29. Create and identify the path
Once you have used your expertise and market positioning skills to see the future, your strategic mission is now to lay out a clear and compelling path for your customer to travel. Think of Dumbledore and Harry Potter. You are the wise wizard in this story. You see the future. You see the problem that needs to be resolved by your story's hero. You're the guide. So you are the one who must lay out the path for the hero’s journey.
The path you create must not just guide, but also motivate and encourage so your hero does not turn back and fail to complete their journey. (Another nod to the StoryBrand marketing framework here.)
In the context of your web property, you have a solemn obligation to keep your customer's future in mind at all times. Ensuring your plan helps maintain their enthusiasm and prevents them from failing to complete their mission is key. You must plan for them to succeed.
The work of identifying and creating the customer's path consists of building a compelling narrative, an engaging design, and reliable architectural components.
The narrative and the ‘voice’ used to carry a customer along their path through your web application is also the story-telling part of your marketing. Keeping in mind that humans do most of their thinking with the emotional parts of their brains, the narrative must address their pain and purpose at the emotional level. If your strategy and web application fail at this level you are missing a great opportunity. The narrative components are the language you use, the manner in which you tell the customer story, and the tone with which you frame their future desired state.
The design elements are the emotional conduit through which you send a customer on their journey. Choices of color, imagery, placement, typeface, and geometric shape touch deeply into the customer psyche. These elements efficiently and effectively engage and support the customer's motivational state. The cliché is true. A picture is worth a thousand words. The design level of your web application bears a great deal of responsibility for managing the engagement, motivation, and arguably the pressure that successfully sends a customer through your system.
The architectural components are best understood by using the web development exercise of wireframing. This exercise precedes design and narrative. It seeks to shape the end user’s web experience the way you’d refine specs and blueprints before pouring a foundation and framing up a new house. In this case, you’re not building a house, but a lean and simple pipeline dedicated to guiding your customer quickly and smoothly to their destination. In this case, it’s all about flow.
Imagine the blood that flows from your heart to your left foot. The veins channeling that blood do not first route up and around through your right hand. They go directly to the area of need. So too should the route for your customer. Consistent support of customer motivation happens when they trust the path you’ve created with the architectural structure of your web app.
Strong narrative + compelling design + smart architecture = customer success.