walking into the airport with luggage
PHOTO: Mike Wilson

When you're on the phone with an airline that lost your luggage, the last thing you want to see is a push notification from the airline with a promotion for a cheap flight. 

You want your bags. Now.

Too many organizations do not connect with customers on their digital journeys at the right moment in the right arena. Most likely they fail because they don't really know their customers well or what their needs are at any particular point in their journey.

It’s a problem that can be fixed by leveraging comprehensive customer research and data mining that keeps a sharp focus on the customer throughout. 

Executives at Boston-based digital experience provider Acquia and digital agency Huge, Inc. hammered home these points in the recent Acquia-CMSWire webinar, “User-Centric DX: Personas, Journey Maps & Design.”

“We’re not getting it right and are not meeting the consumer where they are in their journey,” said Jim Shaw, vice president of customer solutions and value at Acquia. “You need to be able to meet them on whatever channel it is they’re interacting with your brand.”

User-Centric Research

How do you get there?

Huge, Inc., a digital agency headquartered in Brooklyn, NY, researches and maps out customer personas and journeys to help businesses on all levels of digital maturity.

Todd Lefelt, managing director of UX at Huge, Inc. said design projects and digital programs could take anywhere from a week to a couple of years, depending on an organization’s needs.

The first thing is ensuring that all stakeholders involved are in lockstep with one another and that collaboration is transparent and effective, he said.

“In today’s world disruption happens every day,” Lefelt said. “There are new technologies and new paradigms introduced all the time.”

Huge’s process puts the user at the center of the project and keeps them at the center throughout its duration.  

“We keep the focus on the users,” Lefelt said.

Huge, Inc. persona building

Traffic Data Shows What's Working

Lefelt recommends starting with a qualitative approach, taking the time to understand users and build a model of them that informs any design and strategy. 

When data mining, use analytics and search to paint a good picture of what’s working for your customers and where things break down.

Take time to understand current-state behaviors. Analyze traffic data to learn what’s working, what isn’t working and how people are engaging with any digital experiences.

Know your engagement metrics. How is the digital experience you provide helping customers and prospects and what happens when they first encounter you?

“Data tells us what,” Lefelt said. “Research tells us why.”

Getting the Complete Picture


Huge, Inc. typically breaks down its research on digital projects into three pillars: exploratory, assessment and validation. These three steps include determining past and current behaviors, testing concepts and theories and validating design models. 

Qualitative research, Lefelt said, helps you understand why users are behaving in certain ways. It gives you a more complete picture that informs strategies and decisions.

“Invite users and talk to them about subject matter and observe how they use digital to solve problems,” Lefelt said. “Our focus is about understanding who users are and what they need. And then we can seek the truth about what we’re seeing.”