What is Competitive Analysis in UX?
From the functionality to the design details of an application, competitive analysis is the process of researching your market competitors. When you can assess your competition in-depth, you can identify where your product may have weaknesses. Competitive analysis is a strategic method and a crucial part of the often extensive research process that goes into developing a product. This tactic focuses on at least several competitors including yourself, to properly evaluate each product’s successes and where there may be room for improvement. Utilizing competitive analysis in UX design specifically focuses on the grounds of an application, as we mentioned the functionality such as how user’s can navigate through your applications, or finer details such as the design of the call to action buttons on your product, website, or app.
In UX design the competitive analysis process should be one of the first tasks in developing your product, even before creating an actual product for output. However, with that said it’s also important to pay attention to up-and-coming competition as you work through your process past the research stage. Being aware of the new competition can be an essential part of providing insight as you grow and upgrade your product. When using competitive analysis in UX design specifically it’s critical to look at what the problem is and who (your competitors) is trying to come up with a solution. What are they doing to create a solution for this problem? What unique aspects does this competitor have that make them stand out from the rest? What failures in the past have others had and why did they fail?
What is Competitive Analysis used for?
Competitive analysis allows for designers to compete with what exists on the market already. Designers are able to scope the landscape in which their product would exist, and understand what the set standards are for user experience in this market. A competitive UX analysis can encourage designers to come up with creative and innovative design solutions, while also letting them see failed features they may want to steer clear of. A well conducted competitive UX analysis provides insight for designers and their clients on what the current market is working with, but from the perspective of your audience and how this will affect your product.
How to Use Competitive Analysis in UX in 3 Steps
Step 1: Recognize your Objectives
Start by laying out all your objectives, what knowledge do you want to gain from your analysis? With the influx of information you will collect through your analysis process it’s important to recognize your objectives in order to not lose sight of your purpose in using competitive analysis. When we can identify what exactly we are looking for or paying attention to through this analysis we can readily apply this information once we complete the analysis. Define what you want to learn from your competitors.
Step 2: Finding your Competitors
Once you’ve set your objectives it’s time to find out who your competitors will be in your analysis. Selecting at least 5 or more competitors will give you a well rounded result, but also including your own product in the analysis can provide detailed insight into how your product compares to these competitors. Including direct and indirect competitors, ones who function outside of current market you can learn how to draw in a wider audience. An example of direct competitors would be businesses who may be selling the same product or service as you, such as McDonald’s direct competitor would be a company like Burger King. McDonald’s and Burger King offer the same type of product, American fast food at an affordable price point. An indirect competitor of McDonald’s would be a company like Taco Bell or Del Taco, while they both are fast food companies at an affordable price point they offer different menus i.e. selling a different specific product.
Step 3: Analyze Products and Debrief with Collected Data
After you’ve selected the competitors you want to use in your analysis, you can finally begin the extensive research process into these competitors. Taking a look into the direct user experience a target audience would have when using their products. Note what elements of their UX are their strengths and innovations, but also keep in mind their faults too. Don’t forget to take note visually as well, this will help immensely when reviewing the final data.
Finally, once you’ve collected all your data it’s time to debrief with your team what you’ve gathered. Evaluating your findings and observations is a critical part in properly implementing what you have learned from your competitive analysis. Your debrief should include the recommended changes or updates you feel your UX design needs as a result of your findings. How will these findings impact your design?
Additional Steps for a Thorough Process
Conducting a heuristic evaluation is a crucial part in understanding the ins and outs of your competitor’s product. Heuristic evaluation is measuring the usability of an application or its interface. This process is especially essential in UX design and UI design. Following proven design and usability principles evaluators can provide a heuristic evaluation. This evaluation starts with establishing your heuristics, which are quick solutions to problems; then delegating who should be the evaluators, right into rounds of evaluation processes, noting where the problems are, and finally laying out all the research from this process.
Your analysis should include quantitative and qualitative data, the numerical and statistical side of the research process. In researching and analyzing this data we are often able to pinpoint exactly where our competitors are having their success and failures. Quantitative and qualitative data analysis helps us identify relationships between different elements. For example, in finding the amount of traffic a competitor’s application receives from a specific kind of audience is an important factor to consider when trying to target your own audience for your application or product.
Along with the numbers and statistics side of data, you can also benefit from applying a more visual-based data analysis. Visual competitive analysis is typically helpful when comparing a logo or key branding visual component for your product. Designers will often use visual competitive analysis to further explain to their clients their process and reason. When comparing visually you can lay out all competitors and quickly identify differences and similarities.
Advantages of using Competitive Analysis
When using competitive analysis in your research there are various advantages, especially in UX design. One of the many advantages is that competitive analysis provides businesses with an overall insight into the outside market and we can further evaluate how your product will look in that setting. Oftentimes through this research we can determine what problems need solutions in the market and even target a market that is being underserved. For example, when Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty makeup line was first released in 2017 it provided a diverse range of color options with their foundations that was not available in the market that existed at the time. Through providing this wide range of colors, Fenty Beauty was able to cater to a specific target audience that was being underserved previously. This is what set Fenty Beauty apart from their competitors, especially in such a saturated market such as the beauty industry. Creating a unique avenue for your product that allows you to stand out from your competitors is crucial to success in today’s vast climate.
Conducting your competitive analysis regularly you can continue to understand the viability of your product. The market continuously changes and new products flourish every day, but the key is to stay up to date with these developments in order to continue your product’s growth and remain a constant competitor in the market. When you conduct competitive analysis regularly, it provides an insight into your next move. How can you further innovate for your product, what is an approach you may have not yet taken yet? Staying one step ahead of some of your other competitors, your business can excel in new ways and create solutions for your audience faster.
Another advantage to utilizing competitive analysis for your UX, would be the opportunity for you to gauge the effectiveness in your marketing strategy. Data-driven marketing has grown to be an essential tool in marketing, social media is a huge reason for this. Today companies have to designate a large budget and invest time into social media marketing, where this is how we can connect with our target audience more directly than ever before. Companies that don’t invest in social media tend to fall behind and become forgotten. When we compare our competitors' strategy in marketing we can judge where our strategies may be lacking and where we can improve.
Disadvantages of using Competitive Analysis
When using competitive analysis there can be disadvantages to using this process. One of the disadvantages would be becoming overwhelmed by all this data. Oftentimes there is so much to learn from your competitors that when you do finally take a step back to assess all the data to be implemented in your product, you are left with multiple items to fix. This can also be referred to as “analysis paralysis”. Providing solutions for each and every one of these issues all at one time can end up frustrating and confusing you. It’s important to efficiently process what data you have gathered from your analysis and find a good point to start at. For example, if you realized through your research your product is lacking in its usability factors, rather than becoming lost in that aspect, start with what is it about the competitors product that makes theirs great in terms of usability? Once you’ve identified that you can implement those details into your product one by one.
Misinterpretation is another factor that often frustrates designers conducting competitive analysis for their UX designs. When information is misinterpreted, companies can overestimate what requirements are actually needed for the functionality of your final product. Catering to all markets isn’t always a good thing, and it sometimes leads to the original idea and/or function getting lost and poorly executed.
In conclusion, it’s important to utilize your competitive analysis research efficiently and methodically. Competitive Analysis for UX design is a great way to understand where your product stands amongst its competitors. A thorough process can provide great insight into the many possibilities for improvement for your product, even creating better design solutions overall.
How can competitor analysis help the user experience?
Competitor analysis helps the user experience by bringing to attention where the gaps are within the market allowing you to determine what problems need solutions and what audiences may need attention.
What does competitor analysis bring to my business?
Competitor analysis helps businesses find areas of opportunity for their product, where you can upgrade and highlight your business amongst the competition. Businesses are also able to identify where their weaknesses are and what the next trend that you should be paying attention to is.
Check out our article on 5 UX Methods & Trends to Follow in 2022.
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