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Disney World is more successful than its predecessors like Dreamland and Cedar Point because it was one of the first parks designed with an immersive experience in mind.

Disney World's Imagineers understood that the experience of being at a park – the waits, shops, walks and lodging – is just as important as the attractions themselves. 

If this is true of amusement parks, could it be true of your business?

Your digital experience design can be the difference between a platform customers enjoy using or a platform they tolerate. When customers enjoy their experience, it provides greater value to them and better returns to you. Digital experience design has the power to improve your products and transform your business, and digital experience platforms like Optimizely are the key to unlocking your digital potential.

Key takeaways:

  • Digital experience design is a perpetual process and an ongoing investment
  • Designing with your user in mind is good for your users and your business alike
  • Optimizely's digital experience platform can revolutionize your design process

What is digital experience design?

Digital Experience, or DX, is the category of user experience that encompasses all the interactions customers have with your digital platform. This includes your e-commerce page, blog, ads, emails, apps and any other digital interactions your customers have with your business.

Digital business has been growing in popularity for decades, but especially post-COVID, more customers are experiencing your business as digital-first. As Forbes puts it, "The days of considering digital as an 'add-on' is over – welcome to a brave new world of digital-first interactions." With digital experience management's new prominence, improving your digital experience design is a critical discipline for modern businesses.


Track user experiences

The most important element of your digital experience design is tracking user experiences. User experience tracking gives you the feedback you need to improve and evolve your platform. Digital experience monitoring encompasses several different kinds of tracking, such as Application Performance Monitoring (APM), End User Experience Monitoring (EUEM) and Real User Monitoring (RUM).

Digital experience monitoring can help you identify pain points for your users, perform A/B testing and even recognize frustration by tracking rage clicks. This data gives you insight into the actual experiences your users have with your platform, as well as the experiences your users expect to have with your platform.

Aesthetic usability effect

The Aesthetic Useability Effect describes the phenomenon of users perceiving an interface to be more useable when it's aesthetically pleasing.

What does this mean for your digital experience design? It means that no matter how well your platform functions, users will perceive it as less functional if it isn't aesthetically pleasing. Usability is an important part of your platform, but the aesthetic user experience is just as important.

A professionally-designed, consistent digital experience (one that uses the principles laid out in this guide) is the key to an aesthetically pleasing digital interface.

Visual hierarchy

If you've ever opened a Where's Waldo book, you're familiar with visual hierarchy and the consequences of its absence.

Visual hierarchy is a way of drawing the user's attention to the element of your digital experience you want them to see. A key discipline of visual hierarchy is contrast: the elements of your design that you want to attract attention should stand out.

There are several ways that elements of your interface can contrast with each other, such as size, color, spacing and value. You can create a digital experience that's intuitive, efficient and effective by being deliberate with your visual hierarchy.

diagram, application

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Serial position effect

The Beatle's album Let It Be has over 4 million sales. Can you remember the complete lyrics to the title track?

How about just the first line ("When I find myself in times of trouble…") and the final line ("Whisper words of wisdom, let it be")?

Chances are, you remember the first and last lines of the song, even if you couldn't remember the full lyrics, and among other factors, you can thank the serial position effect for that. The serial position effect describes people's tendency to remember the first and last items in a series more than they remember items in the middle.

These two most memorable items fall under the rules of primacy and recency. Primacy describes the first item in a series, while recency describes the most recently-perceived item, typically the last on the list. These rules apply to grocery lists, television shows, and – most importantly – to your digital experience design. You can put the serial position effect to great use by positioning items you want to be memorable at the beginning and end of your customer's digital experience.

Gestalt principles

To harness the power of human perception, the Gestalt Principles (named after the German word for "form") describe the psychology of design, the way humans perceive relationships between design elements, and how that interpretation influences thought.

While the number of principles varies from approach to approach, the 10 most commonly referenced Gestalt Principles are:

  • Connectedness
  • Common Region
  • Figure and Ground
  • Symmetry
  • Focal Point
  • Similarity
  • Closure
  • Continuity
  • Proximity
  • Common Fate

By understanding and utilizing these principles, you can use the power of human psychology to provide the best possible digital experience for your users.


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Customer empathy

Remember that your digital experience cannot exist unless a user can experience it. A good digital experience is good for your customers and your organization, so designing with the user in mind is an essential component of improving your product.

1. Designed for users

What are your users' needs? How can you meet them? The best way to design an effective digital experience is to understand what makes your platform valuable to your users. Before sacrificing useability for function, consider what your users want to get out of your platform. 

2. Accessibility

Regulatory compliance aside, accessibility is an important design principle because it meets the needs of your users. There are many ways to design your digital experience with accessibility in mind.

  • Use alt-text for images
  • Don't use color to communicate essential information
  • Provide alternatives to click-and-drag UX
  • Contrast text and background
  • Design with resizable text in mind

3. Personalization

One of the frontiers of content management is the personalized digital experience. With first-party cookies, marketing automation, AI-based content delivery and other personalization techniques, you can tailor digital experiences to your users. You can personalize your users' experiences at the level of market segment, all the way down to individual unique users.

Use a digital experience platform

These seven design principles are only the tip of the iceberg. Managing your users' digital experiences requires innovation, acumen and evolution. In other words, digital experience design isn't something you can "set and forget." It's an ongoing investment.

That's where digital experience platforms enter the picture. Optimizely is a digital experience platform that can take the guesswork and uncertainty out of your digital experience design process.

If you're ready to take your digital experiences to the next level, get started with Optimizely and see how they can revolutionize your digital platform today.