The Lowdown on Customization and Personalization
Customization and personalization have the same main end goal: to create an experience tailored to a user’s interests. However, they have different ways of reaching that goal.
Firstly, customization gives control to the user. A system enables users to customize and edit the experience to meet their specific needs and changing preferences.That could include layout configuration, content, or functionality. User’s will be able to customize aspects of the interface design to match things such as topics of interest and color.
Customization enhances the user experience by allowing the user control over their interaction with the product so that they get precisely what they want (assuming the user knows what their goals and needs are.)
For example, interface customization enables the user to make selections about what they want to see. They can set the way they prefer the information displayed or organized. Perhaps you want users to be able to select the topics that most interest them Customization will allow users to select and access them quickly.
With customization, users get exactly what they want. But if they don’t know what they need or don’t want to edit their user interface, then turn to personalization.
Personalization is done by the site (or app or service). It can be implemented at the individual level or at audience/group level. Basically, users are identified, then delivered content and function that is personal to them and matches their needs and interests.
With user profiling, personalization adjusts the interface accordingly, with no effort on the user’s part. Personalization might deliver specific relevant information, give (or restrict) access to certain tools, or make processes simpler by remembering user information.
E-commerce sites such as Amazon know a lot about users’ purchasing history and patterns. Based on that behavioural data, such sites can personalize their sites and offer user-specific special. This also is why Amazon’s suggestions are so accurate – they are based on your past browsing and purchasing histories and tailored to what the company thinks you will be searching for. This inevitably brings value to the customer and builds brand loyalty.
Personalized content that targets the right people at the right time with the right content will aid in turning connections into conversions. Personalization improves the UX with no extra effort from the user by combining deep data analysis and automation. But then you are relying on the computer’s ability to accurately determine what every user needs.
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To decide which approach is best for your brand, you must know your user! Do your due diligence and conduct data analysis on audience research to decide which will be preferred over the other.
Once you have decided whether customization or personalization is best for your business, make sure your site is usable. That means the site needs to be easily navigable; customization and personalization won’t fix a broken site. Don’t use either design approach willy-nilly; consider that both take time and require work to maintain. Customization will require the user to be able to make changes. Personalization will require frequent review to ensure the right content is going to the right people. So move forward thoughtfully and purposefully.
Both customization and personalization can enhance the user experience when carefully implemented but there has definitely been a shift away from customization and towards personalization. The former has a higher interaction cost and is more difficult to implement on mobile.