First Class User Experience

27. January 2021

The subtle differences between just usable and first-class user experience

Describing the usage experience – that is, the experience before, during and after using a product – in the analogue world in a concrete and comprehensible way is a challenge in itself. It becomes more difficult when it comes to the usage experience of a normal product compared to a premium product. Mostly, interviewed users can only describe the experience of the premium product as “simply special” or “somehow better”.

How do you create a premium user experience of apps or software in the digital world? Unlike in the analogue world, many experiences are missing here, e.g. haptic and sensory experiences that make use better or special. How do you give your digital products a first class user experience?

This article will help you to recognise this small but subtle difference and give you inspiration on how your software could be even better.

It starts even before use

Seeing more than just the main task

Whether analogue or digital products, they all have one main task in common. A hammer is used to hammer in nails. But if we were to limit ourselves to that, there would hardly be so many different types of hammers. And many people who work with hammers every day would not use special, high-priced premium products.

An app primarily provides the user with information or enables the control of an external device. Apps that are limited to this main task only bring a pure limitation to the basic task. They do what they are supposed to do, but really only exactly that. Therefore, their use does not really feel good, which is ultimately reflected in app ratings and thus indirectly in sales figures.

Simply offer something more

Let’s stay with the example of a hammer. Of course, there are many distinguishing features here. Let’s assume that there are two absolutely identical ones to choose from, but one comes with a belt loop for free. Then the question is not really what the potential buyer would choose. Extra service or an add-on at no extra cost for the buyer decide whether to buy the competitor’s product.

These factors also play a big role in apps or digital services. This does not necessarily have to happen after the purchase of the product. For example, offering personal support can be important even with a free product (before the decision to use it is made). Discounts for multiple purchases or the “concession” of goodies can also decide for or against. The basic rule here is to simply offer something more than the competitor. However, the added value offered should also fit the target and user group.

Clothes make the man

It is a fact that most people are visually oriented and tend to be superficial. We often form a first impression based on what we see. This first impression thus also influences our purchase decision. When buying a rather expensive new car, a negative impression of the sales staff can lead us to choose a different product or at least a different car dealer.

Salespeople of particularly high-value products often appear a little fancier and especially well-groomed, so that the customer feels valued. The same applies to potential customers of apps and digital services – regardless of whether it is a free or a purchased product. Users are always customers, so they should be treated with appropriate importance. This ranges from customer service in response time to a question, to the quality of language/translation, to offering personal contact in the form of a phone call.


Personal and proactive

In the premium segment, it is common across all industries to have a direct and personal contact person. Prospective buyers of premium products are already assigned a personal sales consultant during the consultation. With some manufacturers, it even goes so far that the customer knows the name of the responsible master car mechanic who was responsible for installing the engine in the vehicle.

In the meantime, personal email contact between customers and advisors also takes place for support and advice for apps and software. Often, this contact person is also available by phone, chat or messenger service. Being known by name by the potential customer creates a feeling of “personal care”. This also offers companies starting points to accelerate the purchase decision and, if necessary, to improve it afterwards.

Look-AND-feel – the look is not everything

Let’s look at a biro. Its main task is to write. Nevertheless, there are cheap and expensive ballpoint pens on the market. In addition to brand, ergonomics and ink system, an important characteristic of this product is how it feels in the hand. The feel, the surface texture, the way the workmanship feels distinguish normal products from premium pens.

Admittedly, the haptic feel of software is rather difficult, yet in this context one speaks of the so-called look-and-feel. If you ask users what is decisive about apps or programmes, they often talk about how they “feel”. Criteria here are often the visual impression, but also actually perceived aspects such as ease of use, comprehensibility, error tolerance and available help.

Learning from the analogue world for the digital

As you can see, we can learn a lot from the providers and sellers of premium products in the analogue world. This not only makes our digital products and services better, but also justifies a higher price. The customer is willing to pay a little more for added value or chooses the more compact offer for the same price.

It can be helpful to put yourself in the shoes of the potential user and customer and ask yourself what would excite you about your product and make you buy it. This customer perspective is sometimes not easy – you know your own product better than anyone else and are convinced of it. In this context, external usability experts can provide support with an independent view of the product and the general conditions. They also advise on the basis of their experience with regard to well-founded, measurable and documented improvements to the product.

Armin Reuter
Januar 2020