We’ve worked extensively in the world of digital products, but that term can sometimes be a bit nebulous — in this tech-centric world we live in, the line can blur. Generally, a digital product is any software-enabled product, like an app, e-commerce site, software or service that provides value to its users. But while those examples are helpful, the most critical part of that definition is the end: providing value to its users.
That takes us to the crucial question: is your website really a website, or is it a digital product? In the old world of websites, your site was basically a glorified marketing pamphlet, complete with mission, vision, about, team, and maybe a few other “sneak peeks” into your company.
But websites today are so much more than that — they have rich functionality, logins and passwords, online ordering, communication services, booking, and so much more. If your website is just a marketing fly-by of who you are and what you do, then it is a website. But if people are coming to your site to perform an action and derive value, then I have news for you: Your website is actually a digital product.
So, what does this mean for that upcoming website refresh?
First of all, kudos to you for refreshing your site: there is nothing more off-putting to a prospect than a site that hasn’t changed since *NSYNC was topping the charts. But making the distinction between a marketing site and a digital product has implications all the way from strategy and design to launch and marketing. And the distinction is important early, since you have to know who to partner with: marketing or product.
Making the distinction between a marketing site and a digital product has implications all the way from strategy and design to launch and marketing.
Marketing partners will be primarily concerned with catching eyes, telling stories, and driving sales. On the other hand, product partners will focus on the user and their experience while interacting with your product. Asking a marketing designer with no background in UX to design your comprehensive site would be like asking an interior designer to plan and design the layout for an entire hospital.
This is where you see the importance of knowing what you’re building: If the goal of your site is just to explain what you do and give an inside look into the company, marketing partners will have that strength. But if your users are repeatedly coming to your site to accomplish something or achieve a goal, this is where user-focused thinking is critical. You’ll have a site that solves real problems, which will retain customers and make your product more “sticky,” and that converts more sales.
The term “design” has become a catch-all term for someone in charge of deciding what something looks like. But in this age of competition and high customer expectations, generalist designers just won’t cut it. If you have a site with interactive capabilities, a UX designer will help you optimize that experience to keep customers coming back. They’ll develop a deep understanding of their pains, motivations, and objectives, and fine-tune the user journey so their needs are met.
The days of traditional marketing sites have come and gone, and interactive, “digital product” sites have become commonplace regardless of industry. If you’re looking to refresh your site and want to create an experience that delights your customers and keeps them coming back, make sure you hire the right team for the job.