David Lachowicz is an award-winning graphic designer with over 13 years of experience in identity, interactive and brand development. He is currently a creative director at DMi Partners, overseeing brand, creative and front-end development. David is passionate about user experience, the key ingredient for business success in today’s digital world.
Understanding customers’ needs and exceeding their expectations has become the key to earning consumer trust and loyalty, a Salesforce research showed.
Interestingly, about 57% of customers would rather engage with brands through digital channels, while 53% would purchase online versus in store.
With websites being one of the biggest selling machines, it is more important than ever to deliver consumers’ expectations on this platform. Brands should ensure they provide meaningful and relevant experiences to their visitors. Especially since 88% are less likely to return to a site with bad UX.
DMi Partners is a digital company that pays deep attention to UX to help its clients offer customized experiences and drive online success.
We spoke with DMi Partners’ Creative Director David Lachowicz to talk about how businesses can adapt to modern users’ expectations, ensure a stellar user experience and what the future is like for UX.
Spotlight: We live in a digital world where people don’t just buy products and services, they also look forward to the experience. How has the modern user’s expectation changed and how can brands adapt to the shift?
David Lachowicz: Short answer, personalization and memorability.
Long answer: Users expect personalization at this point in almost any experience that reasonably calls for it. If we're shopping we want to know what else we might like, sure. If we're being marketed to on adverised on social media, we know that brand is in front of us because that brand thinks we fit the profile that will like that brand.
If we're streaming music, we want to know what other songs we might dig, based on what other people with similar tastes have been listening to. We expect the same from movies and shows. Any way we can personalize an experience to the user creates a connection that brings you a little closer to that person.
The other aspect that I mentioned is memorability. This can take many forms, but it's important for it to exist. This can be a particular niche or a super unique product. It might be the brand personality, or it can be the actual experience itself. I've never been to the convenience store/rest-stop chain, Buc-ee's, but I've damn sure heard about it.
The place is so ridiculously big and has such a wide selection that it's evidently an experience in itself. To add to that, they are known for their over-the-top customer service and promise of an incredibly clean bathroom. This is all topped off with a giant cartoon beaver logo that you cannot forget after seeing it. Again — I've never been there — but the place is so memorable that I've had it described to me as if it was a small wondrous theme park for the weary traveler. The more memorable your brand is, the more reason people have to both talk about it and come back to it.
What steps should businesses take to ensure a stellar user experience?
Putting themselves in the user's shoes while working, then testing to ensure your assumptions were accurate and adapting when they're not.
Can you walk us through a recent project where DMi Partners combined interactive design and user experience strategies? What results did you achieve?
Honestly, I'm not really sure how to answer this one. We look at them all kind of similarly. If someone is interacting with something, it's an experience in some way, shape or form, and we need to make sure it's as good as it can be. We like to look at "interactive design" as a brand and UX in concert with one another, and it's how we approach every digital project – app/site/whatever.
As far as success goes, all of our sites convert well, but probably Rastellis.com has the biggest success as that UX can be found in no other spot on the internet, and we made a complicated process feel pretty easy. We built the brand from scratch — including the logo that won some ADDYs — and then applied that brand to a UX that enabled users to create the most customized online recurring meat order the internet has available.
DMi Partners always puts the client first but also highlights collaboration, as evidenced by your “You are the Hero in our Story” approach. How does this strategy help drive success to your clients?
So long story short, that strategy means that we acknowledge that we are not the experts in your business. Someone here might become one over time, but no one's going to be off the bat, nor should we be. We're the experts in brand/marketing/UX/, etc. The client is the expert in their business. So we start with that idea, learn as much as we can from the client, and then define clear goals that focus on elevating that brand to hit company goals/metrics.
The client's company is the hero in our strategy, and the client ends up looking like the hero internally. Cute, right? But it's actually working. We had a metric we were going to track — client promotions. We figure if we're killing it and making them look like the hero, there should be some promotions, right? I don't remember the goal for the year but it was hit in two or three months by a mile, so we just bailed on the whole thing altogether.
Speaking of clients, DMi Partners has been helping brands such as CNN, Colgate and USA TODAY navigate the digital landscape for 18 years now. What’s the secret to landing and keeping such big name partners?
100% our people. We actually started (before my time) as a performance marketing agency. So from the beginning, we've treated our clients as true partners. At the time, I'm sure part of it was because we didn't do well unless the client did so they were super invested, but it's also because our CEO has put good relationships first from day one and is genuinely one of the nicer/kinder/more caring human beings you'll meet in life. That kind of vibe spreads pretty easily.
The performance marketing version of DMi is long gone, but we've stayed true to that philosophy. We are very competitive as a group — not in a stressful way, but still — so I think everyone genuinely feels crappy if a client doesn't do well, and is collectively pulling toward the same goal for that reason.
Clients at this level also appreciate honesty, and we'll tell them if we think an idea or strategy is going to hurt them, or if we don't like it for another strategic reason. Or sometimes it's just a bad idea, right? We're not afraid to push back but it's always in their best interest. Our solid relationships enable us to do that comfortably, with trust, and luckily those two things combined make clients stick around for a really long time.
Lastly, what would you say is the future of UX and what would be the next big thing in interactive design?
I'm sure you guys want some metaverse answer or something, but no one knows, honestly. I think the future of UX will be dictated by the user. And while that sounds like a cop-out, what I mean is the people that succeed in UX, in whatever this world's future version of UX looks like, will be the people that put users first in their design and strategy.
By "putting the user first," I mean putting yourself in the user's shoes and approaching your strategy with what you as a user would want from the experience. Then battle-testing the strategy you've developed against real people. If we do this, no matter the medium, the future of UX will be memorable experiences that people want to come back to. I know... that still feels like a cop-out, doesn't it?
Thank you for your time, David Lachowicz! Best of luck to you and DMi Partners!