The Importance of Competitive Usability Benchmarking
Testing your digital products and services with real users is crucial to ensuring success. Benchmarking your product against other competitors, however, will give you added insights into your strengths and weaknesses and allow you to benefit from added knowledge about the competition.
As an example, a financial services firm that was building an improved version of their online service approached AnswerLab with two key business goals – to better understand the needs of their customers and to strengthen the value proposition of their new service. Even before the client had a working prototype of the service, we gathered key information about their target customer’s needs by conducting a competitive benchmark study.
We watched and listened to participants as they interacted with a competitor’s site, and gathered new ideas for the client’s design team. The client learned what worked well and uncovered areas where users encountered trouble. This, combined with a test of a working prototype two months later, led the client to a very successful launch. They saw a 240% increase in customer conversions and a 268% jump in their order size.
To expand on this example, consider these four reasons to conduct your own competitive research:
Your competitors are doing it.
In a digital world, all advantages are fleeting. Constant innovation is crucial to your website or application’s success, especially when users expect regular updates. Chances are, your competitors are running usability tests – stay ahead of them by arming yourself with more knowledge!
Demonstrate value to management.
It’s not always easy to quantify the ways in which enhanced user experience will impact your bottom line. Senior management will take notice when you can demonstrate how your website or application stacks up to the competition.
Learn from others.
Many best practices have already been established in your industry. Why reinvent the wheel? Leverage the knowledge, strengths, and weaknesses of your competitors to your advantage.
Competitive assessments can be made at any stage of development.
Our experience shows that while field studies, card sorting, and intercept studies all have their place, competitive benchmarks can be gathered at any phase of product development. For example: An initial survey can be conducted in the concept phase to get a broad view of your competitors, while later studies can be run during the prototype phase and post-launch to ensure your offering is viable.
With the above example and motivations in mind, consider how your product stacks up to your competition. If you aren’t sure, consider competitive assessment testing as one way to ensure you’re armed with the knowledge to make your product or service an industry-leader.