Making a business case for user experience

aka start to humanise your product and make a boat load more money

We see a wide range of clients here at Man & Moon — from entrepreneurs looking to break into the digital sphere, to developed companies looking to revamp their online presence. Regardless of development stage, one part of our job remains the same: strategising the success of one digital product amidst a trove of others.

This differentiation is essential in digital business, as original ideas are somewhat of a fallacy. As creative leadership author Scott Berkun puts it, “ideas are made of other ideas. Pick a song, an invention, a philosophy… they are all recombinations of other ideas.” Even products made by Apple, the industry standard for innovation, can be broken down into an aggregation of adopted parts.

So when a client told us, “we want to model after Airbnb — they know what they’re doing,” it caused us to step back and think: how did these world renowned companies cross the line from just another archetypal idea, to a successful, lucrative business?

Our answer? User experience.

The commonality between businesses like Apple and Airbnb is that they pay attention to their users. When you as an innovator stop thinking about making something new and start thinking about using something new, you humanise your product. Understanding the way in which people think and react to technology allows you to catch usability roadblocks early and often. The ability to iterate in this way makes a quantifiable difference, as 70% of projects fail due to lack of user acceptance.

Airbnb was almost part of this statistic, until they came to the same conclusion we did. Co-founder Joe Gebbia started using his own product, and discovered a simple roadblock right there and then. The low-quality photos on Airbnb listings were not conducive to gaining user trust and understanding. Gebbia’s solution to the problem was to offer a professional photo service to their customers — and by implementing it, he single handedly doubled the company’s revenue in one week. Airbnb differentiated itself with an innovative solution, and continued iteration helped the company go from a failing startup to $10 billion valuation.

When you as an innovator stop thinking about making something new and start thinking about using something new, you humanise your product.

The web designers at Amazon experienced a similar epiphany when they noticed their own roadblock: users often started the checkout process, but an alarming number failed to complete it. A simple user test revealed that by requiring users to login or register before entering payment information, Amazon hadn’t encouraged any sort of engagement within the process or trust in the brand — and therefore users were less likely to commit. After changing this user flow, Amazon calculated that they had been missing out on $300 million of revenue.

So what can we learn from these examples? Firstly, changing your company name to a word that starts with ‘A’ is a good move. Secondly, the benefits of prioritizing UX are twofold: saving money and making money. Taking the time in the beginning of the design process to seek out usability errors costs you significantly less than it would to fix the same problems after development. Further, knowing your users and implementing features with them in mind helps to foster engagement and trust in your service. This purposeful design method helps to lead users where you want them to go — resulting in success for your product.

We’re not saying that your idea isn’t revolutionary or full of potential. We’re just making a case for the secret to digital business success. With UX as the Robin to your entrepreneurial Batman, the next guy will be talking about you as the one who ‘knows what they’re doing’.


Citations

  • Berkun, Scott. ‘All Ideas Are Made Of Other Ideas’. 2011. Web. 9 Nov. 2015.
  • Forrester Research
  • Firstround.com. ‘How Design Thinking Transformed Airbnb From A Failing Startup To A Billion Dollar Business’. N.p., 2015. Web. 9 Nov. 2015.
  • Spool, Jared. ‘The $300 Million Button’. Uie.com. 14 Jan., 2009. Web. 9 Nov. 2015.