Maintaining a profitable online business can be attributed to establishing a successful balance between art and science. The “art” side is about recognizing the importance of experience and personal impression, while the “science” focuses on the bottom line and maximizing ROI. These two basic principles can function together to create a harmonious balance that propels online businesses into the highest levels of success.
37Signals attributes the basis of their company’s growth to their development and execution of the user’s experience. They’ve embraced a “less is more” philosophy to deliver a clean and thoughtful user experience.
Behind their carefully crafted experience lies the science, that helps assist the sale. 37signals is an iconic example of a web company whose success is a direct result of their ability to perfectly integrate the best and smartest technology with a user experience that caters to their audience. Therein lies the genius of their business; their ability to establish a common language between the art and science, creating a meaningful user experience that actually converts leads to sales.
Companies that don’t account for the user’s experience, or that place all of their priority on defining metrics and sales, will fail to deliver the total package. These companies inherently have to work much harder to market and sell their product/service; relying heavily on sales tactics instead of on improving and refining their experience. If customers don’t form that necessary relationship, it will be harder to close a deal because trust hasn’t been built and a lack of trust means a harder sale.
Quick — name one of your favorite restaurants. In your eyes, what makes that restaurant so great? I bet many of the elements you mentioned correlate with the experience and not the transaction. People don’t go to restaurants to make transactions; they go for the experience and when that experience is a positive one they are more inclined to go back. Too often, online businesses fail to recognize that these fundamental elements play a significant role in driving consumer popularity and revenue, even in online markets. At the end of the day, a positive experience, with the right customer, will result in higher profits.
The user’s experience however isn’t enough and needs to transcend into the user’s interface. The user interface is an important extension of the user’s experience; it’s the creation of platforms and applications that will be used by the customer, representing an important variable within the experience. Great user interface design always involves a strategic balance of art and science– the “art” relating to the overall aesthetic and tone of the website, and the “science” appealing to the form and function of that website and it’s ability to convert leads to sales.
Apple has done a great job designing an online user interface via their website that’s the perfect compliment to the user’s experience. The Apple website delivers a quality design that’s sleek and simple. This simplified approach has enabled Apple to blossom into a technology leader. Again, striking that ever important balance between art and science.
When customers enter the Apple website, it’s extremely easy for them to find whatever it is they are looking for. The purchasing process is hassle-free and the entire operation is streamlined. It’s easy to be blown away by the delightful images and stylish back-drop, but if you look closely at the website the science is also present. It aids the navigation and helps easily define the ordering process.
In user interface design the science supports the art. If you choose to ignore one or the other completely you will lack the key components that will differentiate your user’s experience and user interface from the competion. Designing a website is more than a slew of pretty images and graphics, it’s about helping customers navigate their way through the purchasing process to transform leads to sales. The artistic component of the website is the engaging feature, but if you forget the science and necessary function, the goal of customer acquisition will easily get lost.
It’s time for you to find your balance between art and science.