According to Janelle Estes, we should design for the experience, not the channel. Users engage with organizations across many channels – the web, email, mobile devices, kiosks, online chat, storefronts or service centers, and more.
“Users expect companies to provide a usable experience across all channels. Although you may think of various channels within your organization or company as separate or siloed, your users do not. They consider any interaction with you, regardless of channel, as part of the overall user experience. And they have high expectations.”
Janelle shares with us four elements of a usable cross-channel experience:
Consistent: Customers should be able to move from channel to channel without having to relearn how to complete activities. Consistency across elements from visual design to interactions to content helps users move between channels easily. On a banking site, for example, the continuity of the look and feel across the website, emails, mobile and tablet apps, and physical locations is key. Users should be able to know how to transfer money or check an account balance easily in any channel.
Seamless: It should be possible to complete a task across multiple channels, if desired. For example, if a user places an item in a shopping cart while logged into an ecommerce site on a mobile device, that same item should be in the cart when they access the site from a laptop.
Available: Users should be able to complete desired activities regardless of the channel. For example, checking into a flight should be available on the web, a mobile application, the airport kiosk, and with an agent at the airport terminal.
Context Specific: The experience should be optimized for the channel. For example, mobile applications should integrate location-specific details–such as the current weather, nearby coupons or discounts, or the distance to stores or physical locations, based on the user’s current location.