Are you delivering on your UX brand promise?

20 Oct By Molly Hammar | October 20, 2014

I’m constantly making promises to my eight-year old son.

Here’s the scene: I’m cooking dinner and he asks, “Mom can we go to the library tomorrow after school?”

“Sure, honey,” I promise, without it actually registering that I just agreed to drive 30 minutes each way, debate the merits of every book he considers, get him home in time to do homework, and provide dinner at some point along the way. (Sorry clients, all I can promise you after 3:30 tomorrow is an awesome pegasus unicorn illustration.)



Businesses make user experience promises to their users every day: it’s the work that comes after the promise that’s the tough part.

Some say it outright and others imply a promise:


staples that was easyHome Depot Saving






Either way, businesses promise customers an experience that carries through every interaction with the business. While they may deliver on their promise with excellent customer service or low prices, if customers have to waste time and energy fumbling with a poorly designed website, the promise has been broken.

You might not even have a user experience brand promise. Many start-ups scramble to get something to market, with “if you build it, he will come” as their mantra. If and when the users show up, they aren’t clear about what to do or have a disappointing user experience.

Other companies make a user experience promise without putting in the effort needed to deliver on it. They promote their site as easy, and then stand by as users struggle.

When my son was little, he didn’t notice when I broke my promises. When I failed to take him to the library, he had already forgotten that he wanted to go there because he wanted to jump on the trampoline instead. But as he got older, he started remembering and holding me to my promises.

Unless your website targets toddlers, your users will eventually notice when you fail to deliver on your promises.

How do you design a site or app that makes good on your promise?

It starts before the wireframes and the coding. Talk with your customers or prospective customers. What does “easy” or “elegant” or “value” or “success” mean to them?

Clarify how the experience will feel to them if you truly deliver on your promise. Write user personas and usage scenarios to describe these experiences.

Here’s an example of the up-front work required to design a site that does for its users precisely what it set out to do. One of our clients, Concierge Auctions, hired us to redesign their user experience. They are creating a new luxury real estate model by connecting high-net-worth buyers and sellers in an auction process. When their old website didn’t reflect the caliber of service that high-net-worth individuals expect in their daily transactions, they invited us to be part of their team.

Their dilemma? Sellers didn’t want auctioning their luxury home to be perceived as a distressed sale. As both buyers and sellers navigated an unfamiliar process, they expected a tailored experience aligned with their luxury lifestyles. If the site, introducing a new way of doing business, didn’t live up to these expectations, the auction model could falter.

We spent hours talking with luxury property owners and with the real estate agents who represent them. We wrote personas describing buyers’ and sellers’ goals, pain points, and defined a vision for exceptional luxury real estate experiences. Only then could we give meaning to a brand promise for a customized the luxury experience. Finally, after months of working to understand the users’ expectation, we designed a site that delivers on the promise.

Concierge brand promise

Consider the kind of user experience that you are promising, or would like to promise, your customers.
What would that experience look and feel like for your customers? How close are you to delivering that promise today? What’s lacking?

Think beyond your website or your mobile app. User experience spans every touchpoint that your customers have with you, from your website to phone support to in-person contact. A discovery of what your audience expects from your brand can light the way to satisfying experiences.

We help our clients articulate their brand promises, and build digital products to deliver on the promise. Drop me a line if you’d like our help.
If this post was useful, you might also want to check out my previous post on harvesting the low hanging fruit of UX.