Marketers simply can’t plan and express their creativity in a marketing approach, message, and visuals anymore without taking into account the technology obstacles, dangers, minefields, and surprises just waiting to derail their carefully conceived strategy. In fact, it’s not really a strategy these days without addressing the technology execution that can make or break the intended experience. Technology planning has to be every bit as creative as the storytelling if it is to address the myriad issues that arise in environments, devices, browsers, user settings, data, and connectivity. Without that forethought and collaboration, the message can easily be missed, corrupted, or watered down.
To avoid a big, fat, technology #fail in your carefully conceived digital campaign or property, make sure you involve your tech experts in the planning. Sample situations like the ones detailed below showcase how technology can contribute to an elevated experience or help avoid a digital disaster.
Guarding the Audience Experience
As your tech team is defining the UX/IA, they can tap into how users experience the current site and use this information to build a more tailored experience that fits user needs and preferences. Ask your tech team whether older browser versions may too severely limit your creative options, then consider building the main product to work for most users but produce a scaled-back experience for older versions and browsers. Be sure to detect when older browsers are in play and ask users to upgrade their browser to get the full experience.
Ensuring Mobile Functionality
The rise of mobile traffic has changed the technology options for online experiences and encouraged creators to use responsive sites and apps that have to deliver a good experience across platforms and under varying circumstances. Not an easy task. Many rich online experiences incorporate animated elements, which are fun and engaging but difficult to execute well across platforms and devices. While Flash produces smooth motion, it is not compatible on many mobile devices, so many turn to HTML5 and other technologies for the final build, often using Flash to define the animation and create the initial motion. Still, depending on computer hardware, Internet connection, and the amount of user interaction, some HTML5 motion can look choppy. To avoid that result your tech team will act as counterpoint to your creative team to make sure that all the animation is really needed and adds to the user experience. The team can then scale back if needed to preserve a quality experience. Leave lots of time before launch to test everything across devices and platforms and to ensure that you have the right functionality for your intended users.
Building a Secure Backend and Integrating APIs
Data feeds, content feeds, analytics packages, and snippets that support enhanced functionality are routinely placed into a page or app to enhance the user experience or provide key information but can also break or hang or function in non-optimal or unintended ways if not integrated expertly. Make sure you are confident of your data security and that of your partners. Even if you are not passing secure information, look for concerning reviews on potential partners or data suppliers, down-time stats, or other issues that may insert themselves into your user experience in a negative way, then test that the APIs work under all anticipated circumstances. Make sure your partners are financially sound and will be around to continue to support your needs.
Enhancing Sharing Options
Social sharing has the capacity to extend a campaign’s value and can make or break your performance metrics. The mechanisms to facilitate social sharing can be simple or not so simple, ranging from a basic share widget to others that function like Google Inbox with an expandable icon. The advantage of the expandable approach is that you can facilitate sharing without having a bunch of icons in the user’s face at all the times. As an added benefit and with some additional coding, the share icon can also follow the user down the page to give them the ability to share anytime during the visit. Many scrolling sites present as a single page, so consider creating specific landing pages so that users are able to share the exact experience that they are in and not a general landing page.
Hosting With Confidence
What works in your production environment and in QA for your small team may not function at all on the host server or under the stress of thousands of concurrent users. Give your knowledgeable tech teams the budget and leeway to find the right home for your digital creations.
Lots of Coding Later…
Even with the best of planning, technology issues will throw obstacles at your digital efforts that require creativity and problem solving skills to resolve. Help your creative technologists to save the day by providing them with a clear strategic brief, enough time to resolve the inevitable challenges that will emerge, and with the trust to make hard choices to preserve the project intentions even as the original concept may morph.
My special thanks to the technology and creative teams at Netplus for all the heroics they regularly employ to make our strategic efforts look effortless!
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