Great UX/UI is no longer optional—but what makes it so vital for each and every brand? Our resident UX/UI expert, Matt Overwine, answered some of our most pressing questions about this indispensable part of any brand’s strategy.

You love talking about digital experiences – why are you so passionate about this field?
I both blame and thank video games. My first interactions with Intellivision, Atari and Nintendo were likely the early stages of me understanding user interfaces (UI), both physical and digital, and the emotional journey of a digital product (UX). Once I combined my novice skills with Macromedia Flash, basic web programming, and a Visual Communication Design education, I was able to understand the relationship between UI and UX. Being an early adopter of technology, more specifically smartphones, didn’t hurt either. I’m a true xennial!

Where do you see digital strategy and branding overlap? How can they best work together?
Every interaction designed for a brand should be considered part of the brand’s overall strategy. This extends to digital as much as it does for print. Websites, mobile applications, performance marketing campaigns, HTML emails – branding assets are a big part of what would be used to create and maintain each of these channels. Well-designed branding will help create well-designed digital channels and strategy. 

What are the top trends in the digital space and what do you believe is next?
We've all heard the phrase, "Data-Driven Decision Making," and have seen how this caused a major upheaval in the digital space. I believe many companies are still figuring out how to best collect and use their data; it's not a one-size-fits-all situation. Teams with development/programming experience have found a way to evolve within the ever-changing technologies, but less experienced teams have struggled to find the right scalable solution for their businesses. Third-party solutions have stepped up to fill some of these needs, but having a team to lead the way has become invaluable.

As for thoughts on what is next, I imagine a world that is more and more digitized. Paper processes being brought to digital interfaces and AI giving us smart suggestions based on what it knows about us. I think it's more important than ever to know your customers, the difference between needs and wants, and how to walk that line without crossing it. While there is certainly a chance of creating a future that looks like Minority Report or The Terminator, I remain optimistic.

What areas of digital marketing do you feel are underutilized?
I’ve always been a fan of well-designed, intentional, inbound marketing. When a business leans into their expertise and target audience, creating meaningful messages for their users/customers, the content comes out more natural and altruistic. A well-meaning video or blog post, shared across marketing channels, can go a long way in establishing trust in a brand.

What aspect of branding or marketing can digital NOT replace?
I believe there are limits to what we can do with digital strategy. For example, word-of-mouth marketing is something we can supplement with digital channels, but it’s that opinion passed along from a friend, colleague, or parent that carries the weight. In the same way, brands that are not attractive to their target audience(s), through design, voice, or message, will find digital channels challenging.

What do you wish people better understood about digital strategy?
How many bodies, and how much time, it takes to both plan a digital strategy and execute it. An example team may include the client, researchers, marketers, project managers, designers, and technologists, not to mention a number of pieces of software. And, depending on the strategy goals, and the particular market, it could take time to cut through all the attention-seeking materials we encounter, online and in-person, in an average day.

What’s the first thing any organization should do to start implementing a digital strategy?

Implementing a digital strategy requires physical or digital channels, or both. Depending on the organization, this could be a physical store, telephone, website, app, social media account, or any media where your users/customers interact with the brand. Understanding which touchpoints, or interactions, your users and customers use to accomplish a task is a good place to start.