Here at Modus, we stress the importance of regularly putting our prototypes in front of actual customers. Doing this is a fundamental part of our design process. The design community has already established how much user feedback benefits your product. Yet, what we learn from these sessions transcends just the domain of one product. Often, I leave sessions with insights into how people use any digital product, not just one.
Not too long ago, I was running a usability test for a prototype with a real estate agent. When the session finished, a product manager on our team asked Frank how much he would be willing to pay for the new product.
“I’m being nickel and dimed,” Frank replied.
We paused for a second and let his response sink in. What exactly did he mean?
“Every new tool that I use, I have to pay twenty, thirty, fifty bucks a month. If I buy a new product, then I have to stop paying for one I already use.”
This spoke volumes to me, for one main reason. We always review competitor and analog products for inspiration and feature parity. But that’s where we end the competitive review — we only look within the same product space. But, as Frank pointed out, your product isn’t competing just with products in the same space. Your product is competing with every single product that your customers use.
Ultimately, you need to provide a greater value to your customer than at least one of their current products. Otherwise, they’re not giving up their money. And in this golden age of software as a service, the ocean of valuable products abounds.
So what does this mean for our products? It means we need to hold our products to a higher standard. Our clients often posit that their user experience doesn’t need to be groundbreaking. They think they just need to beat their direct competitors. But we strive to teach them that being the best of the worst is not a winning strategy. For many industries, the product space is stale with antiquated design and cumbersome workflows. So this approach can fast track your product to the bottom of the barrel.