London olympics 2012 - are you ready?

by Foolproof

Designing an event

The London 2012 Olympics is just around the corner, bringing more than 900,000 visitors to the Olympic and Paralympic games. All these visitors will require access to huge quantities of information, products and services from the tourist sector, such as food and drink, travel, accommodation, entertainment, fashion and telecommunications, to name a few. We’ve already helped a number of leading brands get ready for the games, but the majority of businesses have been slow to react.

Here are my top tips for taking advantage of the games and beyond.

1. Target the right audience

Researching into the value proposition of your products and services mapped with consumer behaviours from visiting countries could help you to effectively focus your efforts and investment.

  • Not all the 900,000 visitors will be your target audience
  • East Asian tourists are known for their fashion shopping
  • Middle Eastern tourists like luxury brands
  • Europeans see London as a big entertainment city
  • Everyone communicates via mobile phone or computer

Develop a picture of the audiences, which are likely to connect with your proposition and create a marketing and design plan accordingly.

2. Optimise your interface designs for a multi-lingual audience

While it is not feasible for businesses to provide for all languages, a number of official languages should be the norm. At the very least, welcome your users. But how do you decide which languages to include? Associating languages with country flags is common but this practice is culturally wrong and does not provide enough leeway for users to select their desired language.

Would a German speaking Swiss citizen choose the German Flag or the Swiss flag? Recent research has also revealed that using one of the Indian languages (such as Urdu) for an everyday interface in a predominantly Punjab community or vice versa, is offensive.

Your interface designs may need to follow global or familiar standards to make them easier for users to navigate. Some countries are high context societies (such as Asian cultures), where more content on the interface inspires trust and engagement. In other cultures, busy interfaces with no structure can be seen as too noisy and not serious (Scandinavian cultures). But even this trend varies with demographics, thus the need to initially target the right audience.

3. Reduce your transaction friction by optimising your processes

If you do not already have quick checkout processes, clear and visible calls to action or pre-packaged and relevant deals/options, you may be asking too much from your users who only have a limited time or window of opportunity to buy your products or services.

In a number of recent research projects we have conducted, we found that many businesses have lost their customers in the labyrinth of irrelevant information presented to them. Users are often forced to dig through unnecessary content &; what I call noise in the transaction &; to identify what they need.

In a case study, we found a website promoting three core products that were effective in attracting the right audience but then failed to actually address their needs fully. Users were forced to go through each core product prior to identifying the right package they wanted. In such cases, users say that they would abandon the process, in favour of picking up the phone to get answers.

With the Olympics audience, not everyone will be keen to make a phone call due to language barriers or the cost of international calls. Also, if your product is not digitally delivered (physical products), how do you facilitate deliveries and returns for an international audience residing in temporary addresses (hotels, rented flats, etc.). Do they want to stay in their residence awaiting deliveries or make the most of their time by visiting London. DHL and UPS have recently introduced convenient points of collection with local shops/businesses.

4. Provide the X-factor to stand out from competition

This is a unique opportunity to quickly make your claim, and there is a massive audience ready to listen to what you have to offer. Your design and processes need not only communicate your value proposition, but also to add something enticing to your users’ experience. Why should they come to you? There are lots of similar products and services. So help your users choose yours.

Big businesses are already adding the X-factor:

  • British Airways are currently repainting all their aircrafts for the London Olympics to make them unique. Their planes will look like real birds (doves).
  • Holiday Inn are also highlighting their tailored experience for the Olympic audience.

How to effectively use your assets and design a unique experience to capitalise on this tremendous opportunity is what user experience is all about.

The London Olympics 2012 is an event. Design for it!

Author: Souleymane Camara

What do you think?