The new killer differentiator isn’t what you think

by Jeff Hilimire on January 11, 2012

Design is the new black. Or the new viral. Or, “what’s next”.

You want to know what you should focus on in 2012? Think its more Facebook, or mobile, or some kind of NFC something or other? Nope. It’s the design of your product or service and specifically, the design of the experience that your customers have with every interaction they have with your company.

I’m emphasizing this with every startup I help out with and every group that I’m on the board of. It’s why I believe that apps like Path and Flipboard have a shot at being successful. They’re designed so beautifully that you just want to keep interacting with them.

It’s why when I play with something new like Tout, after a few minutes I find myself realizing that I’ll probably never go back to it. It has very cool functionality and promise, but the experience itself is so lacking that unfortunately I can’t see myself enjoying using it.

And that’s the big “aha”.

Today there are SO many alternatives to everything. So many players trying to get everyone’s attention. Startups and new products are popping up daily. Brands are finding new ways to get in front of customers and potential customers by the minute.

With all that chaos, the products that are designed the best are going to win.

It’s why Apple is doing so well – the experience is just better. It’s why Disney is still the standard in entertainment parks.

With the number of choices increasing infinitely and technology advancing incredibly fast, focus on the design and the experience of what you have already before going into new spaces. Nail the experience and you’ll be on solid ground to start going after the white space.

  • Joe Koufman

    Isn’t this much like the evolution of web design?  The early websites were functional, but the “killer app” has been sites that nailed the user experience.  Google, Amazon, Craig’s List, eBay, etc. have been the big winners because they provided superior experiences for users. 

  • JoMo

    Couldn’t agree more. Keeping your thoughts in mind, how behind are other companies going to fall (not that any particular company comes to mind…)? There are some monster companies out there who appear to have trouble staying relevant in new markets because they don’t quite get the product “just right”.

  • Nsmith

    This is also supported by the fact that both designers and UX folks are in such high demand right now.

  • Katherine Moore

    To me this is the common sense that brands are having to wake up to and realize in their own products to stay relevant. It’s like a job interview: You dress accordingly and look nice for the day to make a good impression. No matter how wonderful your resume is, appearance and interaction factor in. 

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