends with regard to a photo or when they receive there purchased item the brand experience becomes involved as the packaging has been personalised to them or provides incentive to revisit the site.

The final speech that interested me was from Paul Farnell at Litmus, he spoke about Unconventional Methods of Promoting your Website.

He first clarified the conventional methods, email, blogging, SEO, SEM he mentioned the fact that he does use these but they are not his companies main focus as these will tend to bring low quality, unqualified visits. His company work more on community, human and satellite factors here’s my brief explanation of what each of these are:

COMMUNITY – become active part of communities online (and offline), if there is not a community specifically for you create one yourself by inviting people from other communities that you are already involved and trusted within the community,

To gain this trust you must act in a HUMAN likable manner within these communities, there is no point spamming threads and comments about how good your product is, but it is acceptable to have a link or some reference to your product or service in the signature of any helpful comments you may wish to answer/post, this will help you build up trust and create a buzz around your product, people will begin to visit your site as they find you helpful.

Satellite offerings are free complimentary websites or products that provide value to or answer a problem for users, they tend to require little maintenance. These are used to promote your main website and provide link backs to it. Strike Designs (a company I do some consultancy work for) have a satellite offering at the moment in the form of TUNITY www.tunityintranet.com – Tunity Intranet Portal provides a private FREE, shared this company home page allowing you to maximise your communications and streamline your business operations.
Its features include:
Shared or private tasks / events
Shared or private links
Manage and share files and resources
Stay up to date
Access anywhere
It’s still very much in the beta stages as you’ll see it still has an image place holder.

My only comment about the unconventional methods of promoting your site or business, is they are very time consuming so although they may bring about better results they can take up a large amount of effort and it is something you must keep active within, its all about what budget and time constraints you may have as a business to plough into these resource hungry tasks

Hope this post has been of some interest, please give me some of your comments

Here is My favorite presentation and talk from Steve Pearce

Andy Clarke and Steve Pearce – FOWD London 2008 from Future of Web Design on Vimeo.