From Love to Loss: How UX Saturation Can Ruin Products and Relationships
Have you ever loved someone so much, but with time you see changes in their behaviour and slowly see yourself falling out of love? Well, guess what? The same thing can happen with apps and products we use every day. It’s like they start off as the solution to our problems, but then they become the problem themselves.
It’s not uncommon for successful products to fall into the trap of overwhelming their users with an abundance of features and functionalities. This is a phenomenon I’d like to call — UX Saturation. This occurs when businesses deviate from their core purpose and venture into unrelated territories due to saturation of product features.
It’s important to understand what pushes a business to go in this direction. Have you heard of the Saturation Stage Strategy?
Saturation Stage Strategy:
As the name suggests, saturation stage is when a product’s feature reaches a saturation and starts loosing customers to competitive markets. The goal of strategies used in the saturation stage of products is to stand ahead, create a distinctive position in the market, and make possible efforts to stop the decreasing profits.
To successfully implement the saturation stage strategy, the marketer has to differentiate and standardise products to make them very different from the competitors. And then comes, the effort to compete along with products that already HAVE those features.
In the middle of this rat race, businesses forget that customers loved your product for what it ‘was’, and probably never needed so many features in the first place. It’s like going to an Indian buffet and being served a mix of sushi, tacos, and dosa — confusing, right?
The Facebook Fiasco: From Social Media to Identity Crisis
Let’s take the example of popular social media app — Facebook.
Remember when Facebook was all about connecting, sharing updates, and liking each other’s dog videos? Good times. But then, they added Messenger, e-commerce, and Facebook Marketplace. Suddenly, we had no clue what Facebook actually was. Is it a networking app? A messaging app? An e-commerce app? Nobody really knew.
According to a survey conducted by ASCI, post the marketplace upgrade, Facebook showed a dramatic loss in user satisfaction and the site plummeted 6% to the industry’s bottom with an ACSI score of 63. Ouch!
As Facebook’s UX saturation became evident, users went for a simpler alternative, leading to the rise of Instagram. Instagram successfully captured the essence of what Facebook initially provided: a platform to connect, share, and engage visually. By focusing on its core strengths and delivering a streamlined user experience, Instagram attracted a significant user base and witnessed remarkable growth.
In 2022, Instagram surpassed Facebook in terms of daily active users, reaching 1.5 billion users worldwide (Source: Statista)
Flipkart’s Cluttered Marketplace: One-Stop Shop or One-Stop Headache?
Flipkart, the once-beloved online marketplace, took a detour down the road of UX saturation. It went from being the go-to place for online shopping to offering bill payments, groceries, and even movie ticket bookings. I mean, it’s doing EVERYTHING.
Is it a good thing? Well, yes; for customers looking for a one-stop shop experience, it’s definitely a game-changer. But don’t forget how messy and cluttered things can get when you try to sell anything and everything.
User retention rates on Flipkart declined by a whopping 25% an year after they ventured beyond online shopping.
Whatsapp: A UX Saturation victim in-the-making
A friend of mine recently spoke on social media about how the Whatsapp overwhelmed him.
“Whatsapp used to be just messaging. I used to love it. Today, I can’t find my mom’s last text to me. Instead, I have banks asking me if I want a loan” — he said.
With these continuous promotional messages, you start feeling your privacy is being invaded. You tend to miss the personalised conversations which are now replaced by business promotions and chatbots. While these offers and promotional messages can be blocked, it’s an unnecessary hassle.
The Real Question
The true question at the end of the day is - Are they bad products?
No, they’re really not. It’s great to always keep up with trends and retain your customers. These are all successful and unique businesses that set excellent benchmarks for the coming generations to surpass. But every business changes with time. The key take-away is how we can learn form their mistakes.
How can designers help businesses avoid UX Saturation?
User Experience Design plays a major role in understanding what businesses truly need to retain customers. Somewhere, designers do the mistake of not analysing what the user originally needed your product for. They must always go back to the roots of the product and recall it’s niche market. What problem of the customers did the product initially try to solve?
Here are some tips for UX Designers:
- Understand the product’s original purpose: Designers must continually revisit the core problem the product aimed to solve. This understanding helps prioritize essential features and avoid unnecessary additions that may overwhelm users.
- Conduct user research and feedback analysis: Regularly gather user insights through surveys, interviews, and usability testing. Analyze feedback to identify pain points, understand user needs, and make informed design decisions.
- Prioritize simplicity and usability: Simplicity should be at the forefront of design decisions. Streamline workflows, reduce cognitive load, and focus on intuitive interactions that align with users’ mental models.
- Iterative design and testing: Adopt an iterative design process that involves prototyping, testing, and refining. This approach ensures that new features align with user expectations and enhance the overall user experience.
Whether it’s building a product or a romantic relationship, ‘doing too much’ can ruin things pretty fast. It diminishes your value and leads to more pain when not reciprocated.
By recognising the importance of your user’s needs and prioritising simplicity, businesses can avoid overwhelming their users and remain focused on delivering a cohesive and valuable product experience. Staying true to the product’s original purpose while adapting to user needs will help maintain user satisfaction and ensure long-term success in an increasingly competitive market.
Remember, it’s not about being everything to everyone — it’s about being there for those who really need you. So, let’s keep our apps and love lives in check and avoid the perils of UX saturation!