Designing a new app or website? No matter how novel your idea is, it is likely that there is something similar already in the market. After all, there are more than 2.7 million apps on Google Play and 1.8 million apps on the Apple App Store, and more than 1.9 billion websites. So, how can you evaluate the competitive edge and value of your app/website? By running a comprehensive and effective competitor analysis.
A UX competitor analysis will give you an insight into the market that your digital product will compete in. In the absence of this analysis, you might be left wondering why users would choose your app/website over your competitors.
Moreover, an assessment of your competition will help you identify the weaknesses and strengths of your product.
What is a UX competitor analysis and why do one?
UX competitive analysis, at its core, provides an overview of the present state of the market. It forms an important part of the research process as you get to collect, examine and also compare data related to your and your competitor’s app/website in the marketplace. Irrespective of whether you are creating an eCommerce site, a travel, a babysitting app, or a fintech dashboard, understanding the landscape is vital to designing a strong foundation for your digital product. Even though a detailed UX competitive analysis includes research into user demographics, features, feelings evoked by the design, functions, and much more, the focus is always the UX (user experience).
Conducting UX competitor analysis helps in learning more about the competition so that you can:
- Define gaps in the market
- Analyze where your app/website stands in the market
- Know the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors while identifying the disadvantages and advantages of your design project
- Solve usability issues through testing
- Craft a go-to-market strategy
When is the right time to perform a competitor analysis?
In the UX design process, UX competitor analysis is one of the earliest research steps. It begins before UX designers start working on the design of the app/website and continue throughout the project.
How to conduct a UX competitor analysis?
1. Know your objectives
Why are you conducting a competitive analysis and what do you hope to achieve? Will this research affect your UX decisions? You must answer these questions as specifically as possible so that you can address the issues that you are facing with your design project with the competitor analysis.
2. Identify your competitors
The next step is to research and identify your competitors (at least 5 to 10 of them). You can categorize your competitors in this order:
- Direct competition – Direct competitors consist of those companies and people who are already doing what you are trying to do. For instance, if you are thinking of designing a travel app, some of your direct competitors will be Makemytrip, Tripit, Skyscanner, and so on.
- Indirect competition – Indirect competitors consist of those who offer something similar to what you’re offering. For example, here is a list of direct and indirect competitors of Netflix.
3. Employ benchmarking for UX competitor analysis
Without the implementation of UX competitor benchmarking, your UX analysis will lack clearly defined data. You will end up with an overview of the marketplace, but without any insight for comparing your design project against competitors.
The performance of your app/website compared to your competition can be tracked if you have employed UX competitor benchmarking. However, while it is not easy to track metrics like sales data, you can easily compare website visits/app downloads, the total number of users, social media followers, and so on.
You can even set internal benchmarks, along with competitive benchmarks so that you can monitor and assess pre-existing KPIs (key performance indicators), such as cost per customer acquisition, usage time and login numbers, clicks and engagement, average daily attendance, and so on.
4. Understand your competitors by using their app/website and find out the UX issues
You can gain a basic understanding of your competition by studying their online presence. But, to truly comprehend their service design, you have to use the app/website of your competitors. Here’s how to do that.
- Register or subscribe for a free trial (if any), or sign up for a brief period.
- Analyze how their task flows and user journeys are designed.
- Complete tasks like, onboarding or making a purchase and draw a user journey map.
- Notice how easy or frustrating it is to navigate the app/website and ascertain the UX.
While you are using your competitor’s product, try to identify and pinpoint the UX issues so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes. Here’s how you can identify UX problems.
- Are the various task flows easy, too complicated, or time-consuming?
- Does the app/website pass interaction design principles, heuristic guidelines, and basic usability?
- Are the user flows optimized? Is there room for improvement? For instance, if it is taking you more than a minute and 5-6 steps to complete a purchase on your competitor’s app/website, look for ways to make it faster.
- Try to look for any important feature that the competitor might have missed.
5. Define the criteria for assessing your competitors
By now, you’ve gathered enough data about your competitors. For ease of comparison, you need to define the criteria for analyzing your competitors. You can create a chart to list out the features of your competitors’ app/website, along with other UX and design elements. The things to consider include:
- Reviews and ratings
- Responsive design or mobile-friendliness
- User-friendliness and usability
- Load/wait time
- Customer service
- User interface
6. Prepare an analysis report
A UX competitor analysis report typically consists of a detailed study of the competitors who you have shortlisted. The report highlights the important points where they have succeeded, as well as, the points that they have missed.
The report will include an assessment of the competitors’ app/website, along with an explanation of the specific UX/UI features. Both strengths and weaknesses will be mentioned, along with areas of improvement.
A UX competitor analysis is time-consuming, but when done correctly, it can dramatically improve the conversion rates and customer satisfaction of your app/website. Also, it can help you stand apart from the rest in the marketplace.