We’re all selling experiences

Your product is only as good as how it makes people feel

Photo by Josh FeliseUnsplash

This is Part 1 of a 6-part series where we share everything that went into building our product at Crew. Privacy be damned. Building Crew in Public is not just filled with glory. It’s filled with the struggles and doubt we faced creating a product from scratch.


Design is more important now than it ever has been, according to Medium and Twitter founder Ev Williams.

As technology evolves, core infrastructure becomes a commodity and how you differentiate your product moves from delivering features that are good enough to get the job done, to delivering an experience while getting the job done.

To illustrate this perspective, here’s a graphic from a Harvard Business Review article written by two product experience consultants, Joseph Pine II and James Gilmore:

Over 16 million websites are added to the web a day.

Over 1,000 mobile apps are submitted to the app store a week.

(And these are 2015 numbers!)

As more and more software gets built, design is becoming increasingly important for your product to stand out. The right features mixed with your product’s design must create an experience. That’s what will differentiate you.

Thus far, at Crew, our external marketing projects have been a core contributor to our growth.

But external marketing cannot be the only driver of growth. Our product must also propel growth to substantially impact our business long-term.

And if substantial growth is going to come from a product, the product must be much better than any alternative option.

In his book, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, author Nir Eyal, writes,

“Many innovations fail because consumers irrationally overvalue the old while companies irrationally overvalue the new.” So when you release a new product for consumers, you have to be at least nine times better than the previous alternatives in order to have a chance to get users switching from the old product they were using to your product.”

For your product to get the attention of your customers, it can’t just be a little better than the current alternatives.

It must be substantially better.

An order of magnitude better.

Attention is the reward of simplicity

In his book on building habit-forming products, Nir also shared a perspective on how to think about building products people want to use. It’s called theFogg Behavioral Model and was created by Stanford computer scientist, B. J. Fogg:

The Fogg Behavior Model illustrates that the best path to get more people using your product is to make your product easier to use.

If you make your product simpler, you increase the probability of your customers crossing the “Activation Threshold” and performing the behavior.

Nir notes,

“Influencing behaviour by reducing the effort required to perform an action is more effective than increasing someone’s desire to do it. Make your product so simple that users already know how to use it, and you’ve got a winner.”

In our case, we knew that we needed to make our own product simpler. Simpler to start. Simpler to stay.

So often we think doing more is what will create impact. But often it’s doing less that’s much more signficant.

Building Crew in Public

Privacy be damned. Building Crew in Public is a series of 6 short essays on product design philosophy and the struggles we faced designing our own product. You can read the original, On The Road-inspired version on the Crew Backstage blog.

1. You Are Here

2. Start with problems. Not solutions.

3. Constraints, not barriers

4. Ask lots of questions

5. Anatomy of a homepage

6. The journey is more important than the destination: Designing the optimal onboarding flow

P.S. The new Crew

We recently went through this process again for a brand new version of our product at Crew. You can read all about it here.