Design Is A Key Differentiator

Design Is A Competitive Differentiator

Design is a key differentiator when creating products and customer experiences. While price matters, it is not the only criteria and sometimes irrelevant when making purchase decisions. As an example, I recently bought expensive earphones to listen to music on my cell phone and answer calls. While purchasing online was simple, setting up and using the product was challenging and time-consuming. It was not intuitive on how to pair the product with my blue tooth phone. I had to call customer care to get help before I was able to start enjoying my purchase. Once I finally accomplished the setup process, I encountered issues in using the earphones because the battery died within a few hours despite being fully charged overnight. To make a long story short, I ended up exchanging the product for a less costly brand that is designed for non-technical users and that also has a longer battery life. Price did not equate to better quality and higher satisfaction as one may expect.

I love how Seth Godin articulates this point in his recent blog post.

The triumph of everyday design

Luxury goods used to be better. Better than the alternatives.

The best-made clothing, the best saddle, the most reliable luggage. The top of the market was the place people who cared needed to go to buy something that had the highest performance.

Today, though, a Toyota is a better car than a Bentley. More efficient, more reliable. The Vertus phone was a joke, and no one needs a $200 mouse when a $9 one is faster and easier to use.

I spent some time at a high-end hotel on a recent gig. The light switches were complicated and didn’t work quite right. The door handle was awkward. The fancy faucets sprayed water on whoever was standing in front of the sink. All expensive, none of it very well-designed.

As materials have gotten cheaper and easier to find, it’s design that matters. And the market is demanding better design–which is easy to copy and easy to improve.

Expensive is not the relevant metric, utility is.

Read more about how User Experience Matters.

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