Monday, March 18, 2013

Built-in Risk: Are Useful, Usable, and Desirable Maybes or Mandates?

The often quoted 'Useful, Usable, Desirable' mantra is not new but is still a powerful truth to design products by. There are many facets that make a good customer experience good, but aiming for these three will almost always get you close. All too frequently, I'm confronted by products that didn't do it right.

After running into the latest one today, I thought about what an increasing risk it is for companies to not try to incorporate all three into what they are selling. While a few companies these days let things out the door only hitting one of the marks, many more try harder but still seem like Meatloaf must have been part of their decision-making process. Enabling two out of the three may seem like a worthwhile effort, but it's becoming more and more risky, and it's pretty easy to see why. This simple set of combinations shows what I mean:

Useful +Usable +Desirable = The People you're after will probably want it, use it, and love it.

-Useful +Usable +Desirable = People might try it and will probably find it easy to use, but (risk) they get distracted or bored, forget about it quickly, and move on to something else. Lots of shallow games and social apps fall into this area.

Useful -Usable +Desirable = People are drawn to the intent because they see it filling a need, even to the point that they are willing to be somewhat frustrated when using it. But (risk) as soon as a competitor helps them do this more easily, they'll be gone.

Useful +Usable -Desirable = People get a need met in an easy to use fashion, but engagement is low and no real emotional connection is made. (risk) When a competitor makes this enjoyable, people will switch easily.

So where does the experience your products provide land? Are you busy selling, or busy explaining why people should look beyond shortcomings? Do people want, use, and love what you make? Take a hard look now, because this might be your only chance to do something before someone else does.