Ward Andrews is the founder and CEO of “Drawbackwards,” which is one of the leading design firms in the Phoenix, Arizona area. He and his team work to dissolve complexity and create simplicity for customer experience and software product teams around the globe.
He is a member of the Honors Faculty at Arizona State University. There, he teaches Design Entrepreneurship and helps students form creative disciplines to develop real products and launch real companies.
Ward is my former business partner. He and I were Co-Founders of Families.com. Together, we helped grow site members to 300k in just 18 months. This family-centric social community was then sold in 2007, only two years after launching the company.
Ward has held many other roles such as a Design Director and Internet Strategist at Fisher, and a Creative Director for Rhino Internet. Some of the brands he’s worked with to improve their design, UI (user interface), and UX (user experience) include American Express, Choice Hotels, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Sony, Intel, General Dynamics, Insomniac Games, and GoDaddy. Projects he’s worked on have received Addy, Prisma, and Emmy awards. Through CX and software product work, he has created over $1 billion in value through cost savings and new revenue growth (Source: Drawbackwards).
Here are three strategies Ward shared in our interview for implementing and improving effective user experience design:
1. Start with “Why”
I asked Ward if logos are important for small businesses, and if so, what are some dos and don’ts of creating a logo. Ward said many people get hung up over logos. “You don’t even need a logo!” he said. “In a way, they do matter, but in another way, they don’t.”
Ward shared the Simon Sinek teaching: “Start with the why.” “Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY” (Source: Simon Sinek).
The “why” should be at the center of everything a business or individual does. Then, there are concentric circles around “why” for “how” and “what.” Ward explained that a logo design should come at the end when talking about the “what.” Not that the logo isn’t important, but he said, “all I’m saying is not start with the logo. Start with the why. And the logo will be a result of the why, but it is a what.”
When individuals or businesses have a great why, people connect with it and give credibility or trust to the business or individual. Ward presented a great question, “If people don’t know why a business exists, why buy from them?” If there’s no why, then it can take away from the credibility, trust, or connection that individuals can build with a business.
Now, after the “why” and “how” have been figured out, then it’s ok to start thinking about the “what” and logo, which are actually very important. Because the why has already been figured out, then the logo should tell the story of the why. “Do the why work first before doing the logo work,” Ward said. Once that’s done, the color, fonts, etc. will then be able to carry weight and meaning to people.
This is how to create a powerful logo. Start with the why.
2. Improve User Experience & Interface
Design Mistakes in User Interface
Ward’s daughter was old enough to drive and had to go through the process of getting her learner’s permit. In order to do so, she had to sign up on a particular web interface. She said to Ward, “Dad! You would think that something everyone in the public needs to use would be really well designed and simple.” Unfortunately, it was not, and this is how many interfaces are executed.
“The Experience Success Ladder”
Ward created a framework called “The Experience Success Ladder” to improve experience and interfaces. This ladder includes 5 parts: Functional, Usable, Comfortable, Delightful, and Meaningful, which helps them to better measure a business’s success and credibility. It also allows them to see where products, services, and experiences fall on the ladder一on the higher end or lower end. “We find that people who are loyal to products and brands gravitate to experiences that are on the higher end of the ladder and not the lower end,” Ward said.
Their team did a lot of work with Choice Hotels’ brands such as Sleep Inn, Comfort Inn, Rodeway Inn, and others. They would go in and redesign the booking workflow which was used by each brand. They redesigned the booking so that there was less friction in the buying process.
Many companies create funnels that try to do too many things and are too distracting. Instead, Ward helps his clients create simplified sales funnels where the visitor does one thing at a time with a clear objective.
Apple has done so much work over the years to get to where they are today. They have built all the infrastructure to deliver what they have now. “They’re dumping Intel and creating their own chips because they can’t get the performance or the full hardware-software integration that they want with others. They’ve been doing this over many years and decades, but they’ve been taking out third-party stuff and building their own,” Ward said.
Disney has been doing the same thing. For those who haven’t ridden Space Mountain, it’s a custom-built roller coaster inside of a dark space mountain. “It’s all custom tech! If you go to any ride at Disneyland, every console has a custom design with a simple interface that is designed only to do the things that that specific ride needs,” Ward said.
Customer and Employee Experience
Ward likes to teach “Customer Experience” and “Employee Experience” with a 6-square layout. There are three categories relating to the customer’s and employee’s experience, and that is awareness, delivery, and loyalty. “If we can boil down customer [or employee] experience in these categories, we can see where we are credible and where we are not credible. Then, we can up-level each one of them.”
(part of Ward’s methods in the self-assessment process)
Looking at the “Employee’s Experience,” how can we acquire great employees? What is the culture like? Ward likes to take each category and scale it from 1 to 10, with 10 being high and 0 being low.
Let’s say a business does a self-assessment for employee experience in each of these areas, giving themselves an “8” for awareness, a “7” for delivery, and a “2” for loyalty. Then Ward and his team ask a set of survey questions to the employees and customers to see where the gaps are at. Once that’s finished, it’s so much easier to know what to focus on when improving the employee or customer experience.
“You don’t need to have a billion dollars to pinpoint this,” Ward said. “You just need to have the right framework and a good partner/consultant to work with you to get into it.” This way businesses can turn around, see the current result in each category, and then set a goal of where they’d like the “Customer Experience Loyalty” to be. This framework allows others to pin-point, focus, and prioritize the focus of improvement efforts.
3. Build Credibility
During the early days of Twitter, there was no need to have “verified” accounts. (You know the blue, little dot after someone’s account name? That means it’s verified to add credibility to the person). Well, those didn’t use to be there, but Ward is one of the reasons those were deemed necessary.
Shaquille O’Neal was playing for the Phoenix Suns but had no Twitter account at all. Ward and I are both big fans of the Suns. Ward thought it would be fun to go and create an account for Shaq. So, Ward made an account called @shaquilleoneal, and started tweeting as if he were Shaq! It was an amusing experience for Ward until people began asking Shaq, “Umm, why are you Tweeting from the bench?!” Of course, Shaq hadn’t been tweeting from the bench. That was Ward doing the tweeting.
Sadly, Twitter ended up shutting down the account (you can still read the archive at @NotShaqONeal). Shaq got his own Twitter account, and now there is that blue dot next to specific individual’s names to verify or add credibility that the account belongs to the right person. Don’t worry, though. Ward got a great gift out of it. The Suns sent Ward a Shaquille O’Neal jersey signed by the man himself.
Having this credibility that Ward talks about is so fundamental to attracting and retaining clients. “When you establish credibility, your clients, customers, and peers respect you, vouch for you, and continue to use your business because they feel connected to what you say, do, and stand for.” (Source: Aguilar Public Relations)
Connect with Ward
Thank you so much Ward for sharing your stories and strategies with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from today’s episode:
1. Begin with the “why.” What’s your purpose? What’s your story? Once you’ve decided this, everything else should link back to it. The “why” should be at the center of everything.
2. Not that the logo isn’t important, but don’t start with it. Start with the “why.”
3. If people are going to be using it, make sure it’s designed well and simple.
4. When designing, keep Ward’s “Experience Success Ladder” in mind: Functional, Usable, Comfortable, Delightful, and Meaningful.
5. We want as little friction as possible in the buying process. To achieve this, create one clear objective, not many objectives. This helps build credibility and user experience.
6. Assess your business’s “Customer Experience” and “Employee Experience” for an inexpensive way to find the gaps for improvement.
7. Credibility is fundamental when bringing in and retaining clients. Effective design will add to the credibility and success of a business.
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