Picked up wherever I am, dropped off wherever I want to go. And when I arrive, I bounce out of the car and wave goodbye. My ride feels like it was free because there was no money exchanged nor credit card pulled out. The whole transaction was handled by a slick, pretty pink app on my phone.
What am I talking about? Lyft right? Yes, but more importantly I’m talking about UX, the user experience. UX in fact made this line of business possible by differentiating these ride-share startups from traditional taxi cab and radio car companies. But it’s not just new, disruptive companies for which UX is fundamental, UX is revolutionizing pretty much every business today. In fact, UX is fast becoming the defining strategy of every company.
UX got its humble start in the late 1990s when companies gunning for market share realized that a friendlier web interface gave them an edge over the competition. The bar was pretty low at the start; people would regularly send me websites accompanied by a note stating, ‘You need to fix this.’ But today, I can say that UX is a business requirement with the same certainty that I can say that climate change is real. No company can become or remain a leader if it doesn’t prioritize and put money behind creating a user experience that meets its customers’ needs, and more importantly, customer expectations.
Creating a great website back in the 90’s was more a stroke of luck by the new class of web designers rather than the elegant science it has become today, which melds business and customer needs in an intuitive way. Take ordering and paying for my double tall Frappuccino with light caramel drizzle and non-fat milk on my phone at Starbucks (I actually drink drip, but I like this idea). It’s not a stroke of luck that Starbucks made a world’s leading app. They started from the vision of extending their brand of friendly ‘inspiration dispensing’ baristas. The design team spent months conducting user research, and then iterated on prototypes with extensive usability testing before launching. They created an app that does exactly what a well-designed user experience should – stay out of my way.