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One of the important elements when it comes to improving the user experience is personalization. In general, users look for feasibility when it comes to using digital products and services. Because of this, users’ expectations are increasing alongside it.

In this article, Product Personalization in UX, we will discuss the importance of personalized user experience. Along with these sub topics:

Defining Personalization

Personalization is a process for businesses to custom made user journeys and experiences based on the individual needs and preferences.

For example, when a company operates an app and a website, both platforms need to have a custom user experience where the customer’s needs to be accounted for regardless of how they are interacting with the product.

When it comes to personalized user experience, the UX designer or UX developer should always place the user at the center, while the product design rotates around it.

A user-centered design for all UX personalization helps businesses increase their revenue.


Personalization vs Customization

While personalization and customization both aim to tailor user experience to the likes of the customer who is using the product, the difference between the two lies in the approach.

Personalization happens from the product provider’s end. UX professionals gather and implement analyticws, create data-driven assumptions, and automatically display relevant results to the customers. And in this case, the better the personalization is, the better the customer experience.

In the personalization process, the digital product is making its calculated decisions in favor of the user.

Example of personalization is when you open the Netflix app and you are greeted by your first name. You can also see the suggested movies and TV shows based on your watch history.

On the other hand, customization is usually done by the customers themselves. A customer chooses among options to tailor their user experience to suit their needs.

In the customization process, the user is the one making the decisions for themselves.

Let's take Netflix as an example of customization. In this mobile app, we can change our profile settings like profile picture, profile setting for different users, and even maturity settings to restrict particular content.


Personalized user experience design

It is a method that allows UX designers to customize the user journey and the user experience based on the choices and requirements of the customers. It manages the real-time individualization of a product or service that intends to meet every customer’s exclusive requirements and then leads the customers through a tailored conversion funnel.

Predicts the users’ needs

UX design personalization helps you predict the users' needs on your application or website. Providing your users something helpful even before they ask, enhances the user experience in your products and services.

Dynamic content

Digital content is supposed to be dynamic in the sense that they are supposed to be created for learning and adapting. Based on a study, 74% of online consumers are annoyed with websites that are not fitting of their interests.

Dynamic personalization allows content for learning as well as adapting. Nevertheless, a personalized UX design provides helpful information based on user data such as user behaviors, attributes, characteristics, and other data analysis.

Dynamic personalization uses algorithms for making an image of possible clients, their requirements, and buying habits depending on factors like device, behavior, Geolocation, and demographics. Machine learning, a crucial part of dynamic personalization, depends on a combination of analytics, filters, and algorithms for anticipating users’ basic behavior towards products and services.


The importance of personalized digital products and services

Personalized digital products and services exist for many different reasons. However, one of the core reasons is when you provide many users with a lifetime value of the main features of your products and services, which can be improved and leveraged through personalization.

This not only gives users a thoughtful, personalized experience but connects the promise of the core features with a custom approach.

A user study by Epsilon of 1,000 consumers, ages 18-64 suggests that the appeal for personalization is high.

80% of respondents indicating they are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences. 90% indicating that they find personalization appealing.

Below are several reasons UX teams personalized content for their users:

  • Personalization can lead to a greater affinity for a product or service, which allows users higher retention and increased customer lifetime value

  • Personalization as it relates to served or recommended content can make a huge improvement in the user’s experience

  • Users have different needs and depending on the features of your product, the experience could be customized to provide a unique look and feel from one user to the next.


Starting the user experience personalization

The first step to UX personalization is to define the strategy on the best ways to approach a customized experience.

We recommend that you start by outlining the why, who, where, and what.

Why

Why do you want to create a tailored user experience in the first place? What are you trying to achieve through a personalized experience? This may be a no-brainer question, but finding out the exact reason why you want to start personalizing create a seamless strategy.

Ask yourself these crucial questions:

  • Do you want to increase or decrease conversions?

  • Do you want to develop your user engagement?

  • Do you want to develop and increase your sales?

  • Do you want to bring more leads?

  • Do you want to increase retention or brand loyalty?

Outlining these questions can help you create the main goals for personalizing the customer experience. Remember that these goals also will likely align with your marketing or overall business goals. Once you’ve thought about your goal for personalization in general, go further and break it down into more specific and measurable goals for the short or medium term.

Who

Who refers to the target groups you want to speak differently to, which may include the following example segments:

  • Prospects

  • Loyal customers

  • First-time visitors

  • Users in various demographic insights or geolocation

Try to figure out your audiences and differentiate them meaningfully. Define and map the differences between the target groups as precisely as you can.

Each individual has their own preferred brands, colors, features, medium, etc. Each user may also reach a different journey in the conversion funnel. For these reasons, personalization must take these key differences into account. This differentiation will become the basis for segmentation and rule-based campaigns.

Where

Where do you plan to introduce data personalization? You can start by thinking broadly about the channels and system that are currently in use to interact with the users, including:

  • Website

  • Mobile app

  • Emails

  • Ads

Remember that the app or channel where you utilize for regular communication is a candidate for personalization. Once you have considered that, try to get more granular and start thinking about the different journey of interaction to introduce personalization.

If you choose to personalize your website or mobile app, you can go deeper and consider what to change within your digital products or services like the personalization of content, images, features, and even app functionality.

The Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) recommended that a successful personalization goes beyond content. A personalize data based on user behavior also includes app processes or functionality to streamline user experiences.

Deciding what aspects of data to personalize customer experience helps outline what the new custom user journeys would look like.

Map the personalized customer journeys for each target group, in particular, and make them coherent and consistent.

What

What refers to the things you like to say to the target audience within the identified channels to achieve the goal.

As yourself these questions:

  • Do you want to recommend content or products?

  • Do you want to show varied value proposition headlines based on geolocation?

  • Do you want to personalized the navigation or search results?

  • Do you want to select the right offer for each person?

  • Do you want to promote events to specific geo places or webinars to people with specific interests?

Start with the different types of user experiences you want to deliver and make a list.


Different personalization methods

There are so many types of personalization methods available that it can be overwhelming to choose which one you should try out.

Thus, it can also be quite huge to discuss all the ways to personalize digital product and service. However, let us cover the most common methods to personalize the user experience, which includes navigational personalization, predictive recommendations, and contextual messaging.

Navigational Personalization

This strategy is based on the behavior of people going to a website, or their behavior when browsing or shopping online. Based on these insights, we can create a custom experience for users when it comes to website navigation.

Such example when a visitor checks a specific product but then leaves without purchasing. What we can do here is to prioritize the product to appear on the website where it can easily be seen by that user the next time they visit the site. This strategy will increase the chances of them buying it.

Predictive Recommendation

We have seen this method applied in most eCommerce websites where the user sees recommended products when browsing the website.

This strategy is made possible because users' behavior can now be easily tracked online. Thanks to the recommendation engine tool that can quite accurately predict products a person might find interesting by utilizing relevant buying behavior from other users from the same target group.

How does this app work? If the user is browsing or shopping online, he may read something on the page recommending other items on the site. These recommendations often come in phrases like “If you like this, you might also like…” or “Other customers also bought…”.

We can take Amazon as an example. When you go to Amazon's product page, you see recommendations for other products usually viewed together with it.

Netflix also uses a predictive recommendation strategy. The popular movie streaming platform provides elaborate content customization algorithms. On its homepage alone, you can see relevant content based on the subscribers' browsing and watching journey.

Contextual Messaging

Contextual messaging is about personalizing messages to users based on elements like places, customer behavior, or the type of device used. The goal of creating customized content for the users is to deliver higher relevance to users based on different insights like location and real-time behavior.

Spotify is a popular music app that provides geo-location playlist to offer users more customize content that prefers to likely listen more on their account.


Brands' in-app personalization

Let us know discuss several exceptional in-app personalizations of popular brands. We have 9 mobile app brands that provide inspiration in terms of customer retention and success in revenue because they provide great personalized in-app experiences. 

Pinterest

Pinterest uses a combination of declared data and localization to enhance the user experience of its target audience. Did you notice that the sign-up process of Pinterest asks users a series of questions to understand their interests? This is when they combine these declared interests with location data captured from a user’s browser.

Why location data? They conduct A/B testing to properly identify local interests and combining them with a user’s location data, which they find a success when it comes to more relevant recommendations. 

This results in a more personalized home tailored more with every session. 

Netflix

If you are a subscriber of Netflix. You may have experienced their 5-star rating system a few years back. The problem with their rating system is it wasn’t consistent with how 5-star rating programs were broadly used. Instead of an average rating, their system was an individual rating based on what Netflix’s algorithm believed users would rate the program. 

Thus, Netflix changes this into a percentage score to show users how likely a program matches their interests. The match score is based on the watcher's viewing and browsing history and the thumbs up/thumbs down ratings. 

This change led to a 200% increase in Netflix ratings, greatly improving Netflix’s ability to curate recommendations and serve up a personalized homepage.

Wealthfront

Wealthfron's goal is to set users up on the path to financial stability with a simplified approach to apps investing. Their onboarding flow asks a series of questions to customize investment opportunities based on an individual's unique preferences. By limiting the choices and using straightforward copy, Wealthfront helps ensure users don’t drop out of the funnel during the process.

Apps like Wealthfront rely on user data to function. The key to getting that data is to request it in a manner that keeps the user engaged and excited to move through the funnel. Wealthfront’s onboarding flow is both personalized, and streamlined, and demonstrates value by adjusting in real-time according to user apps inputs.

Duolingo

Duolingo understands even the most dedicated learners get side-tracked, which is why their app uses gamification to keep users on target with their language learning goals. 

For those unfamiliar, gamification is the use of game elements and processes in non-game environments. Gamification is known to increase adoption by 600% while greatly increasing engagement and retention. 

Gamification appeals to users by:

  • Giving them control: Immediate feedback gives users the sense that they’re in the driver’s seat in terms of completing tasks and challenging themselves to level up.
  • Reinforcing good behavior: Words of encouragement inspire users to take the next step.
  • Acknowledging achievements: Recognition for completing goals gives users the sense of achievement needed to keep going.

Headspace

Headspace recognizes that meditation is an inherently personal journey. A one-size-fits-all approach would take away from the overall experience, which is why they centered their app meditation plans around each individual user.

Headspace’s onboarding experience walks users through a series of questions about their unique meditation goals:

From there, Headspace puts users on the path to success by setting up personalized  reminders and goals:

Headspace’s app makes committing to a healthier lifestyle easy by handling all the logistics for you. Their 1:1 app experience is a pinnacle example of how personalization can drive long-term apps success. 

Twilio

Getting new users to complete the first essential task is one of the biggest challenges product owners face. So why not walk them through it? This is exactly the approach Twilio takes with their developer-focused onboarding experience:

First, Twilio asks a series of simple questions to better understand each user’s unique needs.

From there, they walk users through the process of setting up their dashboard and eventually completing their first task, according to the choices they made during signup.

Twilio uses straightforward copy and a streamlined workflow to set users on the right path and fast-track their success. 

TurboTax

Filing taxes can feel unnecessarily complicated. TurboTax recognizes this, and attempts to simplify the process with a user-friendly experience that starts with a personalizing onboarding flow: 

TurboTax takes the scary out of filing by using a series of icons to depict key events in a user’s life that impact their filing. Even better, as you move through the experience certain options are pre-selected based on a user’s earlier input:

TurboTax transforms an anxiety-inducing task into one that is almost enjoyable by being clever with its use of personalization. They took an overly complicated process and streamlined it so that users feel empowered and confident to file on their own.

Spotify

Spotify is keenly aware they’re not the only big app music streaming service in the game. To combat this, they rely heavily on 1:1 in-app experiences. From curating playlists to providing an endless stream of recommendations, Spotify is no stranger to personalization. But at the end of each year, they dial it up a notch with their personalized Year in Review recaps and playlists.

The strategy here is simple—to delight users with a unique and relevant experience that is tailor-made to their interests and habits. It shows users that Spotify appreciates the time spent in the app and is using their customer data for good—to provide a fully customizable and personalized streaming experience.


In summary

Personalization is about user convenience. These days, consumers take into account this feature when it comes to their buying decision. Users wanted to have a seamless user experience before they even spend their time on an app.

A business that does not see the importance of in-app personalization in its UX design, will likely lose a massive percentage of users. After all, now it’s what users expect and not an optional luxury anymore.

Proper UX personalization is the tool to make your apps or website a success. Given the digital era, success means that a business should strategize, structure, and organize the UX design methods around their consumers.

The only way to stay competitive and relevant in business is to personalize the user experience in the design. Thus, it is equally important that one should properly identify the user needs to personalize the apps or services design based on the insights and analytics gathered from research. All these will help enrich the user experience.

Mary Ann Dalangin

About the author

A content marketing strategist and a UX writer with years of experience in the digital marketing industry.

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