For years, many companies have been struggling to maintain their position in the ever-busy markets where consumers seek various information regarding products or services they need. People will put standards and expectations on what they want before they scroll down the list and quickly pass any market that confuses them and does not meet their criteria. In that sense, making sure that these customers find what they want and dedicate their attention to our domain is the primary objective of making a good design engagement.
Yet, we might have been asking the same question all this time. What is engagement? How will it affect customers or users? How is a design relevant for engagement?
Jesse James Garrett, in his UX Salon presentation, stated that designing experience is also designing engagement. Yet, there are many scopes that human attention can encompass, which spans from the web, technology, products, public service, and so on. In current days, these scopes mold into one singular unity that provides a collection of experiences that could be obtained by anyone through online or offline measures. This unity is what we later call a multi-channel experience.
A good designer can create a design that accommodates all the constraints and still delivers an elegant, satisfying experience to the user. A great designer can go beyond this and create a design that demonstrates that some of those constraints weren’t there, to begin with - James Garrett
First of all, Garrett also said that nobody could design experience. Why is it so? Experience has several characteristics that make it impossible to design. Experience is:
The subjectivity of experience means that it comes from each one’s perspective. It is personal and unique to us. Meanwhile, intangible explains its role as something that we cannot physically grasp or demonstrate since it is mostly about the recount. The last one would be temporary, which means that experience is finite. It goes through a fast time and is not always available as a static object. With that in mind, we might have another question, “is it possible to offer the experience to people without the object itself being present for them?”
For us, it could sound like a trick question. It is, once again, a matter of perspective. Instead of busy looking at the system and mechanic of a medium for experience, we should take a different focus to obtain a suitable start: humans. Thus, there is a reason why it is also called “human engagement.” We want to find out how our designers can affect what humans feel based on their personal experience. It is also required to happen without relying on the existence of or beyond a medium. This type of approach might sound like a meta-cognitive approach, but there is more to it than it seems.
Now, we can get a bit of understanding from Garrett’s concept of designing experience. If we have to make it short, we create anything cross-platform and media that produces human experience as the direct result. Furthermore, we still try to accomplish our first goal of designing human engagement, and that is when the term “engagement” comes into play. It becomes our final goal in designing experience.
If we look at engagement itself and how its design will affect people in general, we must look at its nature. There are various opinions about this, but they are mostly the same considering the pattern. To not get you confused, we will only include one theory: Scott Gould, an author, and expert of engagement design remarks that there are three engagement dimensions.
The first one is engagement as an expression which deals with people’s mental cognition. Even though some of us are aware that engagement does not always revolve around getting people’s attention, it is fundamentally the primary reason people keep engaged with our products or services. For example, there is research which states classical music could help people to focus on their study “without” getting the attention and staying enjoyable to listen to. That is also a form of engagement. So, mental cognition here talks about human senses and awareness.
The next one is engagement as an encounter. Here, we discuss how design serves as a physical demonstration or action. People can directly get involved with the process, though not always necessary. The lying foundation of this is that we can provide powerful imagery of what people would do when they get engaged. By far, it is also the type of engagement design that is most challenging to maintain because it deals with customers’ activity with the services.
Lastly, we have engagement as empowerment. It talks about the emotional domain and interconnection between one person to another and the environment surrounding them. If we must say, it is a pure form of experience which is often related to encounters. Even though it is not always the case since some people might base their interest in their cognition, empowerment from an engagement is still a fundamental nature that we, designers of experience, can use to get their attention.
Looking at how the explanation above provides us with such information, we think we can somehow agree that design is essential for human engagement. Whether it is for customers or users, below are three primary reasons why designing for engagement is relevant and able to give us benefits:
1. It makes your company visible to customers
You can imagine how much offer and advertising is coming at you regularly daily in the middle of high waves of information. You are required to pay attention to these engagements, which have been designed to get your interest. And not in rare cases, it could overwhelm you. Yet, we pick a jewel among pebbles. The one on top will always be the unique, fresh, and the most attractive to our taste and criteria.
If we try to take a few seconds to sit and think about this, something that comes out as engaging will have a higher rate to be successful. It is a fact, and we have been dealing with this regularly. For example, "Pokémon Go” signed a collaboration with food companies to get new venues where Go players can play and buy food at the same time if necessary. Look at how the company could stay on the hit while keeping their customers engaged with the application and increasing the joint company’s profit through market share. It might also build trust between two companies that are in partnership. The point is that engaging customers has to be in many aspects to gain the profit potential fully
2. It is related to company profitability
Do you remember that experience is finite? It also works the same for human attention to things that they get engaged with. In a sense, people find a certain degree of value when deciding to pay attention to what we offer to them. Be sure to count that attention on theirs since they are the ones who determine the success of your company’s goal. Merely getting attention is not just enough. We must understand that designing an engagement experience is what the customers are doing before, during, and after they get engaged.
You can now try to think about the number of applications available in online stores such as Google Play Store or Apple’s. We have downloaded several of them in a while and among them, you can count with your fingers how many applications you remain committed to. Generally, customers spend their time and investment in five apps or below. Either you are looking for utility or enjoyment, this is where companies think hard to design an engaging application for their customers. The more you engage, the more you might buy, invest, and share exciting products or services with your relations, such as family or friends.
So, how many applications did you install and forget to use again on your smartphone?
3. It becomes the public image of your company
Why has it become so important now that you can attract customers? The product you offer to them is the first impression that your company provides. Customers’ patience will go as far as their temporary experience, and you will not have much time to convince them to stay around your product if you give them less attractive designs for engagement. Can you imagine that you are shown a lackluster engagement design in their web, outdated information, and unresponsive services? We believe you will close that tab sooner and start to think of another company to have a business with.
Your design shows the company’s professionalism and confidence. It will provide a sense of trust and reassurance to your customers that they put their investment in the right place. They know where to ask for guidance when they have to and request an explanation when necessary to revise or discuss. Suffice to say; it is the face and crucial part of your company.
Now that we have come this far with the primary reasons, we hope that you will get a better understanding of the relevance of design for engagement. It all comes in phases where you need to understand what human engagement is and why it is related to their experience, followed by the nature of knowledge and attention itself. Then, we can begin to look at the market, to the people themselves. Your work’s success rate also depends on the sheer creativity of ideas you can pour into it while sharing them with your colleague for potential improvement. Once again, the design remains relevant for human engagement. You can think of one starting now. Good luck!
Ulfah Alifah Yuliarso is an SEO Manager & Content Writer with two years’ experience. She currently works for RRGraph Design, a presentation design agency that offers PowerPoint design services with affordability.