Commentary

Elevating The User Experience To The Next Level With Digital Products That Delight

  • by August 6, 2007
Amidst the scores of sites, applications, technologies and acquisitions that cross-dominate the news these days, it's very exciting when something tangible that actually "walks the walk" instead of just "talking the talk" comes to market and creates something truly transformational for consumers. Like TiVo. The Xbox. And The iPod.

As advertising practitioners, we observe, project, and then rush to figure out some immediate way to insert ourselves into the platform without taking the time to determine whether we're even welcome, wanted or wasting time there -- as many advertisers are finding out in places like Second Life.

But the recent introduction of Apple's iPhone once again demonstrates that digital experiences that truly delight the consumer and elevate user experiences to the next level not only advance consumer relationships, but actually create cultural movements the likes of which no ad campaign has ever achieved. And it doesn't start with a new tagline; it starts with product innovation and design that's grounded in delivering delightful user experience.

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Now I can't speak for the whole AT&T wireless side of the iPhone user experience, which I have heard anecdotally was miserable for many. But for myself, Apple once again proved that it knew EXACTLY what I desired from the moment I got my iPhone out of the box -- instant gratification! After being a T-mobile customer for the past 7 years, I found the iTunes switchover courtesy of my MacBook was an absolute breeze. Five simple steps from plug-in and I was completely switched over.

Then the fun began: instant importing of everything from my email to contacts to music to photos to videos -- everything formerly living on my video iPod (up to 8 gigs of course). And the user interface? Well, let's just say the best of your rational needs come to life in a totally emotional way - from the main UI home screen iconography and master functionality smartly displayed along the bottom, to the touchscreeen fluidity of the iTunes music cover art that left me feeling like I was in "Minority Report." And if that wasn't enough, the YouTube Channel icon displayed with equal relevance to all the remaining main screen features tells you that Apple truly UNDERSTANDS the behavior of today's digital consumer.

Sure, there's a few compromises, like the keyboard (which isn't as easy or fast as a BlackBerry's) and very lame ringtones (until Apple releases the ringtone editor for your iTunes library), but the only MAJOR compromise that let me down personally was that the iPhone, despite its beautifully designed form and emotionally satisfying user experience, DOESN'T READ FLASH when you go to the Internet. A major letdown when you consider the fact that you can get all the YouTube you want, but can't experience the baseline level of user experience that one gets online. A letdown to be sure, but as all-in-one devices go, clearly superior to anything I've ever carried.

I presume the answer will come in the form of a simple iPhone software upgrade courtesy of iTunes, but one never knows if Mr. Jobs will make us early adopters purchase the next model that does read Flash -- and of course comes in a variety of assorted colors.

I beg not.

Either way, what shines through Apple's iphone experience for us advertising folk is that great digital experiences only require a frequency of one to delight the consumer and keep both the brand's cultural currency high while migrating the consumer into yet another new product transaction. By a frequency of one I mean, the first impression hits you and you don't even need a second or a third. This is not about impressions -- it's all about engagement. In this case the all-in-one device is not just what delights -- it's the satisfying user interface that tells me Apple truly understands people.

As for the the company's decision to partner exclusively with AT&T, well, that's a different story in brand alignment. But for now, I think I'll just watch another video -- on my new phone.

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