The Official OpenRoad Blog

IF/THEN

Imagineering the Omni-Channel Experience

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At the start of 2014, we called cross channel experiences a major trend to watch. While cross channel remains important, we are seeing an evolution to omni-channel experiences. Omni-channel focuses on creating a consistent experience across all customer touch-points, where cross-channel is often limited to only a portion of the experience. Disney is a great example of the “magic” that happens when a true omni-channel experience is delivered.

Historical Limitations of Cross-channel

One cross-channel strategy may focus only on the digital channel. It ensures the digital experience works across all browser and operating system platforms, various screen sizes, and device types. While this is a worthy effort, it leaves out all of the other channels a customer may come in contact with such as in-store and call centres. Another cross-channel strategy tries to ensure a consistent experience via branding and information provided across all physical and digital touch points. Again a worthy and important effort, but still short of a truly omni-channel experience.

Omni-channel

Omni-channel concentrates on delivering seamless experiences through all available touch points with a product or service via mobile internet devices, computers, brick-and-mortar locations, television, radio, direct mail, catalog and so on. Customers expect every interaction with a brand to be integrated through their journey of discovery, research, purchase and support. Planning and executing an omni-channel strategy is a way to meet or exceed customer expectations.

Omni-channel experiences strive to seamlessly weave digital and physical touch points together across all channels, allowing customers to achieve their goals whenever and however best suits them. Omni-channel experiences are frictionless in that they can start on one device or channel and be quickly and easily completed on another channel or device without having to start over or backtrack. Omni-channel strategies strive to enhance physical channels with digital augmentation and ensure digital experiences have appropriate physical analogues so no digital divides exist and so customers can operate in their channel of choice.

Disney’s Omni-Channel User Experience

Disney's website at desktop, tablet and mobile phone sizes

Disney’s website at desktop, tablet and mobile phone sizes

Lets look at how Disney is delivering omni-channel experiences for visitors to Walt Disney World. The experience typically starts at disney.com, a responsive website that works across device types: computer, tablet and smartphone. Even their trip planning site is optimized for the mobile device.

Once a trip is booked to Walt Disney World Florida, guests can use My Disney Experience to book in-park dining reservations and plan FastPass experiences. FastPass allows park guests to skip lines for three attractions per day. Using the My Disney Experience smartphone app in the park, guests can check and change their FastPass choices and check other attraction wait times while on the go.

These innovations make for fun trip planning and theme park experiences, but Disney is truly forging new omni-channel experiences with their MagicBand program. The MagicBand is a wristband embedded with short-range RFID and long range Bluetooth technologies. It’s an opt-in system so guests control how much personal information they share with the park. The more information guests share, the more customized theme park experience they receive. For example, in Disney resort hotels, MagicBands are used as room keys. Just tapping your wristband unlocks the door. Guests can also order food with their wristbands at Disney restaurants and food carts.

MagicBand RFID wristbands

MagicBand RFID wristbands

MagicBands also integrate with FastPass and PhotoPass systems. Once set up, you can walk to the front of an attraction line, tap your wrist, and on you go. If your picture is taken with a Disney character by a park photographer, they will scan your MagicBand and your photos will be available online for purchase later. The old PhotoPass system for purchasing photos online involved manual data entry by the user, whereas the new experience is virtually seamless.

The park experience feels “frictionless” with the use of MagicBands, My Experience apps and FastPass. The best parts of the Disney park experience are made better via subtle digital enhancement. There is something magical about skipping to the front of the line to have your child’s picture taken with a beloved Disney character and then conveniently ordering the photos online later.

This is both an example of an existing omni-channel experience, as well as the current high water mark for experiences that move between the physical and digital.

MagicBand integration with Disney's PhotoPass system

MagicBand integration with Disney’s PhotoPass system

Summary

When relentlessly focusing on the quality of the experience you are delivering, you have to look at all of your customer touch points to deliver seamless experiences choreographed between all channels, physical and digital.

The first step to creating omni-channel experiences is to create a strong strategy focused on customer needs. This is accomplished through research, culminating in a Customer Journey Map. A journey map depicts the step-by-step interactions a user has through all of the touch points with your product or service. Once completed, this design artifact helps key decision makers identify opportunities for improvement or differentiation that can help drive the strategy.

Once identified, opportunities can be worked out through storyboarding and refined via service or experience prototypes; these prototyping methods involve users in simulations so the end experience can be evaluated and modified if necessary before actually launching the enhancements. Simulations can be done in a lab-like environment but it is strongly encouraged to do a limited live run to verify what impact external factors not possible to verify in the laboratory have on user perception and experience. This was the approach taken by Disney with their MagicBands: look at the customer journey; identify pain points and opportunities; design, test and iterate.

OpenRoad's Trevor Allen and his family gave MagicBands a spin

OpenRoad’s Trevor Allen and his family gave MagicBands a spin

BC Hydro

Best-of-Both-Worlds Mobile Experience

BC Hydro is a provincial Crown corporation with a mandate to generate, purchase, distribute and sell electricity.

About the Project

With the increasing trend in mobile usage, the experience for BC Hydro customers on small screen devices is very important to the company. Although they had a specialized mobile site, a review of their analytics found that many mobile visitors were clicking through to the full desktop site. This indicated the mobile site was not fully servicing their needs. It was time to redefine the mobile strategy. OpenRoad’s User Experience (UX) team was engaged to provide a solution that helps BC Hydro customers find the information they are looking for on mobile quickly and easily.

The Small Screen Challenge

The main BC Hydro website has a lot of content – over 2000 pages in total. When translating large content-rich sites into mobile experiences, the design team is faced with two challenges. First, which content do you prioritize for viewing? Second, how do you make that content accessible on a small touch interface? With a minimal amount of screen space and clumsy thumbs, the mobile site must be designed to be both useful and usable.

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Initial Interaction Design Concepts

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Battlefield 4

Multi-Channel Engagement. One Log-in.

For video gaming giant Electronic Arts, the launch of a new title like Battlefield 4 impacts over 20 million players worldwide. Creating promotional campaigns that reach that massive audience and integrate with their platform of choice isn’t just as simple as covering desktop, mobile, and tablet preferences – it also extends to the xBox gaming platform and gaming user profiles.ea-bf4-slimjim

It’s obvious in today’s digital landscape that consumers want an easy and seamless way to log-in across multiple devices. But, how do brands measure the impact of the multi-channel and multi-phase campaigns?

EA teamed up with Axe Body Spray (a product of Unilever) and Slim Jim (a product of ConAgra), to promote the launch of their large-scale warfare game Battlefield 4. OpenRoad helped EA not only connect their main EA gamer profile system to the promotions sites, but also helped measure the promotions across campaign phases and devices. (more…)

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Emily Carr’s Big Idea Gala: Supporting the Future of Design in BC

Congratulations to Emily Carr University of Art and Design on their launch of The Big Idea capital campaign!

The campaign aims to raise the $25 million needed for the construction of a new, state-of-the-art Emily Carr University campus at Great Northern Way. Creativity is a vital resource to the British Columbia economy, and Emily Carr University hopes that the new campus will become part of the province’s economic, social, cultural, and educational engine.

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From left to right: Wil Arndt, Creative Director; Darren Gibbons, President; Gordon Ross, Vice President

As supporters of BC’s design community, we were honoured to attend and sponsor their Red Carpet Gala to kick off the campaign. The high-profile evening included red carpet photos, an opportunity to learn more about the project, yum-mazing oysters, and a sneak peek of the freshest art and design projects at The Show (Emily Carr’s annual grad celebration).

Our Creative Director, Wil Arndt—an Emily Carr University graduate, former design program teacher, and current alumni board member—says, “The creative industry is flourishing in Vancouver thanks to institutions like Emily Carr. As usual, I was impressed with the high levels of sophistication and insight at the design show this year. These students are bringing innovation, creative thinking, and determination to some big design problems.”

Congrats to Emily Carr University and a shout out to Reliance Properties for donating a generous $7 million to kick off the campaign. We encourage you to get involved by donating to their FundRazr Campaign (donations start as low as $5).

Julie Robinson

As the Office Manager of OpenRoad, Julie Robinson gets to wear many hats (hard hat, birthday party, and Santa’s elf to name a few). The role requires being able to deftly shift gears throughout the day. Administrative duties, weekly reporting, bookkeeping, coordination of staff events, and managing employee contracts are a few of the responsibilities that Julie has her fingerprints on. Julie will always welcome you to the OpenRoad office with a big smile and she has a contagious laugh that can be heard throughout the office.

Prior to OpenRoad, Julie leveraged her education from Capilano University and UBC to work in the public and private sectors in various positions including Office Supervisor, Sales Team Administrator, Human Resources Coordinator and as a Guest Relations Manager.

Away from the office, Julie spends her time by maintaining a regular yoga practice and going on her favourite hikes.

Julie Robinson's Full Profile

Robin Percy

Robin is a full-stack developer with experience in Java / Spring, Groovy / Grails, Python / Django, and Node.js. Beyond being a highly proficient and experienced software developer, Robin adds significant value to projects through his teamwork and communication skills. He is an expert at collaborating with projects teams to flawlessly executive and continuously improve team processes. Clients really appreciate Robin’s ability to communicate complex technical ideas in an easy-to-understand way that relates to their business goals and objectives.

Robin started his career in the DSL and cable industries, developing real-time provisioning and diagnostics software for ISPs that serve over a million subscribers.  Most recently, he has worked with Vancouver-area startups in building platforms to rapidly bring mobile and web-based products to market.

Robin has a Bachelors Degree in Computer Information Systems from the University of the Fraser Valley. When not in front of a computer you can find Robin in the gym or cycling.

Robin Percy's Full Profile

Justin Johnson

As a Senior Software Developer at OpenRoad, Justin’s extensive technology career has ranged from Perl, through Java and vbScript, to PHP and Python and the major frameworks and databases to go with each.  The renewed emphasis on JavaScript makes it feel like 1998 again, but the addition of Node, single-page-app frameworks, and asynchronous coding models offers new directions in a career based on continuous learning.  Justin has also lived on the other side of the divide, both managing development and serving as CTO of a technology startup, giving him a 360 degree perspective on delivering solutions.

Justin’s degrees are in printmaking, drawing and philosophy. Like most of his fellow graduates, this led to a career in web development. He continues his interest in art through classes in figure drawing at local galleries, and handling the face painting at the company picnic.

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Filling in User Experience Potholes: Connecting Applications for a Smoother Experience

We’ve all seen it. We’ve watched as user research participants struggle through what should be a simple task. We’ve witnessed them work across multiple off-the-shelf applications, each with their own idiosyncrasies and learning curves. The sum of these disjointed experiences are like driving over a paved, prairie road after the winter thaw: bumpy, unforgiving, and frustrating. But, each pothole is actually an incredible opportunity to address serious user experience challenges within organizations that purchase 3rd party software applications.

Companies will often work with multiple vendors to assist with various parts of their business. There are obvious cost savings rationale associated with purchasing an off-the-shelf product as opposed to developing software in-house. Some examples of this are: purchasing accounting software to track expense claims and purchasing issue-tracking software to organize the triage and resolution of calls to the call centre.

The unfortunate side effect of this is that their employees will now have to deal with several user interfaces throughout their day, each with varying level of usability, each possibly with a different login. This can lead to a very frustrating experience for users when you take into account each user’s unique needs and that each product is usually not designed with the other applications in mind. Over the years I’ve seen the full spectrum of experiences that accompany using 3rd party applications to assist with critical business processes. Some of these applications are just plain painful, some are a pleasure to work with, and some are merely ok  — they get the job done with relatively few headaches and grey hairs. However, “3rd Party Software” doesn’t have to be a dirty phrase. With thoughtful attention to the user’s experience across applications, we can design solutions to fill in those potholes, smoothing out the user’s experience along the way.

Can’t We Just All Get Along?

I recently listened to James Robertson (@s2d_jamesr) give a talk at VanUE on Designing Behind the Firewall, where he showed many different applications of beautifully designed intranets for many enterprise clients. (more…)

BC Dairy Digital Strategy & Website

Guiding a forward-thinking organization through digital transformation.

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BC Dairy Association is a non-profit dedicated to increasing the consumption of milk in BC and delivering innovative nutrition education programs.

The Problem

In 2011, the BC Dairy Foundation and the BC Milk Producers Association merged to become the BC Dairy Association. The merger posed some challenges from a digital implementation perspective. The two organizations each maintained rich websites and digital channels with vastly different audiences—nearly 20 audience segments were identified, ranging from school children to dairy professionals. The merger created a new organization that suddenly had a stable of over 45 digital properties to manage. The communications team at BC Dairy Association, made up of handful of subject and marketing experts, were already quite busy, so they needed help to both help manage the transition and develop a strategic plan for the future. (more…)

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Law Society of BC

Community-driven learning through technology.

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The Law Society of British Columbia regulates more than 10,000 lawyers in the province of British Columbia, setting and enforcing standards of professional conduct. Their Online Learning Centre offers courses in professional development for their members, helping to ensure that the public is served by honourable and competent practitioners.

The Problem

The Online Learning Centre had initially been built in 2007 using an off-the-shelf Learning Management System (LMS). The LMS chosen had worked well for a time, but eventually fell behind as technology, user expectations, and the vision of the organization progressed. The system was inflexible, users were having a hard time finding content and even completing courses, and the number of help-desk calls were growing to an unacceptable level. (more…)

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