How to Create Powerful Experiences for Your Audience – Part I: Be Useful

Alicia Willard

Blog one of an eight-part series on the tenants of a powerful user or audience experience

There are many aspects that shape and build an experience. Think about the first time you used a train, bus, subway, or metro system. From the moment you thought about the potential transportation option, your experience with that transportation system started.
 
Will this public transportation option get me where I need to go? Will I be able to get all the information I need about the transportation system before I use it? Will I be able to navigate the routes and stops? Do I trust the drivers or technology powering the system? Do I want to take this transportation option rather than another? Will I be able to reach the first stop or easily get on? Will traveling via public transportation be beneficial to me in some way?
 
You may not even realize you ask yourself questions like these because you are answering them faster than you can ask them. However, they are there in the back of your mind, as are the answers (though answers may come later).

Powerful experiences are:

  • Useful
  • Usable
  • Findable
  • Credible
  • Desirable
  • Accessible
  • Valuable

Focusing in on Useful (I will dig into the rest in future posts) for this blog, the concept may seem like a no brainer. To be useful means to fulfill a need. However, because it’s obvious a brand, message, or campaign needs to be useful to its users and audiences, it’s easy to incorrectly assume what is useful to them.
 
On a basic level, public transportation fulfills the need for people who are trying to get from point A to point B. But human needs are complex. What if passengers need to get from point A to point B fast. Perhaps they need to get to point B at a specific time or with a significant amount of luggage. Does the transportation option provide top speed, consistent schedules, and/or accommodations for multiple suitcases?
 
This is an oversimplified analogy, of course, but one I think that showcases how vital it is to separate what we think users and audiences want from what they actually need.
 
How do you find out what users and audiences need? By asking and learning about what frustrates them or what makes their life easier.
 
Answers to all of these questions and more, from real people in your target audience, inform how to optimize usefulness, resulting in enhanced satisfaction and new gateways to meet your audience where they are, drive relevancy and context, and establish deeper connections and loyalty.

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