Humanizing The Digital Experience
Bay Alarm is a leading provider of security systems for residential homes and businesses in California. Family owned since 1946, they are known for high quality service and support. In an industry with a high employee turnover rate, they pride themselves in retaining highly trained employees that stay with the company an average of over 10 years.
The Bay Alarm website was in an odd way a reflection of the reason for the success. The focus on face-to-face customer service and support was strong. Their digital presence in the areas of lead generation and knowledge sharing needed a fresh strategy. Working with holistic digital marketing agency Camp Media Arts, a creative and marketing agency with an impressive roster of web application development and inbound marketing strategies, Bay Alarm recognized that the website could perform to their advantage.
Camp Media Arts brought on UX designer and strategist Daniel Castro to lead a couple of design thinking exercises and a UX workshop.
Our goal for bayalarm.com: reflect the premium service that thousands of happy customers experienced, generate sales leads and provide a richer knowledge base to help visitors make informed decisions.
Don't Forget There's a Human Behind the Screen
The human experience. Any digital effort that brand’s undertake, needs to reflect the basic wants, needs and fears of real people as they experience service points. Our approach gave us rapid insight to get a clear sense of how a digital landscape would interconnect with other touch points such as “brick and mortar”, call centers, or support.
Bringing the whole client and agency team together, we conducted an in-depth Customer Journey workshop. We drew our inspiration from several popular customer journey/service map tools created by Jakob Schneider & Marc Stickdorn and the Business Model Canvas by Strategyzer.
To empathize with Bay Alarm customers, we “walked in their shoes” for a day by keeping our minds open to the emotions and needs that are fulfilled or left unrealized as they first got the idea to contact Bay Alarm, (i.e. via social media, campaign, or word of mouth), all the way to getting purchase and support. It's a fun and eye opening exercise even for those that had been in the company for many years. This became the core journey that related to the website.
Next, we created a persona based stakeholder service map. Bay Alarm has two primary markets, (business and residential) and each market had its own set of personas. We focused on the primary two personas since the stakeholders did not really change. This gave us a clear sense of possible gaps that existed and provided better visibility into potential opportunities in the future.
A Living Breathing Digital Ecosystem
One of the most important roles that our UX strategist Daniel played, was supporting our effort to educate the client. For example, it is often overlooked, the importance of seeing the website as a part of a whole “digital ecosystem.” Building a website in the traditional sense and leaving it until trends in design demanded a change, is a thing of the past. Customers and potential customers are digitally connected all day and expect that brands to adapt to them. This means that a "redesign" is only the beginning and should be viewed as a collection of digital services that amplify each other. To demonstrate this, testing played a major role in our process. We ran several qualitative tests to ensure the collection of data that supported hypotheses we made and provide insight for future iterations of the website.
Next we interviewed customer to see how existing and potential customers thought of residential and home security. We found a very strong connection between major life events that triggered concern for security, monitoring, or general curiosity around technology options. This provided a good foundation for the site information architecture which should map to how mental models of visitors.
Putting It All Together
Armed with direct customer knowledge, everything coalesced into a solid strategy defined by design principles that we used to guide the site experience. We find these principles are fairly universal and easily applied to almost any website design project.
Content is king
Optimize for "scanning" behavior
Don't make users think
Clear call to actions with minimal user input
Simplicity. Allow the content to shine and provide a sense of "quality" through minimalism.
Clear sense of hierarchy (the mind likes simple structure)
Low cognitive load via white space and reduction of unnecessary "noise"
Test driven designs
A Sophisticated and Caring Neighbor
A common theme we heard from customers was that Bay Alarm was a primary choice due to either word or mouth, or because they saw the signs in the neighborhood. Customers also liked that Bay Alarm was a local company and cared for California residents and businesses exclusively. The information architecture and the design reflected this mindset.
From a brand perspective, our design had to reflect a "premium" voice and service. We eschewed information clutter and overt promotions, focusing instead on guided customer experiences to encourage informed choices that met their goals.
Life events and lifestyles were featured as clear entry points for relevant content and services. Visual cues supported the idea that Bay Alarm was a 'local' that cared for the neighborhood. The site displays beautiful scenic images of the local area that the visitor is viewing from LA, SF, San Diego and throughout their California service areas. Local branches display pictures of the local managers and contact information of the local branch. All these details tied nicely with the design choices for a visually rich and relatable imagery.
Initial user testing was very positive. Words such as "professional", "appealing", "care", "get it" and others were used to describe the site. Visitors liked the aesthetic balance of content. The lifestyle approach was well received.
These results were similar for both residential as well as business! We’re happy to validate the advance effort and research required prior to the actual designs phases. This reflects the dedication and belief by Bay Alarm that these investments pay off in a better experience for customers. Since the site has gone live, leads are up over 400% and other conversion rates, and web statistics are trending up significantly. Check it out!
Creative Director: Richard L. Camp
UX Strategy/Information Architecture: Daniel Castro
Visual Design: Jordan Camp, Kevin Wong, Carolina Escobar
SEO: Jackie Richmond
Lead Workflows: Chuck Jones
Project Management: Mike Stevens, Jamie King
Developer: Mike Hatfield