Consistency in multichannel digital experiences – Part 3: Implementation considerations
This article concludes our series on consistent multichannel digital experiences. In part one, we dealt with benefits and best practices of consistency, and in part two, we broke down the most basic technology considerations for creating consistent experiences. The third and final part will explore what to keep in mind when implementing a consistent multichannel strategy.
Your audience’s habits
An essential consideration in designing consistent experiences should be your target audience’s habits. Good data management and a dedicated, human approach to design are the most important requirements here.
Don’t forget to stay on top of societal and technological trends to be in the know about how these habits are changing. Additionally, due to recent and upcoming privacy regulations, try to learn as much about your audience as possible through first-party data, so you have a sustainable strategy for when 3rd-party cookies roll out.
One of the key considerations should also be securing consistency not just in the current experience, but also in the long term. Find and implement the right future-ready workflows that best suit your company, and opt for future-proof technology platforms to execute on your multichannel strategy so that you’re able to stay nimble and adapt quickly to emerging trends.
Your tech stack / legacy infrastructure
A major factor in how easy it is to create and manage multichannel experiences is your technology stack. Logically, an outdated stack will make this significantly more difficult than a technology infrastructure composed of up-to-date, modern technologies.
While technology platforms have made significant improvements in recent years to cater to the drastic changes in digital experiences, there are still those that are widely used, but aren’t optimized for creating multichannel experiences at scale.
A full implementation of a multichannel / omnichannel strategy might require you to move to a much newer version of the platform, which would be practically the same as moving to a whole new platform.
It might even happen that you’ll realize that such an upgrade is not feasible for your business and it is near impossible to justify the investment – in this case, you might need to do a lot of extra work to maintain consistency, perhaps even develop separate custom solutions each platform you know you’ll need, which will in turn likely produce huge additional costs and technical debt of their own.
On the other hand, the most modern platforms have all streamlined their multichannel capabilities; they’re either built in a way that facilitates that (e.g. a dedicated decoupled CMS), or integrations with any kind of other technology have been streamlined through community efforts and strategic priorities (e.g. Drupal as an API-first CMS).
Your IT capabilities
Closely tied to your legacy stack are your company’s technology capabilities. You can’t have consistent customer-centric experiences if you don’t have people who are skilled in the technologies most suitable for creating them.
If you don’t have the specific skills or capabilities needed, you can:
a) Build out specialized teams with those capabilities: this is probably the best choice if you know you’ll need long-term, continuous innovation and/or if your work involves a lot of company secrets (e.g. a custom, closed-source technology), where it would be too risky to bring outside experts in without proper vetting. → Adapt your HR processes to this endeavor if you decide that it’s the right approach for you.
b) Partner with specialized agencies to take care of the aspects that your in-house teams are lacking: this is by far the best option for bigger one-time projects and/or short-term collaborations where work is done with an open-source technology, meaning you can also check how actively they are involved in the technology and its community. In the case of Agiledrop, we provide 3 different degrees of collaboration:
c) * Additionally, you can hire freelancers rather than partner with an agency, but that will mean specific onboarding for each individual freelancer, a lot more effort in aligning them and ensuring they work well together, and a lot of potential issues down the road which accumulate the longer a collaboration takes, meaning it’s far less sustainable than an agency partnership.
If you don’t plan’t plan on building out in-house teams, your best bet is certainly partnering with digital agencies specialized in the specific area you’re looking for and having your project managers manage the newly formed teams; this will give you the best balance of control and flexibility.
The key in all three cases is getting your new team members, whether full-time and in-house or outsourced, up to speed and enabling them to synchronize their work with the rest of the company → align your teams, prevent and eliminate silos.
If you’re using or planning to use ecommerce, it’s vital that you ensure smooth and consistent experiences to facilitate rather than hinder conversions, as we already discussed in the context of connected experiences in part one of this series.
In the past couple of years, consumers have gotten particularly used to seamless, high-level ecommerce experiences, expecting the ability of instant purchase on every kind of channel and device.
Or, as is also quite often the case, they will first check out a product on one device, then make a purchase later on a different one, potentially after already having added the desired product to the shopping cart, and a completely disjointed experience might ultimately result in them never proceeding to checkout.
Out of all the new and emerging channels, mobile has come out as the dominant one. As such, it needs to be highlighted separately, as there are many different elements and considerations to it.
a) Native mobile application: if you’re developing a mobile app, you’ll most likely have to design standalone apps for both iOS and Android. This is due both to the specificity of both platforms as well as the UI habits that their respective users have gotten accustomed to.
b) PWA / progressive web application: if you want app-like functionality but don’t have the resources to develop separate apps for iOS and Android, you may want to consider building a progressive web app, which functions similarly to a native app but doesn’t require as much customization to develop, at the expense of more complex functionality.
c) Responsive design: considering you’re not developing a mobile app or a progressive web app, the bare minimum of what you need to do is optimize your web experiences for mobile browsing. The best way to go about it is responsive design, which ensures a consistent experience when viewed in a mobile environment and when switching between portrait and landscape mode.
d) Mobile-first: taking responsive design a step further, you can adopt a mobile-first approach to design, where you design experiences with mobile top of mind and then retroactively adapt the design for the other channels, as opposed to the traditional vice-versa approach.
e) Privacy & security: there are extra considerations here due to increased mobile usage and possibility of fraud. With more usage and more data, there are more attempts at exploiting software vulnerabilities and users’ lack of understanding of data collection and usage. On top of that, a lot of people are purchasing through mobile now as opposed to before Covid, which makes it essential to ensure mobile payments are secure.
f) Additional accessibility considerations on top of the already essential usability considerations, such as designing for a smaller screen and/or point of interaction. Take a look at these accessibility tips to find out more.
In a business landscape where a single misstep can severely impact how your customers perceive your brand, consistency needs to be a cornerstone of well-designed, memorable experiences. This series highlighted the top reasons behind this and analyzed approaches and considerations for ensuring consistent experiences across the digital realm.
If, while reading this series, you’ve realized you need extra development capacity in order to provide consistent digital experiences, learn more about working with Agiledrop and don’t hesitate to reach out to us directly if you have any additional questions.