The brilliant Peter Merholz, author of the Adaptive Path recently did a speech in the UK talking about experience is always the product and the product which utilizes more experience than the rest will be the one which outsells them all. Peter, during his speech, was clearly trying avoid bringing the iPod into this but the simple fact is that there is no better product on the market today which made the most of experience-based design.
Now many of you may be thinking that the experience we are referring to is the sensory experience or the wow factor, perhaps even the experience of having something which others don’t, all of these are perhaps important when designing a product but that is not what we are referring to.
The experience being the product is about the use of the product, the ease by which we are able to use it, the intelligence which has gone into the design so that our fingers just know where to go, the inviting nature of the product and of course the mood and the emotional feeling which one gets when they are using a certain product.
Let’s take the iPod as an example, in truth it is perfection, change songs or scroll, you have this soft and supple wheel which just makes everything very simple. There are minimal buttons for minimal confusion and the design of the piece actually feels a little bit feng shui. What was the iPod designed for? It was designed for you to fill it up with music and take it with you so that you can enjoy that music as you go. The iPod is more than this however, it delivers on our basic needs of course, but beyond that Apple said ‘hang on, we’re going to give them that little extra, that 1% which separates us, we are going to make it easy for them to use the machine, accessible and we are going to make them feel better because they are using our product’. That is what going after the experience looks like.
The idea of creating the experience for the customer is not some new idea which companies have not yet understood, they all know it and the worst thing is that they are all trying to achieve it, their efforts however are sorely misguided. Why you may ask, do these companies not get what Apple get? The answer is that they are too caught up in themselves, they are so busy trying to catch up to other tech firms or create a product which is going to knock the attendees at SXSW on their asses that they lose sight of what the customer needs, not what they want, but what they need.
The sooner that companies get their heads out of their butts and put the onus back on the customer experience, the better that everyone will be, businesses and consumers alike.