Detection of problems and possible solutions, the definition of the market opportunities — all these are the goals of competitive analysis, one of the most essential methods of UX research. Conducting this type of research is crucial at the early stage of design, as it’s a foundation for a product you’re designing. Therefore, in this article, we explain what a competitive analysis is, why it’s important and will guide you through the competitive analysis process.
Competitive analysis is a UX research method that helps you to get strategic insights into the competitor’s design solutions like digital products’ features, functionality, flows, and overall user experience. Competitive analysis is a strategic move when you identify your major competitors (both current and potential), opportunities to fill, and threats in the current marketplace.
Also, it’s a way to collect and compare data about products on the marketplace and helps you to find out your competitor’s product’s strong (and weak) sides and detect opportunities they’ve missed.
It maps the competitor’s product’s design comprehensively. This way, you can discover industry standards. Moreover, by understanding your competitor’s product, you can create a strategy to design a product that will perform superiorly.
Competitive analysis in UX is an effective research method that will bring a lot of benefits to your digital product design. Here are some points why competitive analysis is important:
By conducting the competitive analysis, you will be able to answer essential questions: what competitors are doing in terms of design solutions? What can their products offer to customers? How can you beat the competition?
By finding answers to all these burning questions you’ll be able to create effective strategies and be sure of your product’s competitive advantage chances.
Another benefit from doing a competitive analysis is the possibility to discover design solutions and strategy moves you haven’t considered before. This one is especially beneficial for startups and projects you carry out in the territory unknown for you as this way you expand the understanding of the domain by analyzing your competitor’s moves and decisions.
Moreover, this data can be important for future projects to implement new strategies you’ve learned from others.
The advantage of conducting competitive analysis is also the chance to understand what’s working and what’s not in your competitor’s product. There are two positive points: you learn about competitor’s mistakes and offer a better product that won’t have the issues competitor’s customers might experience.
Moreover, by analyzing well-established practices in the industry you can implement the best ones in your design. You can understand how to meet customers’ expectations as they might already have specific expectations based on their previous experience with the competitors’ products. Therefore, you’ll be able to provide features that are essential for the product in a certain domain.
Last but not least, competitive analysis allows you to bring your team and stakeholders on the same page regarding your design strategy. The data collected through the research will give you a perspective and will help in the decision-making process. Moreover, it might also stimulate the design-thinking process and help find unexpected but brilliant solutions for your product design.
When conducting competitive analysis, you of course have to be objective and make sure that in the end, you’ll be able to understand what’s working in the competitor’s product and what’s not, what features your product should have, what are the possibilities you can use, that haven’t been explored by your competitors. Here are the steps of competitive analysis to help you understand the process:
To begin your research, you need to define your goal and the problems you want to solve with your product. This will make your competitive analysis efficient and will help you to understand what you want to achieve with it. Define what your design should be focused on and keep this in mind during the whole process.
Understanding the problem you want to solve will help you to identify the competitors whose products are focused on the same issues. You can understand what is unique about their product and its way of solving this problem. Also, you can find out about the failed attempts to achieve this and analyze why it didn’t work out.
After you’ve defined the problem statement which should lead your research, you will be able to understand the market you’re getting into. To conduct a competitor analysis, pick up to ten competitors. Also, take note of the companies whose products use the specific feature or technology that you want to apply to your product.
This way you’ll be able to divide the competitors into two groups: direct and indirect competitors. Direct competitors are the ones who offer a similar product to what you want to create. Indirect competitors are the ones who don’t offer the same product as you but strive to satisfy the same needs and solve the same problem.
To analyze and evaluate your competitor’s product performance you should take into account the following criteria: user demographics, lists of product features, evaluation of visual design language, voice, language, and content.
For your research, it’s important to do a comparison of the competitions’ product features. Create a list of features and UX elements that are the most relevant to your product and can be useful for your customers. You should include in your analysis:
To identify the differences between your product and the competitors’ one you can use a comparison chart. Also, try to detect weak points of competitor’s product design: how the overall user experience can be improved?
To structure and make sense of your findings you should conduct qualitative and quantitative analysis. First, you should focus on qualitative analysis of your competitor’s product. A high-level inventory of content and functionality of the competitor’s product can be very useful for competitive analysis. In this case, the content consists of all informational pages and covers both visual and textual content. The functionality then is what users can do while using the product and how they achieve their goal.
Besides this, quantitative analysis covers:
The visual design of the competitor websites or apps is shaping a customer’s first impression and is extremely important for the user experience. For your competitive analysis, you can include the homepages screenshots, without going into details, just to show the visual design solutions of your competitors.
To identify strengths and weak points you can apply a heuristic evaluation of the competitor’s end-to-end user experience. This step is a great starting point and will help you to structure the data you’ve discovered.
The quantitative analysis focuses mostly on numbers. To carry it out you should analyze the following points:
The useful method for quantitative analysis is to rate your competitors. You can create criteria and assign a score for each of them. This way, you’ll be able to measure the user experience and compare the performance of your competitors.
To understand how users interact with the competitor’s product and rate how they’re successful in achieving their goals you can assess various points: time users spent on achieving their goal, number of clicks to what they’re looking for, user journey, errors, and success rate.
Finally, to evaluate the success of a competitor’s digital products and understand their marketing strategy you can analyze the ranking in major search engines. You should research and analyze the common keywords for companies in the same industry or market, as top placement in Google rankings, for example, is an advantage when it comes to attracting new users. So, you should note that as well.
Competitive analysis is an essential UX research method that helps you to build your product’s design and helps you find new opportunities to fill. It helps you to understand the market better and at the end of the analysis, you’ll also be able to understand your potential clients better. Therefore, UX competitive analysis is a great way to start your product design process and a valuable contribution to your design strategy.
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