UX isn’t designed. It’s experienced. (It’s in the name, dummy.)

Take a look at the photo above. What do you notice?

Nothing, probably. Why should you? It’s because you’re looking at a photo, you’re not experiencing the product. If you were, you’d notice it immediately: the tag on the tea bag doesn’t include information on brewing time.

It’s the most basic thing, really. If you’re anything like me and you don’t drink tea too regularly, this is the point at which you’re going back to the cupboard, re-shuffling all the 30 different varieties of tea (including the 20-odd tea packages that will never be drunk but somehow always end up in front of all the others) until you find the one you just used and look up the brewing time.

Yes, the product designer could’ve thought about this ahead. Yes, probably there wasn’t a product designer in the first place. And no, this will not decide on whether or not I will keep buying this specific brand of tea.

But it is a great example for two things:

(1) If you’re serious about Customer Centricity, put the customer first
(2) Great UX is about great detail.

As for the first point: Way too many companies, be it digital or otherwise, do not put their customers first. That’s only too understandable. After all, you’re in the tea (slash money, slash science, slash you-name-it) business and marketing, after all, let’s be real, is about making shiny ads and increasing the Conversion Rate on your website.

Only: You’re not. And it isn’t. Every company (yes, every) is in the customer business. Let’s make it real simple: If you have customers, you’re in the customer business. And marketing is, quite obviously really, not the final point of product development. It’s the starting point.

Don’t ever develop a product that doesn’t sell. It’s as simple as that.

You may hire a legion of UX and UI designers, you may work with countless consultants who will tell you on how to optimize your business in order to increase your reach in valuable customer segments… or: you may talk to your customers.

Incidentally, this is where point one automatically triggers point two: Pay attention to details. Or rather yet: Talk to the people who do. Your customers. To them, every detail matters.

This isn’t new, by the way. Customer feedback has fueled product development and product improvement for centuries. It’s the main reason why many products and companies exist at all.

But it is a lot harder to put customer feedback at the center of everything you do when you’re running a global company with thousands of employees and branches in 100+ countries than if you’re sitting behind the desk of your own business and interact with your customers on a daily basis. But more importantly: It becomes impossible if you’re focused on the wrong metrics.

Let’s take Yahoo as an example. Yahoo had the chance to buy Google’s search technology when web search was still — well, when it was still more about searching than about finding. But Yahoo didn’t buy what was later to become Google. Why not? Because they were looking at the wrong metric. They were actually happy that customers took a long time to find what they were looking for. Because that meant more time on their website, more ad impressions, more revenue.

Yahoo was looking at the wrong metric. They put the company first.

Now, let’s take a look at a different example. Mercedes Benz. There is a famous story about a Mercedes Benz customer who regularly had to had the axis on his car repaired. So often that the engineers at Mercedes decided to look into it. To their amazement, they found out that this specific customer had a long cobblestone road in front of his house which regularly trashed the axis of his car.

Cobblestone-proof (photo: Paolo Martini)

So Mercedes decided to integrate cobblestone to their test tracks. That was some fifty years ago. To this day, they’re testing their new models on cobblestone tracks, among others.

Mercedes was looking at the right metric. They put the customer first.

I’m not saying that you need to integrate each and every customer wish into your product. Sometimes, customer feedback helps to improve an existing product. Sometimes, it helps to create a new product.

But you should never dismiss it.

And more importantly: You should never assume that you know what your customer is thinking. Because you’re not. It’s called user experience for a reason.

It’s based on the user. Them. And it’s based on the user’s experience. Not on the UX designer’s. Theirs.

So whether you’re in the tea business or in any other: Stop thinking about you and start thinking about them. Or better yet: Become one of them. Start actually using your products. Make their experience your experience. Because that’s what UX is all about.

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Digital Enthusiast. Let's go.

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