User experience is a two-way street

Technology is no longer a one-way street. As it matures beyond a luxury for most people, consumer expectations tend to grow and many are searching for a more interactive user experience (UX), Fast Company reports.

Technology is no longer a one-way street. As it matures beyond a luxury for most people, consumer expectations tend to grow and many are searching for a more interactive user experience (UX), Fast Company reports.

Brands must utilize today's biggest technological trends - such as mobile, geolocation, social media and real time - to create a two-way conversation between user and company. Oftentimes, the relationship companies facilitate with customers through these mediums are "woefully onesided," the media outlet notes, which hurts customer satisfaction and loyalty.

"Without thoughtful user experience (UX), consumers meander without direction, reward, or utility," the media outlet explains. "And their attention, and ultimately loyalty, follows. "

Simply being present on "trendy" channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, foursquare or Pinterest is not enough to engage users. Companies are "designing for the sake of designing" without the customer experience in mind.

For example, a QR code on a webpage that isn't optimized for mobile devices (where it would be utilized most effectively) leaves users disenchanted and unlikely to return to that site in the future.

"The primary function of UX is the development of an architecture that creates a delightful, emotional, and sensory experience," the media outlet states. "UX is, among many things, designed to be experiential, affective, useful, productive, and entertaining. And, most importantly, it’s devised with an end in mind where the means to that end is efficient and optimized for each channel."

One channel where two-way engagement is essential for loyalty is Twitter. According to the blog for technology expert Peter G. McDermott, social media posts tend to have very short lifespans, and if a company doesn't respond to a request, issue or inquiry within that tiny window (usually minutes), it risks disengaging its audience.

He adds that if a business posts a new product and its paying customers ask questions about it - such as benefits, costs, differences from a previous product - it's now expected that there's a real human on the other end with an answer. Automating this process or ignoring it altogether isn't using the social platform to its fullest potential.

Fast Company's design blog points to a standout app from this year's Interaction Awards that enhances UX. ReadyForZero, an online financial program designed to help people eliminate debt, creates a personalized experience that, according to Award juror Younghee Jung, allows users to feel "important" and "loved."