Are Digital User Experience Lessons Applicable In The Real World?
I was enjoying a surprisingly delicious cappuccino yesterday with the owners of an online healthy grocery (hopefully a future partner for Bald Baker) when an interesting notion came up. While it has always been my intention, it had never really been vocalized that I was applying many online User Experience (aka UX) best practices to the real world. We laughed about that; most people apply real world experiences to enhance the online journey, particularly as it relates to shopping, and not the other way around.
Not us... per usual, Bald Baker is doing things differently.
So.. what is UX? There isn't really an internationally standardized or recognized definition. UXdesign.com created an agonizingly long definition, while AllaboutUX created a white paper on it best practices. I had the distinct honor and pleasure to work for Mona Patel, the Founder and CEO of Motivate Design, a UX Design Agency in NY, where I learned everything I know about the philosophy, which is just the tip of the iceberg. In short, it's the application of design thinking to optimize the user's experience through an intended journey. Sounds like BS, but it isn't. Like the Force, it's real. All of it.
At Motivate, we applied really high-level design thinking to quite a few online destinations and digital sites. Our clients relied on us to create simple, engaging and valuable experiences for their own users (consumers, clients, whatever you want to call them). This was usually in the context of an online shop or the online introduction of a new product, or the launch of a website that was meant to drive traffic and ultimately, purchases, etc. We could discern why a user left their shopping cart after going through the entire process, or how to get a user to click on an intended page once they're on the site. We'd breakdown every touch point that the user had with the company's brand and map out a strategy to enhance it and keep the consumer moving forward along an intended journey. The bulk of the work took place in the digital world creating or optimizing digital experiences.
Even with Amazon that has really shortened the buying process down to as few steps as possible, a consumer still gets the impetus to buy a product, researches it, clicks on the website, scrolls to learn more, clicks on "buy now," confirms shipping and payment information, reclicks "confirm purchase" and then receives an email. That's if everything goes according to Amazon's intended user experience. Similar to the online journey a user goes through, at Bald Baker, we realize there is a dessert experience that actually has many parts to it. Just like committing by pushing the "buy now" button, a person about to indulge in a slice of cake or a cookie or something else that is the physical manifestation of a craving goes through a quite a few steps just to get to that blissful first bite.
Close your eyes and imagine the last time you ate a delicious cookie. What did you do right before? Recently, I read very positive reviews about the chocolate chunk cookie at Maman, a Toronto bakery. Start counting the number of interactions I have with the company. Review is #1. Then I get it into my head that I need to go and try it. Impetus to act is interaction #2. After conducing some online research, I purposefully book a meeting downtown nearby so I can pop in afterwards. Interaction #3. I walk over on that fateful day and get presented with the facade of the bakery and have to walk up a flight of stairs. Climbing steps and walking through the entrance - interaction #4. First impression of bakery - interaction #5. Walk up to order counter and get greeted - interaction #6. Set my sights on the cookie and order - interaction #7. At this point, I'm really anticipating this cookie. I haven't even tried it and my expectations are through the roof. The smells of the bakery, the ambiance, the visuals of the cookie - all part of my user experience. It's now the cookie's job to follow through and delight. Look at the cookie, smell the cookie, break off a piece of the cookie, eat the cookie - interactions #8, 9, 10 & 11. Take a picture of the cookie - interaction #12. Instagram it - interaction #13. Write a blog post about the entire experience - interaction #14. FOURTEEN!!!! That's a crazy amount of touch points that Maman has had with me just for a cookie.
We were thinking about every one of those interactions when we created our products and indeed, our company. For too many, the dessert experience is fraught with peril. I've seen so many troubling, if not sad, "Bald Baker Moments" in which three out of the four people at the table are happily indulging, and the fourth is just miserable. His choices are: indulge and bear disastrous consequences; abstain and be envious, miserable or frustrated; or finally, settle for something else (see the consequences of abstention). We've reconstructed that to focus on the positive - what you can eat vs. what you can't.
We created a unique brand that positively reinforces who you are and the decision you've made to indulge. Bald Baker has really leaned on its understanding of the anticipation that goes hand in hand with buying and eating a dessert. It's akin to a seduction in which all of your senses are stimulated.
Interaction #1 with Bald Baker is a smile when you see or hear of our brand. We purposefully don't call ourselves sugar-free because that evokes a strong mental reaction about the assumed taste or quality. Sugar Conscious: seeing that term begs the question and you want to know more - interaction #2. Emailing or finding us at a farmers' market, or in store - interaction #3. Smiling when seeing our caricature or the grittiness of our packaging font and all the other branding elements - interaction #4. (We're a cookie company after all, so we can't take ourselves too seriously.) Asking for a sample, or more information - #5. Being handed the cookie/brownie from the actual smiling Bald Baker wearing the signature apron - #6. The seemingly prolonged first touch/bite sequence (one of the most important) - #s 7, 8, 9 & 10. That smile - all the endorphins being released from that first blissful bite - we want that journey from first brand introduction to instagramming your find to be one of joy, of satisfaction, of fulfillment, of the release of tension and finally, of excitement.
You deserve to be able to indulge. We believe that and we believe that you should have healthy, delicious and exciting alternatives available to you that enable you and empower you to do so. We want every step along the way to reflect that philosophy and we hope you're enjoying the journey as much as we are enjoying creating it.