Quality UX: Seth Godin Explains

Slapping pink on it doesn’t make your product female friendly. Putting stock photos of multiple races doesn’t make your product “diverse”. Offering a never-ending list of “features” doesn’t make your product more valuable. To have quality UX, having a direct line of communication with your audience is essential…literally talking to them to find out what does matter to them. That may sound obvious, but I’ve heard it over and over again, oh you mean a survey? No, I mean speak to the them, but more importantly listen to them. Like look them in the eye. Wait, that doesn’t scale. Yep. To that I say, Airbnb.

Surface stereotypes will not make raving fans for your product. In fact, putting some pink on a digital product that does not align in any other way to a female audience is sure to offend. Yes offend the people you are trying to attract. In order to be meaningful to your humans, your product has to solve a deep need for them even if they can’t quite understand why or how. You have to talk to them to figure out what matters most to them and don’t PIVOT! Just tweak. Or test. One item at a time. Only if you learn through conversations that you are completely off the rails do you pivot. Often times your product needs messaging that is aligned with their deep seated needs, fears, and desires.

On the User Defenders podcast, Seth Godin [Beginning at minute 18:42] discusses empowering customers through a scalable, mission-oriented organization. VisionSpring produces reading glasses for $2 and sells them for $3 to individuals in developing areas who rely on their eyesight for survival (e.g., weavers). VisionSpring gives the power in the relationship to the customer by giving them the choice to say yes or no, as opposed to giving the glasses away. The small $1 profit, creates a more sustainable business, while empowering customers. It’s a win. win.

“By giving your consumer the power, you make your product better.” — Seth Godin

Seth improved the user experience by removing shopping and presenting a loss aversion scenario. He did this by removing the 10 glasses that they had lying on a table as samples and having only one table with one pair of glasses and a reading chart so that the customers could see that they worked. He then asked one question that increased sales by double, “Would you like to give me the glasses back or give me $3 and keep the glasses?”

All of a sudden this deep seated issue of being able to see which is so vital to the livelihoods of the individual was solved by a relatively small investment, but only after Seth framed the experience in a way that removed “shopping” from the customer’s experience. The experience was viewed as an exchange, not a shopping experience by the strategic use of this low pressure, high yield question.

The concept of knowing more about your customers can be a confusing. What we really need to know is our customers at a deeper level. Their fears and desires and their life circumstances situation.

But if fears drive customer behavior, why don’t more sales, marketing, and product people focus on them? My perspective is that it’s because it’s uncomfortable to do so. It’s uncomfortable to admit that someone is in a bad situation, or needs help. It’s hard to go there. But going there is where you need to go if you are attempting to uncover an inability to serve.

I just bought a pair of yoga pants. I wanted black ones, but I could get the blue ones sooner and my current yoga pants are in rough shape. So I bought the blue ones. My need for yoga pants overshadowed my desire for a specific color….within reason. To be honest, I could use a few pairs so it’s not a big deal for me to pick up one, but I don’t have to overcome the fear of “buying blue yoga pants”. That’s not a top fear for me. My top fear is that someone will see through my current yoga pants because they are literally wearing away…yikes! So my fear leads me to a buying a choice, not away from one. But if the color option that I had to select was say, pink snakeskin…or maybe Red spider web…well, now that would be a fear of buying. Yes, I’m afraid of snakes (who isn’t), but my fear of how I would look in pink snakeskin or spider web far surpasses that fear! In that case, I might not be in their target market because no amount of quality user experience is going to get me to purchase snakeskin or spider web anything. It’s just not my style (could you tell from the blue or black yoga pants story!?;).

Source: Aspire activewear — in case you are the spiderweb yoga pants wear type (no judgement;) )

So digging deeper into your customers’ fears will lead to quality UX, because your user experience will guide the user down the path that serves them, not your perception of how great your product is. You don’t know their specific fears unless you ask AND listen. That requires patience and frequently listening to what is not being said as much as what is. Those yoga pants? I picked them up at Four Athletics. They do a great job of listening to their customers by offering them buying choices, but only manufacturing the styles that their customers vote on with their wallets. It’s an interesting business model that requires intimate customer knowing and provides a unique and custom user experience. The customers are part of the process.

So have that quality UX, by having a direct line of communication your audience.

Happy Listening!

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