Most of us will admit to playing armchair behavioral psychologists when it comes to understanding our users' online behaviors. But imagine if you really were an actual behavioral psychologist?

Recently we sat down with David Nickelson, director of digital engagement, and Giovanni Calabro, vice president of user experience, both of Siteworx, to discuss best practices for content, web and digital experience and engagement. Nickelson, a trained behavioral scientist, integrates and applies digital, marketing, communications and behavioral learning and expertise to all aspects of web design and development.

A ‘Total Experience’

From mobile applications, social media strategies, WCM, enterprise search and e-commerce and analytics, web usability research is used to create powerful electronic experiences that engage customers and shape long-term relationships. Such experiences and relationships are not built based on one interaction, so it’s not surprising that Nickelson is concerned with improving a customer’s "total experience" across platforms and media.

As a result, he advises companies to define the transactional goals they wish customers to complete -- from signing up for newsletters to watching a demo to buying a product or service --before choosing the tools, technologies and platforms through which users are engaged. Once defined, examine the way transactions are currently executed. Nickelson says that for each device, from tablet to smartphone to laptop, the goal should be to duplicate the experience, not complicate it.

Digital Engagement Strategy Basics

Because the word "engagement" can mean different things to different people, defining a methodology for implementing engagement strategies can be just as varied. Yet, Nickelson and Calabro maintain that all engagement strategies have three elements in common.

Learning Opportunities


We armchair psychologists know that it’s important to take inventory of our customers, their behaviors, wants and needs. But are we really listening or just pretending to hear what they say? Listen to the stories your customers are telling and develop a process to collect and share with others.


What can you learn from customers’ stories? If done correctly, you’ll begin to understand what they want and what they don’t, as well as the types of experiences they enjoy. Of course, behaviors evolve as more technologies emerge, so it’s important that you listen and learn often.


All that listening and learning should lead you to valuable answers. What are people expecting to find? Where is it needed and where does it go? Creating and tailoring content to meet users’ needs will help you develop content across platforms. If it’s not helping, content will serve only to hinder your transaction goals.

It’s not earth-shattering that one need to listen and learn to develop better content. And Nickelson isn’t suggesting that it is. Rather, he emphasizes the importance of creating meaningful experiences, rather than big experiences.