Can You Have a Great Product with Bad UX?
To answer this question about bad user experience, we must first preface it with defining, “a great product.”
Is a great product the same as a successful one? If we measure a product’s greatness by its ubiquity or gross revenue — the answer is yes. There are plenty of everyday items with horrific UX that continue to be in bought and used.
This can occur because there is simply no better substitute, or we have become so accustomed to the concept we no longer notice its inefficiencies.
Consider your keyboard. The symbol placement is far from intuitive — to the point that there is an entire industry of software dedicated to onboarding young users. Yet, it remains the standard.
The vast majority of products with bad UX will not have the far-reaching success of the keyboard, and even then — they will never truly be “great products.”
Truly great products do not have bad UX. Here is why:
It might serve a purpose, but it doesn’t fulfill its potential
Let’s talk about the standard printer for example — notorious for confusing buttons, erratic behaviors and almost guaranteed user frustration.
It fills a need so people continue to buy it — especially if the alternatives have equally bad UX. However, the gap in usability must be filled with a crutch: heavy customer service, rigorous onboarding or aggressive marketing.
Patching up your product’s UX problem instead of fixing it at the root will quickly run up a tab.
Just ask any company that sells a printer how often their customer service representatives hear about various printing malfunctions.
Simply put, a product with bad UX is a product that could be better. Companies that do not invest in their UX are missing an opportunity to create a truly great product.
Frustration will turn to user churn
A product which causes user frustration will be abandoned — just as soon as something better comes along. Take CDs for example.
From a business perspective, a product with bad UX is an unstable investment as a competitor could easily improve upon the concept and gain a competitive edge.
UX is constantly evolving
User experience has existed long before the buzzword was coined, and has continued to evolve in many products we use every day. The telephone’s evolution is just one prominent example.
In the age of the customer, growing demands for better user experience has stipulated an influx of more intuitive products and software. This shift marks a turning point where UX is no longer an added bonus, but rather a means for survival.
Not even the keyboard is safe.