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have the UX Factor ?

By Mickaël Bernard, Lead UX Designer, Rakuten DX 

In 2021 you just cannot underestimate the power of best-in-class User Experience (UX) design. As the boundaries between our physical and digital worlds blur, only the businesses that put customers at the heart of their digital products and services will succeed. Quite simply, if you’re developing digital experiences, you need to ensure that they have the UX Factor.

UX is critical to seizing today’s business opportunities – and the power of best-in-class UX design cannot be underestimated. By building a frictionless user journey across digital channels businesses will boost brand perception and loyalty. It must be more than simply functional but deeply intuitive, connecting with user needs. Cutting through the competition with excellent experiences will provide the winning edge.
At Rakuten DX our approach is rooted in Co-Innovation – you bring your challenge or your idea, and we’ll turn it into a great digital experience. To do this, we follow the Design Thinking methodology.

“It’s an iterative process that ensures that our business partners take the right first steps on their digital transformation journey”

Design Thinking uncovered

Design Thinking is a five-step roadmap that starts with Empathy – we have to understand and know our users; we then move into the Define phase where we look at users’ needs and challenges. It’s so important to interrogate this in great detail as it sets the tone for everything that follows. Next comes the Ideate phase – at Rakuten we are creative problem solvers and invest hugely in this part of the process. This includes everything from brainstorming to personae sheets, user experience mapping to user testing. After that, we move to the Prototype phase where we start creating solutions and then we start to Test. 

All in all, it’s an iterative process that ensures that our business partners take the right first steps on their digital transformation journey – and do it at speed. That’s why we invest so much time at the start and by following this innovation-powered process. We give our partners a competitive advantage which sets them up for success. 

It’s all about end-user centred design and in the current pandemic we have adapted our model quickly – for example, our brainstorming workshops are all digital now which has really empowered our clients as we work together on these problem-solving missions. It’s a flurry of digital post-it notes as we start to bring the creative concept to life!

Embracing the Rakuten DX ecosystem

At Rakuten DX, our approach is powered by creativity and empathy, but underpinned by the huge ecosystem of a successful digital Japanese company with global reach. This unlocks a whole world of possibilities for our business partners. 

With the Design Thinking process complete, the next step is to create the User Interface (UI), with a series of wireframes to support the content. Colour and graphics are then layered over the prototype, frame by frame. This is when the Design Thinking comes to life with the first semblance of an entirely new, totally unique product – driven by co-innovation.

Within three months your app is ready to be unleashed to the world – with a huge helping hand from the Rakuten global ecosystem. To flourish in 2021, you really do need the UX Factor. Excellent UX design not only fosters greater brand loyalty, it also boosts website conversion rates by 400%, according to Forrester research. The proof is in the pudding as demonstrated by one of our stand-out UX projects Books for Kids (ViacomCBS).  

How ViacomCBS put the UX Factor into action with Rakuten DX

The global group leader in entertainment content, ViacomCBS, looked to us to support Books for Kids as it sought to master and manage interactive content.

It wanted to keep the content fresh, engaging users with regular updates. 
Our team put Design Thinking into action, generating UX and UI recommendations for an interactive library, designed especially for children between 3 – 12 years old.  The prototype included key features drawing on the depth of Rakuten DX’s offering, to really turbo-charge the user experience. For example, it integrated offline connection, progressive download system and multitask mode features.

Finally, Rakuten DX empowered Books for Kids staff to use these tools, create, manage and publish content with a training course. The project was a big hit with the kids and helped to build strong customer loyalty along with engagement.

Putting emotion into UX design

To get the UX factor, you need to take Design Thinking to the next level, putting empathy-driven understandings into action. That’s exactly what we did when creating the progressive Shift app for Rakuten EMEA.

Rakuten EMEA wanted to promote a more sustainable future via a responsive internal app. The idea was to educate our employees while giving them the tools to be sustainable at work and at home. The app delivered interactive, empowering content to drive culture change – with greater accessibility strengthening the message. 

“This app is something we now constantly feed, with low human intervention, to help thousands of staff learn, act and influence. And, it has opened the door to dialogue across the business as to how we can build purpose into our profit-making goals.” Says Mark Haviland, EVP Sustainability at Rakuten EMEA.

In a mobile-first world it has never been more important to invest in best-in-class digital experiences with purpose. If you want to succeed, you really do need the UX Factor – read more on Rakuten DX’s design thinking here.