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In marketing, the “curse of knowledge” is a phenomenon where some marketers struggle to sell to buyers because they know their product too well. The marketer can’t convey the benefits in a way that the buyer understands and appreciates because they can’t see things from the less knowledgeable buyer’s perspective.
Product creators deal with a similar issue. They have a vision for what they want their product to be, and they understand it inside and out.
It’s not a bad thing for product creators to love their products. Unfortunately, their perspective is not that important compared to what the customer thinks.
Ultimately, the customer is the one paying you for your product. Thus, you must design your product in a way that maximizes their experience — even if it comes at a small expense to your vision.
In this article, we’ll provide an overview of how solid product design improves your customer’s experience. We’ll cover the differences between customer experience and user experience, review some core components of a good user experience, then provide several tips for designing a product that offers an excellent experience for the customer.
First: What is product design?
Product design is simply finding a solution to a problem.
It involves finding a gap in the market needing to be filled, discovering and defining what problem that gap leaves for the customer, creating a solution (the product) to fix that problem, then testing and validating the solution in the market.
Customer Experience vs. User Experience
Customer experience and user experience are sometimes used interchangeably. They’re pretty similar, but they aren't exactly the same.
In the past, UX dealt with every single detail involving someone’s interactions with an organization.
With the advent of the Internet, however, distinctions had to be made. UX’s definition zoomed in on a customer’s action with a specific product. The customer is a “user” of the product, after all, but not a “user” of your company. They’re a “customer” of your company.
Thus, CX replaced UX’s original position as a catch-all for every experience a customer has with your company.
In short, UX is a part of the broader CX now.
Products that are designed well are easy and enjoyable to use — thus, they have good UX. Good UX naturally improves CX. Therefore, good product design can significantly improve the customer’s experience.
Good UX: Some core components
The following are some vital components to good UX.
Product design starts before you’ve even determined what the product will be.
First and foremost, you’re aiming to solve a problem that the user has. Being able to see things from the customer’s point of view is a difficult task, yet it’s one of the most important in creating a strong user experience.
The key to getting this right is to know your customer inside and out — and deep research is how you get there.
With your research, you can create customer personas, which are fictional representations of your ideal customers. Your buyer personas lay out everything you need to know regarding needs, wants, problems, and pain points.
With buyer personas in hand, you can begin developing a product that solves exactly what the customer is suffering from. You can ensure it has only the features the customer needs.
Of course, you also need to consider your business objectives when designing a product with UX in mind. That could be growth or profits, or both.
Fortunately, meeting customer needs will often go most of the way toward meeting your business objectives. If you solve the customer’s problem, they’ll buy from you and help you hit those business goals.
This UX principle is informed by the previous two. You should avoid adding any features to your product that do not meet customer needs, fulfill your business objectives, or (ideally) both at the same time. Your product should keep things as lean as possible, only adding features that improve the product’s primary function.
On the customer side, unrelated elements or features can be distracting and even make it harder for them to use. If the feature doesn’t address your customer’s needs, don’t add it.
On the business objectives side, it’ll also make the product more expensive to produce without an accompanying revenue increase, which harms your profits.
Take a look at document signing software PandaDoc, for example. It deals with a very specific problem, document management.
PandaDoc only has a few features, such as eSignatures, document templates, and document automation, but they’re all directly relevant to the customer’s problem of dealing with documents. There’s nothing in there that distracts from the product’s purpose.
Customer research and persona creation is a vital starting point for good UX. However, nothing can replace real feedback from customers.
Ideally, you want to get a finished product — your minimum viable product or MVP — out into the market as fast as possible. In doing so, you can validate the product and quickly gather feedback about everything pertaining to it, including UX.
Companies that do this can stay lean in their product design and development while ensuring their product offers a solution to the customer’s problem.
Tips to improve product design for a better customer experience
Follow these tips to improve product design and subsequently enhance UX and CX.
As mentioned earlier, one of the most crucial parts of the product design process is thorough research. You have to know your customers as well as (or even better than) they know themselves. Knowing their wants, needs, and problems informs your initial product design efforts.
There are plenty of ways to conduct deep research on your customers.
Using this research, you can create your ideal buyer personas, which will inform all of your design decisions going forward.
More efficient workflows create better products in less time. This leads to faster validation and feedback as well as improved revenue customer satisfaction. This both meets the customers’ needs and accomplishes your business objectives.
Conduct a workflow analysis of your product design process to identify tasks that take the most time. Look for inefficiencies in them. You’ll be able to cut out redundancies, saving time, money, and other resources. Investing in workflow management software can also help streamline your activities and optimize efficiency. Additionally, implement the concept of workflow mapping to visualize your processes from start to finish, so that you are in a better position to improve them.
A quality management system is simply a group of processes aimed at keeping the customer experience consistent while exceeding expectations.
It allows you to isolate what the customer’s needs are. Then, you can design products that meet those needs and are enjoyable to use.
The best way to create a QMS is to use QMS software. This type of software solution makes it easy to build out a visual representation of your QMS. Then you can follow it and make tweaks if needed.
The more information you provide to customers about your product’s functionality, the better. They’ll be able to decide upfront if it’s right for them. If it is, they’ll come into the product knowing a bit more about it.
For example, look at what the route planner app Track-POD does on its website.
First, there’s a screenshot of the app at the top with a CTA button, followed by clear benefits the product will bring to the user. Plus, there’s a button asking the user to try it for free. Track-POD might be using that as a clever way to sell customers on its product while gathering feedback.
Below that is a comparison table of Track-POD’s product vs. traditional versions.
Providing a comparison table or comparison infographic makes it easy to understand what features the product offers while also helping you sell the customer on its benefits.
Further on, Track-POD offers some real-world challenges its route planning software can solve. Explaining how the software solves these problems helps the customer imagine how they might be able to use it. That’s how you create optimized content.
Finally, toward the bottom of the home page, Track-POD walks the customer through the exact process for setting up the software in a simple, attractive format.
When put together, Track-POD has a remarkable homepage that shows how the product addresses the customer’s needs and wants in several ways — all in a great design.
You could go a step further and show multiple photos or screenshots of the product in action. Take a look at what InFlow does for its barcode software.
Notice how InFlow shows actual pictures of its product. That's an excellent addition to the user experience because it gives the user a glimpse at the product in action before trying it. It helps them determine if InFlow is right for them.
Additionally, the copy next to the images provides context about what you can do with InFlow. This improves user experience on the website itself — but it also helps the user understand how to use the product faster when they get it.
Remember that getting your product in front of live customers as early as possible is key. Doing so lets you validate your product and gain that initial feedback.
A tried-and-true method for doing this would be to hold a beta or a closed product launch after you’ve completed the core features of a product.
When you do this, try to select testers who will give you the most honest feedback.
No matter how amazing your product design is, customers are going to have questions or need help. The easier you make it to solve any problems they run into, the better experience you will have.
Thus, you should make support as accessible as possible.
Beyond having guides, FAQs, and tutorial explainer videos, consider creating chatbots for customer service that can serve these resources to customers on autopilot with a tool like Engati.
Many users will be able to solve basic problems or questions fast with these support resources. However, for more complex inquiries, human agents should be easy to reach as well.
Once you gain initial feedback, you can make improvements by implementing that feedback to create the next iteration. Then you can test it out in the market again.
Even after you formally launch your product, you can continue to make improvements as you receive customer input.
Don’t just get feedback on what’s there, though. Seek recommendations for new features and functionality from your customers (both in beta testing and when the product is live). They may have great ideas that would have never crossed your mind.
One of the easiest ways to get a constant stream of feedback is to create a chatbot with a platform like Engati. Just program your bot with a few simple instructions to collect input and receive recommendations. You’ll have plenty of material come to you on autopilot.
You may also consider creating a customer advisory panel to help you stay on top of customers. This is a group of customers that regularly convenes to keep you updated on market trends and changes in customer wants and needs.
In terms of website design, you should have a clean website so that it is as easy as possible for your customer to take action. That means placing calls-to-action in as many relevant places as possible — usually after each section on your web page.
By sprinkling calls-to-action throughout the page, you minimize any scrolling your customer has to do. After all, customers may have different objections — each section of copy might convert different customers. No matter what part of the page they’re on, there should be a button right in front of them.
Take a look at the lead scoring software Breadcrumbs’ website as a fine example of this concept at work.
See how Breadcrumbs placed a CTA after every single section of its website. No matter which copy section pushes a customer over the edge, they have a button to sign up right there.
Also, notice how the last image provided clear instructions on how to start using the lead scoring software with Hubspot directly above the CTA. These instructions make it even more straightforward for the customer, creating a better website experience.
Focus on Customer Experience and the Rest Will Follow
As nice as it feels to create a product you’re proud of, the customer is the ultimate judge of whether that product is a good one. It has to be useful to them, above all else, the main objective of an agile project management way of working.
Make certain that you’re considering your customer’s wants and needs alongside your own business objectives. Then design a product that accomplishes both by adhering to some core UX concepts. Following the tips above should help you get there.