Keith O'Neill

Determining Your Digital Direction

When it comes to digital product development these days, there are a lot of different ways to get to market. From templates to custom experiences, from unique platform offerings to a one-size fits all approach – the choices are wide and varied. With so many options, how does a company decide what is the right digital direction for their brand to take?

There are many companies promising to quickly get you to multiple platforms, from mobile to web to OTT Platforms, using streamlined, easy-to-follow templates. In an age where time is our most precious resource, this templatized approach to digital development can be very appealing for many brands who want to maximize reach with minimal costs.

Templates are great for getting to market fast with a straightforward, familiar look and feel. But for brands who want to make an impact with a look and feel that is uniquely their own, custom development may be the right way forward. Templates limit innovation, resulting in a lack-luster experience where the only avenue for competitive differentiation is in the content that is provided through the experience.

At L4 Digital, we collaborate with our customers up front to help them conceptualize their digital vision for the future. Here are a few questions we ask our customers to help them determine their digital strategy:

Do you want to take a multi-platform approach? – First, we need to determine which platforms our customers care about most. Sometimes, they want to create something special for one platform. In other cases, they want to deliver a brand experience that spans multiple devices and platforms.

Each platform offers unique features and constraints so companies exploring a multi-platform approach need to take into account the design complexities that come with that decision. Consumers today are more discerning than ever. They expect tailored experiences that tap into the features and navigation that come standard with their device. A recent study found that 57% of consumers will abandon a website if the page does not load within 3 seconds and 80% of these people will not return. Consumers simply don’t have time to tolerate bad product design, particularly one that doesn’t tap into the familiar device features they know and love.

What is the use case for your digital experience? – As we wrote in a past blog, delivering experiences in context to what the user is doing is one of the most important priorities for good design. Consumption patterns are changing and it is critical to think about the use cases you want to support and then design the experience around them.

Do you want your customer to be able to use your app or digital site to make a purchase with Apple Pay? When your customer walks near one of your stores, do you want to send them a promotion to entice them to enter? If these types of contextually relevant experiences are important to your brand and your customers then a templatized approach won’t work. Your company will require a flexible and unique digital product design. One that lends itself to the rapid adjustments necessary to deliver contextually relevant experiences that leverage the newest platform features.

Do you want to tap into the latest digital innovations? – The pace of innovation is faster than ever before. In Bloomberg’s recent ranking of the most innovative countries, the United States far outpaced the rest of the world when it comes to high-tech innovation. This presents a big opportunity for brands who want to set themselves apart by embracing new innovations and technology to deliver stand-out user experiences.

If your company wants to tap into new innovations, like the Apple Watch for example, then custom development is your best route. It will enable you to immediately take advantage of the latest features to stand out from the competition without having to wait on the roadmap of a template platform provider to take advantage of the latest functionality.

How important is competitive differentiation? – This question may seem straight-forward but it often isn’t. For some of our clients who are under budget or time constraints, a simple one-platform ‘me-too’ digital strategy might make sense. They need to get a digital experience to market fast and will choose to forgo the bells and whistles initially to avoid losing time to market against their competitors.

But many of our customers come to us because they want to do something special, where a one-size fits all approach simply won’t do. They want to combine creative, attention-grabbing design with familiar, intuitive features to create experiences that increase affinity for their brand. In those cases, some time and planning is required but the end result can often produce results that everyone can be proud of.

These are just a few of the questions companies should ask themselves before embarking on their digital journey. Determining which digital direction to explore isn’t easy. But by mapping out your strategy up front, it will help you determine your ultimate destination and avoid getting lost along the way.

Image courtesy of Tirza van Dijk for Unsplash.

Keith O'Neill

Keith co-founded L4 Digital after more than a decade working with successful wireless and technology ventures. Keith oversees L4ʼs strategic partnerships, customer acquisition, and revenue goals. Keith is also responsible for company marketing initiatives and is the lead spokesperson evangelizing L4 products and services at industry events and to members of the press.

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