It shouldn’t be surprising that the majority of interaction done with a brand today is via the digital experience. From discoveries to first impressions to ultimate conversions, a meaningful relationship between consumer and brand can successfully, and solely exist – online. For businesses, the ability to market to users at any time or day in a targeted way via data has shifted the way we do business, created an expanded market reach and is even changing the way we communicate, on and offline.

Naturally then, with so much focus and importance placed on an optimized user experience in a digital environment, much of the resources put towards marketing today are now directed toward web redesigns, UX/UI and content strategies. This is with good reason as ecommerce is on the rise and users are now performing much of their business via mobile. This digital-physical blur has caused technology to become a cornerstone in the modern human experience and for many, created the ideal (online) user experience.

Even as we lean into more invasive and complex technological models such as the internet of things and wearables, more and more users are seeking out a more human approach to connect with a brand. The problem is, with a UX strategy based solely on analytical data, the brand cannot truly know its user. Because the traditional model of User Experience has its roots in data and analytics, many business decisions are being driven by data alone. The truth is brands can more effectively understand the actions and needs of their users by integrating qualitative research into the process. It all goes back to knowing the user.

The importance of User Experience cannot be highlighted enough – however, the approach must be all encompassing and ongoing. Studying user pathways, identifying stuck spots, creating accessibility and developing user personas is just one part of the puzzle. Physically connecting with clients and consumers is a key player in making an authentic connection – even if the brand is based solely in the digital environment. Every user and brand has a human behind it, and that means responding to a tweet, writing a review, physically visiting a store or attending a trade show. The ‘data’ that will derive from these offline experiences can trump an entire session of online testing.

This new approach to UX will no doubt provide a fresh perspective in assessing what a brand needs to thrive in the market. Establishing the necessary elements of trust and authenticity, inspiration and community building. Customers will more likely to be loyal to a brand that provides these meaningful interactions in both their physical and digital personas.