Especially in the Internet channel, user experience is a significant differentiator between competing firms. In a narrow sense, "user experience" considers the interaction of a customer and a Web site - their ability to succeed at a specific and immediate task, whether the interface design helps or hinders them from doing so. In a broad sense, the user's experience of a company is the sum of all the contact they have with the company, in all channels.

To be successful, a user experience must deliver an "equilibrium of value" for the customer and the firm. (EN this is given brief mention, and is often overlooked by those who tout user experience, to the degree that the firm's goals are forgotten. A site that users love, but which renders no profit for the operator, is not viable in the long run.)

Given that the internet is replete with vendors who offer more-or-less identical products at more-or-less equal prices, the user experience has become the differentiating factor. The companies that lead the channel recognize the value of experience - that hard measures such as sales, clicks, and conversions are critically dependent on more qualitative measurements: whether the user "likes" interacting with the site.

It's also been asserted that the Internet channel is growing, and that face-to-face interaction between customer and vendor is decreasing. As such, the Internet can no longer be marginalized as an alternate channel, but is becoming a primary channel through which companies depend to generate revenue.

And as such, there can be expected to be increasing competition among vendors for user interface dominance, and companies will become more defensive of customer relationships and intellectual property, which will matter more than the physical assets of a firm.

Also, companies have been overly focused on technology, in and of itself, but must realize that technology is incidental: it is merely a channel through which the firm interacts with people and the relationship between firm and client.

Just as a rude clerk can damage your relationship with a store customer, so can a frustrating or inconsistent experience online be detrimental to the same relationship. As such, companies must focus on providing satisfactory experience in order to be successful in the channel.

(EN: An interesting analogy, and on much on my mind of late, is that companies often see their Web presence as a substitute for a physical location where the customer goes to get service, and neglect to consider that it is more in the nature of a substitute for a person who provides service. My sense is location is less important than many seem to suppose..)

About this Book

This book considers the value of a well-designed user experience as a driver of business profitability. It is intended primarily for marketing executives and managers involved in channel development, strategy, and project execution. It provides guidelines and recommendations based on best-practices among multidisciplinary development teams.

The author acknowledges that the medium is shifting - from the traditional desktop-based experience to a mobile computing one - and it will continue to do so, but the concepts related to user experience are largely independent of he specific device through which the user interacts with their vendor.