Why does everything look and act the same? - Shinyverse

Why does everything look and act the same?

I kept coming back to that question as I re-read the Accenture Fjords Digital Trends 2021 report. In it they shared an overall theme about the need for businesses to map out new territory in the digital arena. The central idea is that the people who create digital experiences have relied too heavily on tried-and-true designs and that has contributed to a “sameness” in experiences. Fjord thinks that this lack of dimensionality creates screen fatigue and prevents users from solving their individual challenges.

What they didn’t really touch on is why this is happening. Why does it seem like a sea of sameness when there are literally tens of thousands of different people building experiences? I think it comes down to two things: safety in doing something that appears to be working for others and the safety net of results from years of testing.

For example, we do a lot of digital experience work for our Fortune 500 financial services client, and this client does a ton of real-world and lab-based research. But in a world where testing provides deep insights it can also become crippling, because data from even a short period ago can be meaningless in the fast-moving world of digital experiences. The digital landscape has fits and spurts of dramatic change, but even during those transitions, historical data and analytics still drive current and future direction. In essence organizations have tested into a pinhole view of what works and use that “insight” to drive decisions. Ultimately, we had to tell our client and ourselves to forget everything we think we know about what works and not to look in the rearview mirror to get to that next big innovation. That’s a scary leap for any size organization, and the business results will ultimately determine what works, and what doesn’t.

Interestingly enough, part of Fjord Trends 2021 called for “Interaction Wanderlust” (boy do I love a good label). It went into depth about the need to re-engineer the interaction between design, content, and audience. Fjord believes that digital interactions should bring “excitement, joy, and serendipity” to the user experience. That could be ultimate simplicity. That could mean vast complexity. That could be a simple animation in between calls to the server that helps processor intensive tasks feel quicker. That being said, it feels like 2022 should be the year to shed sameness. Shed the historical data, old experience, and old notions and embrace the cataclysmic change that was the past two years.

The world has changed. Stop looking backwards at what worked before to drive decisions on what your customer needs now. Embrace the new, or you’ll miss out on creating experiences that stand out from the pack and deliver the business results that prove it.

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