One of my friends owns a meal prep delivery service called Bite that ships over 12,000 meals a week to hungry athletes, body builders, health nuts and busy young professionals.
A few days back, he shared with me that his startup was currently in the midst of redesigning their website.
At first, I wasn’t too surprised. After all, brands redesign their websites constantly. But, when he told me the price he was paying for the redesign… my jaw dropped.
While I am not going to disclose the number publicly, let’s just say it has a handful of zeros.
I think he could tell I was a bit taken aback, and before I could speak up to give my two cents (pun intended), he explained his reasoning behind the large investment––
“I know Cole, it’s a big number. But, you need to realize that we don’t have a physical store location… our website is our store location. Physical retailers invest thousands and thousands of dollars in their stores because they want the customer to have a good experience (and ultimately buy) –– a website is no different.”
Now, before we continue, take a moment to think about what this young entrepreneur said. If you have to, read through the above excerpt again –– it sets the foundation for today’s conversation.
What is UX & why is it important?
At 24-years old, my friend has learned something that many business owners never do, and that’s the importance of UX (User Experience).
For those of you who don’t know, UX is how easy and pleasurable a website, application, product or service is to use. The reason UX is so important is because when it is done exceptionally well, two things happen…
Thing 1 –– Customers exchange their hard earned money for your product or service.
Thing 2 –– Customers tell their friends and family about your product or service.
While user experience is only applicable to the virtual world, it has quite a few similarities to customer experience.
A correlation my friend brought to my attention during the conversation I mentioned previously––
“… physical retailers invest thousands and thousands of dollars in their stores because they want the customer to have a good experience (and ultimately buy) — a website is no different.”
To fully understand what makes for a well-designed or even an extraordinary user experience, we must look to its physical counterpart –– customer experience. Keep reading and I will share with you a brand that is completely disrupting the shoe industry through an unmatched in-store customer experience.
Wait, how is wool extraordinary?
Allbirds is a brand I have been following for a while –– their mission is to create the world’s most comfortable shoes made 100% from wool. Before opening up stores in San Francisco and New York City, they sold strictly through their website –– offering a product that wasn’t only stunning to the eye but soft as… well wool.
Since becoming a physical retailer, it is safe to say they have successfully created a world class customer experience.
While the design is simple and minimal, the Allbirds stores look totally different from other shoe stores ––
Instead of carpeted floors, they went with hardwood.
Instead of uncomfortable benches, they went with soft seating… (not sure what you call those chairs).
Instead of catalogs and cash registers, they went with touch screens.
Instead of blaring stadium style overhead lights, they relied more on natural lighting.
And yes, that’s a giant human hamster wheel for visitors to walk on. While they could have gone with a treadmill… is that really an experience?
The sacred duo of extraordinary experience
Allbirds has done two things exceptionally well when it comes to customer experience, both of which can be applied to creating an extraordinary user experience.
1. Simplicity — not allowing the experience to take away from the product.
They aren’t overly flashy. While yes, flashy can certainly provide a great customer experience, it is by no means essential.
Providing an extraordinary in-store experience is about making the transition from Point A (Customer Interest) to Point B (Transaction) as effortless as possible. While Allbirds stores are like nothing we have ever seen before, they have been designed simplistically so that the focus remains on the product –– the shoe.
2. Disruption — taking a look at the standard experience offered in your industry and doing a complete 180.
Just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t necessarily mean it is working. The reason most brands don’t create innovative customer experiences is because they want to be certain it will work.
If you’re a brand that wants to always be certain, you will never create an extraordinary customer experience –– because ultimately an extraordinary customer experience is only achieved when taking a customer to an unknown place.
Think about Apple going from dozens of buttons on a cellphone to just one. It was both a disruptive and uncertain move that took the consumer to an unknown place –– a place they never new they wanted to go. Some might even have called the move stupid. Turns out, Apple successfully set the standard for user experience in regards to smartphones.
How simplicity and disruption makes for an extraordinary UX
Now, when we take a look at the two aspects that make for an extraordinary in-store customer experience (Simplicity & Disruption)… we can clearly see they are easily transferrable to user experience.
Below, you will find a brand that has created an extraordinary UX through simplicity and disruption.
When I think of simplicity and disruption, I think Harry’s –– a startup disrupting a $17 billion industry through simplification.
For those of you who don’t know, Harry’s is the “shaving company that is fixing shaving”.
They got their start by looking to an old industry lead by old giants and thought to themselves, “Is there not a simpler way to go about getting men quality inexpensive shaving supplies?”
This thought is what eventually lead them to start Harry’s. Today, they sell razors directly to their customers online and deliver them right to their doorstep… oh, and for half the cost of their competitors.
Being that Harry’s store front is their website, they have made UX a key focus to their business model –– a customer can have a product purchased and shipped to their home in less than 5–6 clicks and in just $3 –– that’s simple and it is disruptive. What other razors companies provide a good shave for just $3… WITHOUT the customer even having to leave the house?
5 questions to ask when building UX into your product, service, application or website
I am a creative copywriter that works with startups on saying something that people actually want to read. And, with that, I obviously have a different perspective when it comes to UX.
While I would certainly take a UX designer’s recommendation over my own, I do believe copy plays a instrumental role in user experience.
I understand that Simplicity and Disruption are two rather broad recommendations in regards to UX, so I wanted to pass along a few question I believe could help brands add to their user experience.
If I were going about creating an extraordinary user experience, here are a few questions I would be asking myself ––
- How can I cut the copy for this product, service, application or website down by 50%… while still making it easy for the user to go from interest to transaction?
- How can I cut back on the number of clicks it takes to go from landing on the website to actually buying the product?
- How can I make the experience pleasurable and easy without taking away from the actual product or service I am selling? Obviously sometimes the user experience is the actual product (Twitter, Instagram, Robinhood, etc.)
- If the customer doesn’t buy on their first visit, how can I continue to provide them value until they eventually do buy? (Hint: Email).
- How can I create a extraordinary impression on the prospective user across all social media channels? In other words… when they look my brand up on Instagram, LinkedIn, Medium, etc… will this add to their interest in buying my product or take away from it? (Hint: sometimes it’s better to do one social media platform really well than to do 10 just okay).
Lastly, here are a few brands that have extraordinary user experience
Thanks so much for reading. Lastly, I wanted to leave you with a few brands to check out that have extraordinary user experience.
The Hustle (Email)
Basecamp (Landing Page)
By Cole Schafer.