Why when it comes to UX the best time to invest was yesterday
Better insights create better opportunities. The hallways of human invention are studded with stellar success stories - products so impressive they’ve garnered a cult following amongst users - but take a left at ‘walking sleeping bags’ or a right at ‘fish training kits’ and you could end up amongst motorised ice-cream cones (yes, all of these ‘wonders’ actually exist).
In today’s hyper-connected world, people expect their products and services to ‘just work’...and work beautifully at that. If they don’t, there are more options than ever to jump ship and switch to an alternative that provides a far better user experience.
Whether you like it or not, and whether you’re investing in it or not, there are no two ways around it – when it comes to digital products, user experience, or ‘UX’, is king.
Quite often, UX invokes visions of all-day sessions spent attaching colourful sticky notes to whiteboards. In reality, UX is so much more than that (although...we do love our coloured stickys!). Creating a great user experience is about getting to know the people who use your product intimately.
UX advocates for understanding their driving forces, and how solving *their *problems could make their lives a little easier. Whilst doing this, you’re also weighing up how to connect those solutions to your company's business goals.
From boom to crash
Unfortunately, many businesses find it far easier to bypass user needs and experience, jumping straight to ‘good idea’ without considering what (if any) problem a product actually solves. Cautionary tales include Quibi and Clubhouse - maybe the modern equivalents of the infamous ‘USB pet rock’ (what does it actually do that a normal rock is not already doing?) - serve as a stark warning that when it comes to Experience Design - the best time to really invest was yesterday (or failing that, right now!).
For the curious…Clubhouse is a new type of social network based on voice, where people around the world come together to talk, listen and learn from each other in real time. Clubhouse generated heavy buzz during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and experienced rapid growth, receiving a $4 billion valuation. People around the world loved being able to host their own online radio shows, listen to interviews and panel discussions, or get stuck into live conversations.
But now, the noise from this audio-only app has gotten quiet. Too quiet. What changed? What the user wanted and what the app provided no longer aligned. During lockdowns, digitally hearing others’ voices was the connection that people were craving, but as soon as freedoms returned and people could meet in person, the problem was gone, therefore the solution was no longer needed.
Other users who were still interested in their Clubhouse experience became deterred by their lack of innovation and fixes – such as the inability to record a chat or invite a large number of people to a chat, and the Android access was far too slow.
Combine all these factors, and despite the rapid initial growth of Clubhouse, you’ve got yourself the perfect recipe for...the sound of crickets.
Quibi similarly was shutting down just six months after launching. This streaming service invested in short 5-7 minute exclusive bites of content and was producing content with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, but they too provided a product that simply didn’t fit any of the user needs in market, or solve any existing problems.
Their intended audience was Millennials and Gen-Z, but when that generation is busy dreaming of becoming YouTubers, the appeal of tuning into Hollywood stars is low. Quibi completely misunderstood their audience, and no number of celebrities or capital was enough to provide the long-lasting engagement they needed.
Despite gaining 910,000 users within days of launching, only 72,000 wanted to continue when their trial period ended. Engagement is a two-way street.
Not yet convinced?
Boost your business
Studies show that companies that put their users front and centre benefit in the long run. Look at ESPN, who grew their revenue by 35% after engaging their customers in the product design process, or Amazon, Google and Apple who all invest heavily in customer experience. Their success speaks for itself.
Maximise your resources
Putting time and energy into UX is also a sure-fire way to know that your resources are being spent on the right things. When you start by finding out what your customers actually need and then testing your solutions, you are instantly saved from spending time, money and energy developing things that won’t ever be used, needing to make expensive design adjustments down the track, or investing in additional customer service to resolve constant issues. $1 spent on UX saves $100 in development, and the investment will keep paying for itself over time.
Better insights create better opportunities
New insights can feel exciting and revolutionary, but it’s crucial to evaluate whether your insights are helpful to your audience. With a focus on UX, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the driving forces behind your user’s behaviour, which opens up doors to see underlying problems, discover new business opportunities, and make decisions that are truly aligned with what your users need.
Taking the time to truly know your customer leads to knowing what they need and when you know that, taking the best path forward is easy. So too is avoiding the hallways of abandoned products. Car desks, dvd rewinders, tea Nespresso capsules...need I say more?