Personalized Vs Customized User Experience

By – Preeti Nair

(Technical Lead | Digitate)

What is Personalization and Customization?

Personalized and customized are two words that people are often confused with and it will have different impact on the final output. They may seem to be similar, but the implementation in our product or website will show considerable difference between them. The objective of both is same, which is primarily to enhance the features and content as per user requirements. However, when it comes to user experience, the difference is notable.

I will try to explain this in simple words – Let’s say you go to a cake shop and order pastry. A customized experience would be telling the baker to put additional toppings of cherry and chocolate. Whereas, in a personalized experience, the system has retained your past orders with added toppings and it will serve accordingly without you asking for it.

Difference between the two –

a. Personalization is managed by the system – System is configured in such a way that it identify users and deliver them the data, experience or features that matches their role. Personalized experience offers useful content after analyzing user’s characteristics, behaviors and attribute.

b. Customization is managed by the user – User make changes in the product/website as per their priorities and interests by rearranging the content around an interface.

Why Personalize or Customize?

The objective to personalize any experience is to fulfill user’s needs and interest with no extra effort by enabling the content and functionality that user requires. The system must recognize user’s profile and adjusts the experience accordingly and hence we can say that it is based on artificial intelligence collected by the system over time. The power of personalization is an enhanced user experience as the system does all the work.

The main objective to customize it to let users decide on what they want to see or how data should be arranged or displayed in the interface. Customization works better with the assumption that users know their requirements and hence it is based on natural intelligence. The advantage of customization is that user can control the preferences and get what they want.

Trends in this space –

‘User Experience Personalization’ if implemented correctly, can make your product or website more powerful

Using Push Notifications: Push notifications is trending when it comes to connect with the users anytime anywhere, even when they are not using our product/website. It helps to keep the brand’s name fresh in users’ mind, by keeping them informed about the latest happenings in the application.

Start where the user left: If a user is not able to finish a workflow, start it from the same point where it stopped the last time. This makes things easier as user don’t have to maintain the history of the last action taken.

Enable Geolocation: This can be one of the important features of personalization. Geolocation can help to show more focused content based on user’s location..

Opportunities in this area –

One might experience personalization in multiple places in day to day life. One such example is “A very famous brand launched an app which allows users to design cartoonish avatars of themselves that can be featured as their profile picture, if permitted. When you click the avatar Story, you can see a series of comic-book-like images that tell a story about your own avatar. If you have recently spoken to a friend with an avatar attached to the app, you can also see your friends pop up in your daily Story.”

Personalization and customization offer interesting possibilities in creating experience for enterprise IT products:

1. Users navigate applications with different perspectives. User journey can be analyzed to create personalized and customized landing screens with key highlights, important updates, and quick navigations.
2. AIOps products perform a lot of automation and analytics operations. Personalized and customized reports and dashboards can be used to measure various KPIs to assess any application’s effectiveness.
3. Visual manifestation of the same also varies with user’s preference. Some prefer grids while others prefer charts. Some prefer node-edge charts while others prefer Gantts. Such flexible customization to a user’s needs can also help enhance the end-user experience significantly.
4. Push notifications can be used in creative ways to proactively inform the users of urgent and critical observations.

Conclusion –

The customers want an experience that is designed specifically for them. Generic functionality or data analysis will fail to capture their attention. Personalization or customization should be implemented to enhance user experience and not to fix a broken user design. Personalization is to create an experience without any effort from the customer. Customization, on the other hand, give customer a flexibility to modify the experience intentionally. This means while the user customizes, the system learns and personalize. The expectations from different generations vary, as a result of which we should be able to serve the best possible user experience.

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