Yes, Your Simple Product Will Be Copied and Sold at a Lower Price

Recognized startup names are starting to struggle. It seems that their competitors are catching up and eating away at their marketshare.

In most cases, it’s a strategy problem. Something absent in most American startups today. Most narrow, simple startups face the same risk — it’s just a matter of time before competitors duplicate their simple offerings at lower prices. In a world-wide market, this is a race between original ideas and duplicators. American startups can’t compete on price.

So, what can they do?

Differentiation through marketing could buy a bit of time, but the problem is deeper than what can be solved by promoting the offerings as they exist today.

Competitive Understanding

User experience can help, but only if these companies leverage quality user research to discover opportunities for significant innovation.

User research can be used as a strategic tool, focused on understanding the users better than your competition — it will yield better value when applied as an ongoing effort,  consistently, over time — rather than as a desperate, rushed, last-minute measure. (In other words, get started today — not tomorrow.)

The findings from quality user research, will lead the development of competitive functionality that will give these companies a true competitive edge.

The question is, will these companies innovate, chicken-out and “pivot” or — unfortunately, a common tactic — rush to IPO before investors notice they’re doomed?

Let me know if you have any questions or you need help with strategic user research: info@DanMontano.com

Why Your Software Updates Makes Your Users Angry

It’s important that we become conscious of the effects our development process have on our users. We often get caught up on (our own)  excitement of creating, inventing and getting things done! But we ignore how these actions affect the users.

From our side, we are happy! We worked hard,. Struggled against deadlines. We got the new features done! We leave the office and celebrate! (Exterior shots. Exciting loud background music playing. UX folks and Developers are dancing on the streets, out-of-focus urban lights, cars driving by, lots of “motion blur”, bar and dance club interiors, everyone smiling, life is great!!

Meanwhile…Cut to.Our User’s Offices

(Interior shot) – It’s  dark. Lights flicker. Mostly quiet, except for the sound of sporadic  sobbing. Some people are slumped on their chairs, their faces banging on their desktops. Some are pulling their hair. Zoom into the clock. It says 7:30pm on a Friday night. A phone rings. It’s a man’s wife asking why he’s not at Tiffanie’s ballet performance. Tiffanie is crying in the background. She’ll be scarred for life! A woman sadly cancels a dinner date. Some haven’t had lunch nor dinner because of all the extra work they just discovered today they have to do thanks to that damn software update!

Every time you update your application, you are changing how your users work with your application.

– You are confusing the users
– You’re making the application harder to learn
– You are wasting your user’s time because they already have found a workflow that they like. When you change their workflow they have to   reconfigure their established process
– Sometimes they have to update training materials and retrain staff
– If the users have integrated the application into an automatic workflow (via APIs) – you have created more work for them

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Simply designing and pushing things out is not good enough. You have to look at the bigger picture and see how the changes will affect the users.

So, while everyone is happy, celebrating the new release, it becomes harder than usual to look beyond our collective excitement — and this is why this type of problem persists. No one likes to be the party pooper. So people ignore the issue and joins the celebration.

Unfortunately/Fortunately, UX folks have to practice empathy and advocate for the end users.

Yes. Sometimes UX folks have to bring up bad news, like:

Software updates don’t exist in a vacuum — (the way we like to pretend user stories do) — they have real world repercussions!

Yes. UX folks are total downers and party poopers! It’s part of our job. : )

We love you developers and product managers. We really do. Don’t be sad and angry.  We are doing this for the greater good.  You can thank us later.

If it helps, we have to suffer along with you. I mean, who likes to think of “new” user scenarios. Maybe we can “collaborate” ourselves out of having to do anything by saying something like: “How could we possibly know which of these scenarios are really happening?”.

This is where user research comes in.

No user research? Well, now you know at least one place where you’ll have to pay for the lack of it.

What? Have another beer? Sure! Hey…wait…what was I saying?

(Cut to UX folks and developers dancing the night away.)

 

Problem Solving is Easy – Once You Figure This Out

Problem solving is easy once you:

Identify the right problem to solve. You’d be surprised how often we attempt to solve the wrong problem. This way we waste an alarming amount of time and resources (millions, easily!).

Understand the problem. Understanding the problem is a challenge because the way a problem is perceived depends on who’s looking at it.

Understand the kind of problems your solution will create. Every solution creates new problems. If you don’t think there will be any problems — you don’t really understand the problem you’re solving.

Identify the right tools and processes to solve the problem. A common mistake is that people walk around with tools on hand and try to find problems to fix. People who do this are doing things backwards. To paraphrase a common saying: “When you have a hammer on hand, all the problems look like nails”.

When Should I Use Interactive Prototypes?

Interactive prototypes help us gather feedback from users. We are able to put users before simulations of our solutions and we can watch where users experience, uncertainty, anxiety, frustration or confusion.

Prototypes help us find problem areas so that we can improve our designs before developer teams spend time developing them.

Sometimes, the features we work on are simple, familiar to most users and the risks of users having problems are very low. In these cases we don’t need to prototype.

There are many other cases, when using interactive prototypes is recommended:

– When the flow has high risks
– When the flow is longer than a few simple steps
– When the flow introduces new concepts or new terminology
– When you’re introducing significant change to a well-established and familiar flow
– When the flow requires users to navigate extensively
– When the task requires that users interact with different systems and applications
– When the task requires that users move from online to off-line processes
– When the users experience lots of interruptions while attempting to meet their goal
– When the flow includes a significant amount of moving interfaces
– When the user interface attempts to be more simple and minimal

If you need help with the creation of interactive prototypes or you could use other help — get in touch: info@DanMontano.com

The “UX Developer” a Flashback to the Pre-UX Era of the “Web Designer”

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” – George Santayana

Reminder.

UX emerged because we realized that “Web Designers” and “Webmasters”, who were tasked with designing and developing websites and applications — had a conflict of interest.

They could design and develop something better — but why?  Why would they want to create more work for themselves?

This conflict of interest is real and it’s back with the trend of the “UX Developer”, which is nothing more than a return to the role of the “Web Designer”.

(I do have to give them a point for the clever inclusion of “UX” in the job title. It’s idealistic. I’m sure whoever came up with it meant well. )

Wearable Interfaces Require Text Con…

 

I’m seeing more user interfaces on wearable devices that have poor usability due to a lack of consideration for the copy they display.

If you thought text restrictions standard mobile user interfaces posed a challenge — then you’ll love the challenges that wearable UI’s pose.

Copy writers, or better yet, user interface writers need to find ways to convey as much key information as possible in a few characters.

Wearable devices require that we ask ourselves:

  • What is the most important part of the message we’re trying to communicate?
  • Can we summarize the message in one or two words — in a useful way?
  • How will language translation affect the display of critical messaging?
  • Is it possible to encourage users to write text in a way that follows best practices?

The text restrictions force user interaction designers, user interface writers, content strategists and human factors engineers to ask themselves a bigger question:

Given the user interface restrictions, what are the viable experiences afforded by such devices ?




DMDaniel Montano: User Experience and Product Manager. Designs products and services that are easier to use. Follow me on Twitter: @DanielMontano  Email: info@DanMontano.com |


 

Managing Complex Change (Diagram)

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When you introduce new features, products, workflows or even optimizations to them, you introduce change.

I’ve seen all of these scenarios within organizations and within end-user groups.

It’s interesting how more than one of these scenarios can be part of a single project (at different times, different areas or in different groups).

So, the real scenarios can be compounded and at least twice as complex as this diagram shows.

This diagram helps to visualize the typical risk areas. Understanding them is key to effective planning and execution.

info@DanMontano.com

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