Seizing Opportunity in the User Journey

I recently finished listening to an episode of NPR’s podcast “How I Built This”, in which host Guy Raz speaks with Instagram founders Kevin Systrom & Mike Krieger about their journey in building one of the world’s most prominent social media platforms.

image via How I Built This Is

The Instagram story isn’t super atypical as far as founding stories go. Two guys work hard outside of their day-jobs to learn a new skill (coding). They tinker and create their first app, then after gaining some support from an investor, go “all in” in refining the idea and making it work.

Kevin and Mike seem to have stumbled upon a great idea, been in the right place at the right time, and happened to do all the right things to make Instagram successful. Even with a number of setbacks in scaling the app, they grew exponentially. To some, it might appear that these two were extremely lucky. And although the two don’t deny getting lucky, they assert that becoming lucky doesn’t mean anything if you can’t recognize luck and run with it.

In the episode, Guy asks Kevin and Mike, “How much of what happened to you guys was luck?”

To which Kevin replies, “I’d say 50%. Actually, I have this thesis that the world runs on luck, the question is what you do with it…. everyone gets lucky for some amount in their life, the question is, are you alert enough to know you’re becoming lucky? Are you talented enough to take that advantage luck and run with it? Do you have enough grit do you have enough resilience to stay with it when it gets hard?”

Given this perspective, it’s the ability to wield opportunity into results that separates successful founders from not-so-successful founders.

What does this mean for User-Experience Design?

In UX design, we consider a certain type of user and their journey towards conversion (purchasing a product, downloading an app, etc.). We then consider the mediascape surrounding this user’s journey, and use our knowledge about the user to recognize opportunities in our design.

The results: optimizing the user experience, selling a product more effectively and creating brand loyalty after a conversion takes place. Having the ability to recognize opportunities in a user journey and create appropriate solutions is everything for the UX designer.

Most recently, we’ve been exploring opportunities in the user journey to create brand loyalty.

At the end their journey, the user either became a conversion or they didn’t. In either case, there is opportunity. If they didn’t convert, how can we bring them back into our funnel and address the reasons they didn’t convert?

If they did convert, how can we seize this opportunity to create brand loyalty? The “luck” of finding opportunity in the user journey does not necessitate UX design success, but the ability to recognize these opportunities and properly execute solutions might.

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