A Digital Strategist’s Design Approach

March 28, 2016

A digital strategist often takes a very data-driven angle when considering a client’s overall digital presence. Data, however, shouldn’t be the only consideration when creating a website, banner ad or social post. It’s equally important to look at every aspect of human-computer interaction throughout strategy development. Three key disciplines fit into HCI:

  • Psychology
  • Computer Science
  • Engineering

Each of these three legs plays an important role in a digital strategist’s approach and incorporating each of them is where design thinking truly comes into play (although the engineering aspect might be the most easy fit into what people consider “design” in the classic sense of the word).


The user is the true core of a design approach to digital strategy. At present, computers can’t do much without some sort of input from people, especially not the types of devices that a digital strategist might plan on using. User input, then, is the groundwork for the entire plan. The digital strategist should be thinking that when a user looks at the screen, they experience something different on their mobile while riding the subway or at the mall, to their tablet while sitting on the couch at home, to the desktop they use at the office. If the strategy doesn’t match the user’s changing behavior from screen to screen, it’s likely to come up short of its goals.

Computer Science

Remember when I said before that computers can’t do much without us? It’s true, but there are a few things out there they can do without our help (at least after we’ve given them a push in the right direction). Take Spotify radio for example, or the weekly discovery playlist the Spotify system can create for you. Each of these systems takes user input over time and uses it to make something new, tailored for you. A good digital strategist has an understanding of how that type of system does what it does (logging data about each song played by your profile, associating that data with other songs, finding similar songs to play for you later) and can leverage similar systems to work for a client’s communications.


Here’s where the real “design” portion comes into play. Engineering requires that the digital strategist match the user psychology with modern computer science to create a strategy that serves the user and the client, from both an aesthetic, web design perspective, and a scientific perspective that incorporates available data about user behavior, to paint one beautiful, functional picture. Designing the experience that fits requires a collaborative team that blends art and science, working together to surround the user, seamlessly.

Taking a design approach to digital strategy isn’t always easy, with bumps along the road and sometimes much disagreement about how to move forward, but in the end it will provide the greatest results.