Many large technology companies like Apple have invested heavily in user experience for many years. Successful companies have well-established UX departments and have set the standard for ease of use. Such companies have defined many aspects of the user-centered design process we follow today. These companies have the capital to make big investments in user experience and reap the benefits. They can attract the best talent, invest in resources, and take as much time as they need to develop elegant solutions.
But what if you are a small- or medium-size company? How much should you invest in user experience? How much can you invest?! Sure, you would love to develop elegant solutions like Apple, but you may not have the time or resources—or really even know where to begin. You can’t afford to make the wrong investment in an inappropriate resource or dedicate precious time to researching, validating, and testing your product’s UX design. You have to get your product to market fast and hope it delights your customers, but you’re happy if it just works and has the features you think it needs.
If you are a small- or medium-size company, you must balance your user experience investment against other company needs. Some companies have made user experience a part of their core corporate strategy and it has paid off for them. But you need to answer these questions in light of your own company’s needs: Where does user experience fit in your corporate strategy? Where does it belong in your organization? How does user experience integrate with a product’s overall life-cycle?
You must ask yourself: Is our marketplace mature, commoditized, and moving at the speed of large institutions, or is it new, innovative, and moving at the speed of the Internet?
Technology solutions in mature markets become commodities. Consumers take such products’ basic features and performance for granted; instead, they look at price, value, appearance, and convenience as distinguishing factors. Winning in mature markets requires a company to view user experience as a distinct and important corporate competence. To win in a mature marketplace, you must get the basics right—the right price, value, and convenience—along with providing an elegant solution that is effective, efficient, and exceeds customers’ expectations. User experience is the key to designing elegant solutions.
New markets are fast and innovative. You must be agile and adapt to rapid changes in your market space. This is where having a strong understanding of your product’s market and the needs of its target users are essential for you to have a chance at success.
This blog series is based on the article Winning in the Marketplace: How Much User Experience Effort Does It Take?