As industries progress and innovate throughout their customer experience, new standards — or ‘status quo’ — emerge. Customers get acquainted with those standards, and eventually expect (and even ‘demand’) a similar experience from other organizations.
At the same time, companies want to differentiate themselves from competition by offering unique, brand driven experiences that are not found elsewhere. This, in a way, sets a paradox: customers expect certain known ‘common experience patterns’, yet simultaneously expect to be wowed, amazed and engaged by unique experiences.
Raising the bar: setting a new standard
Think, for a second, about the way Amazon introduced ‘people like you also bought ..’ and the easy way of checking your order status, real-time. Maybe they weren’t the first, but they sure set the bar for the big players out there for check-out and order tracking.
Other examples include the standards Apple has set for product on-boarding and product packaging. Opening and booting up a new iPhone has never been easier, and competitors have no choice but following. And let’s not forget the great, awesome way Apple designed its Music app on-boarding, a while ago.
LinkedIn and DuoLingo have done a great job improving the ‘profile completion’ challenge and using gamification to stimulate action. DuoLingo is very heavily focused on use of medals and awards for unlocking new language levels:
Or consider how LinkedIn uses gamification:
The list goes on.. and on.
Of course, the list goes on and on. As a matter of fact, all services and products ever created by mankind have in some way raised the bar for upcoming generations (and their entrepreneurs). For example, the invention of the round wheel, around 3500 BC, was obviously an absolute game changer (best invention ever?). After that, nobody was eager going to back manually carrying heavy loads on their backs — and how could you blame them!?
The point for the purpose of this post, however, is a bit closer to home: innovative organizations set standards for macro- and micro-interactions and experiences, leaving competition to follow these newly formed design standards.
“innovative organizations set standards for macro- and micro-interactions and experiences, leaving competition to follow these newly formed design standards.”
Hygiene factors or: getting ‘on par’
Often, when I speak to decision makers in corporate organizations, the subject of innovation pops up. Questions like these, are almost always discussed:
- ‘What can we learn from best-practices in the market and how should we use them?’
- ‘What features do we need to prioritize?’
- ‘How will we allocate our budget and will we achieve our milestones in time?’
- ‘How can we strengthen our brand by improving our experience?’
- ‘How are we truly claiming a unique position in the market, becoming the purple cow amidst the white and black ones?’
And so, this raises the question: what are must haves, and what are nice to haves when improving your brand? What are ‘hygiene factors’ — or things that people will expect from you, regardless — and what are ‘differentiating factors’, that will really set your apart from the rest?
To go short: where do we need to get ‘on par’ with the rest, and where are we going the extra mile?
Pick your battles
The answer is quite straightforward: do a ‘smart copy paste’ of features and journeys that will not be key differentiators for your brand. Things like easy on-boarding, registration, the use of gamification to complete a profile or activate users are very important, but will not set apart your brand from others. These are so-called ‘hygiene factors’: things you have to have in order at the bare minimum, as users expect them and as they have become globally accepted design patterns.
At the other hand, you want to differentiate your brand from competition. Questions like:
- What do we stand for?
- What’s our message to the world?
- What are our USPs?
Are not solved by implementing common, generalized design patterns. Rather, these questions require you to thoroughly research your customers and come up with value adding features that truly shake the market. As such, this is where you want to invest time, resources and design efforts to truly create something special, new to the world.
So pick you battles, analyze what features can be an ‘easy copy paste’ and which features you want to give love and energy.
This article was published by Umvel. We help challengers design, build and scale their business.