Why is it so hard to design easy-to-use Web sites, mobile phone apps, and other customer-facing applications? Because you need to approach the design and development of customer applications differently than you would the design of applications that are designed to run your business. Whether you're a technologist or a business person who cares about the customer experience you offer, it's important to understand the subtleties involved in developing customer-facing applications.
The people that I admire the most, and the ones that I write about the most, have internalized a set of best practices for technology design and implementation that most of them don't even think much about. It's just how they do things. Over the decade that I have been following many of my heroes — the people who developed the original customer-facing applications described in Customers.com in 1998 — they have continued to evolve their companies' information technology infrastructure from the outside in. They always start with their customers' critical scenarios. They support these scenarios using different technologies, across a variety of channels and touchpoints. Their architecture evolves over time, but it's very consistent and elegant and simple.
In the fourth section of our Customers.com Handbook, we describe some of the elements that go into the design of truly customer-facing technologies. Some of these practices are the same ones you'd use to design or to think about any software development project. But you'll see that there's a subtly different spin. Customer-centric applications need to be designed to adapt and change constantly as customers' behaviors and needs change.
How to Approach Information Technology and Information Architecture for Your Customers.com® Initiatives
A Handbook for Your Customers.com® Initiatives—Part 4
By Patricia B. Seybold, CEO and Sr. Consultant, September 16, 2010