“Begin with the customer and work back to the technology” – Steve Jobs. These words immortalised by Steve Jobs was essentially what separated Apple’s strategy from most technology companies of its time.
Yet trying to understand customers is what businesses shy away from, quite possibly with good reason. Humans are notoriously hard to personify and build accurate archetypes for. The interpretation of user research analysis tends to be more an art than a hard science. To compound this problem, user research isn’t static either it changes all the time as customer usage patterns change all the time. Yet the effort to understand and user behaviour and consumer preferences is precisely what is needed for businesses looking to go beyond offering a service to connecting with their consumers.
For technology companies because of the relatively short product lifespans UX research can play a much bigger influence on product success and failure. Faced with changing customer patterns technology companies need to keep a closer eye on their customers and may need to pivot quickly to factor in new behaviour patterns. History is littered with products that had so much promise yet failed because of ignoring it’s crucial target, it’s customers and their habits. Some more recent examples of recent technology spikes are:
Augmented reality game that fed into mass hysteria and a herd mentality but couldn’t keep up momentum once the novelty wore off. Novelty is what keeps us addicted with Dopamine hits. Facebook user experience taps into this and more basic human needs from the human psychological need pyramid to brilliant effect. You won’t even realise that you’re addicted.
Google Glass V1
Novel as a technology but stepped on basic civil standards. This could well change in the future in new avatar for customers with a more defined use case but common citizens were just not ready for this level of intrusion.
Chat Bots V1
Heralded as the future of customer service but has struggled to make decent strides in conversational UX. It was hyped up to be a service good enough to replace a human but could not understand basic human nuances and intentions. Frustrated users abandoned it in droves. It will resurge sometime again in the future as more user experience researchers have begun contributing to R&D of the technology.
User experience discovery helps to mitigate when a new technology is ready for mass consumption. What made the iPhone such a success was it was a convergence of the painkillers that solved essential problems. It compacted many different technologies including the mobile, the laptop, the digital camera and the GPS into one single device. Most of the technology for the iPhone existed in one form or the other in different products. The value of the iPhone was the sum of all the problems it solved for consumers in a single device without compromising on its usability. Technology here was the means to the end, it was understanding the needs of its customer’s needs and delivering an optimal solution is what made the iPhone a winner for Apple.
It’s Steve Jobs greatest tribute to his philosophy of beginning with the customer.