Marketing honours students unlock the art of user experience with industry experts

Posted on October 04, 2023

On Tuesday, 15 August 2023, the Marketing Management honours students expanded their learning journey into customer experience management, gaining insights into the significance of the role of effective user experience design in the customer journey mapping process.
The session was facilitated by two industry design experts. Professor Adré Schreuder currently holds the position of Chair of Customer Experience Management at the University of Pretoria, and Nicholas (Nick) Piquita is a Senior UX Engineer with extensive experience in graphic design, content creation, 3D design, motion graphics, user-interface (UI) and UX design.

Above: Prof Adré Schreuder, Nick Piquita (far right) and the Marketing Management honours class
Customer experience (CX) refers to the overall perception that a customer has of an organisation or brand, based on their interactions and experiences throughout the customer journey. It encompasses all touchpoints a customer has with a company, from the initial awareness and consideration stages to the actual purchase, post-purchase support, and ongoing engagement. User experience (UE) on the other hand, refers to the people (or users) who interact with the product and their experience during the interaction, including their thoughts, feelings and impressions during specific interactions. Although CX and UX are essentially different disciplines, in a world of omnichannel, where people expect a seamless experience across a brand’s websites, apps, and physical stores, the fusion of these two disciplines is crucial in today's business landscape and should not be considered in isolation.
Today, individuals who hold extensive expertise in one area, while also having a broader understanding and competence across a range of related or complementary areas, are highly sought-after. The ability to contribute to interdisciplinary teams and approach problem-solving from multiple perspectives can be highly beneficial in diverse work environments. The Department of Marketing Management recognises the importance of equipping students with an extensive skill set that will set them apart as individuals and enhance their marketing careers.
Technological advancements, especially the proliferation of mobile applications, have significantly heightened the importance of understanding basic UX design principles for marketers. Mobile apps for online shopping, loyalty reward programmes, booking systems, and various other services must be designed with a deep understanding of how users interact with their devices and what they expect from the app. Additionally, being familiar with common jargon utilised in online design aids with effective communication and collaboration within interdisciplinary teams. For example, terms such as "kebab" and "hamburger" menus are not related to food, but rather refer to specific icons or elements used in user interfaces. Clear communication and understanding of such jargon enable marketers to collaborate more effectively with design and development teams, ensuring a cohesive and user-centric product or service.
Piquita discussed the pivotal role of UX and UI in today's digital landscape. He emphasised that a seamless user experience and a visually appealing interface are essential for any successful application. He introduced the students to basic UX and UI design principles, including colour and contrast, white space, visual hierarchy, complexity versus simplicity, consistency, scale, and typography, providing students with a solid foundation. These principles are essential for creating designs that are not only visually appealing, but also functional and user-friendly. Research and practical experience in UX design show that even minor details, such as where the sample text is placed in relation to a text box, can influence users' perceptions of the organisation and their overall experience with the app.
The two industry experts then delved deeper into the importance of customer journey mapping and relevance in both CX and UX, where both disciplines put people and research at the centre of what they do to provide better experiences and value, ultimately boosting organisational profits. Understanding the journey that a user takes while interacting with an application aids in identifying pain points and opportunities for improvement.
As part of the Marketing in Practice Module, the students were tasked with proposing solutions for the development of a mobile application tailored to the needs of prospective students applying to the University of Pretoria for a postgraduate degree in marketing. Each team worked enthusiastically to develop a customer journey map for a typical marketing graduate student. They then applied their newfound knowledge of UX and UI design principles to create intuitive and engaging mobile application designs. The teams presented their solutions as part of their exam assignment for the module to Piquita and Bianca Frost (the module coordinator) on 12 September 2023.
Piquita was the guest assessor and attentively listened to each presentation, providing valuable insights and constructive feedback, given his industry experience. He praised the teams for their creative ideas and thoughtful approach to UX and UI design. Although not an easy task, the top three teams were announced based on their presentation skills, application of design principles, identification of pain points and recommended solutions in this regard.

He concluded the session by reminding the students that designing a great user experience is an ongoing process. Marketers and experience designers need to continuously gather feedback and iterate on designs to keep making them even better.

Second-placed team, from left: Nick Piquita, Neo Nkwana, Tamara Rungasamy, Ya-Yun Liu, Monica Martins and Gwyn Molomo

Third placed team, from left: Nick Piquita, Nastascia Montepara, Wanya Visagie, Kelly McCullough, Bradleigh Benson and Christian Schoeman
The Department would like to extend its sincere thanks to Piquita for offering his time to come and share his expertise with the honours students and enhance their understanding of user design in marketing today. Prof Schreuder is also commended for his initiative to incorporate such principles and concepts into the Marketing Management honours degree programme. Such knowledge equips students with valuable skills and insights that are highly relevant and necessary in today's tech-driven marketing landscape.
- Author Department of Marketing Management

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