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September 27th, 2016

Fine-Tune Your Product Design for Better Online Reviews

American consumers are spoiled for choice when it comes to products and services. As more and more new products compete for their attention, consumers are turning to online product reviews to inform their purchasing decisions. According to one survey, two-thirds of online shoppers read reviews before making a purchase. And 90% of those shoppers report being influenced by what they read. Even brick and mortar retailers say many of their customers are checking online reviews before buying.

If you want to launch a successful product in this market climate, it’s critical that your product get good reviews. And that means you need to deliver a product that does more than satisfy a need or solve a problem. It needs to do so in a way that delights the user. How do you inspire your customers to write about their love for your product?  Deliver an exceptional user experience.

Here are four tips for enhancing your product’s user experience to maximize online review potential.

Make Your Product Easier to Use

Carefully evaluate how people use your product, looking for opportunities to make things easier and more intuitive. Designers should strive for a product that requires the shortest instructions, takes the fewest steps to operate, and results in the minimum of frustrating user errors.

How does this translate into 5-star reviews? When a product is easy to use, consumers experience the benefit of the product more quickly. They also feel better about themselves. A happy, confident customer is more likely to jump online and sing your product’s praises. And easy to use products result in fewer operator errors—a common source of negative reviews.

Make Your Product More Fun

Most companies outside the toy business don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the fun factor of their products. But changing your thinking can be a great way to get out of the typical engineering driven, problem-solving mindset and into the emotional minds of consumers. As consumers, we buy products in part for the emotional reward that comes with a new purchase.

To make your products fun, you must optimize the design to convey a sense of wonder, joy, and delight. Products can do this by operating in a new or unexpected way. Think about the fun of the Dyson Bladeless Fan. Users can’t resist putting their hand through the bladeless void, imagining how such a powerful gust can emerge from seeming nothingness. Products can also delight when they work more smoothly and precisely than the consumer expects. Think of the joy of cutting ripe tomatoes with an ultra-sharp, perfectly balanced kitchen knife.

Fun products stand out from their straight-laced competitors, begging to be shared. Consumers often choose, and share, products that reflect the personality and identity they aspire to have. They’re eager to show off their style and savvy at having discovered and purchased such a great product.

Make Your Product Beautiful

Science has proven that a person’s physical appearance can influence your perception of that person’s intelligence or competence. Psychologists call it the “What is Beautiful is Good” stereotype: if we find someone (or something) attractive, we are more likely to judge their other qualities positively as well. This explains why first impressions are so important in a job interview, and why aesthetic form is critically important to product design. If a person finds a product to be beautiful, they are more likely to give high ratings to the product’s performance, ease-of-use, and value.

Design the Entire Product Experience

There are many ways a product experience can go bad that have nothing to do with the product itself. The shopping experience, packaging, the customer service…each touchpoint poses a threat (and an opportunity) for your product’s online reputation. That’s why good design should be “purposefully built into every aspect of your business,” as Ed Holme wrote in a recent piece, Design’s Value in an Online World.

When it comes to boosting your product’s online reviews, there are no shortcuts. Customers can be devastatingly honest, so make sure your product has the chops to survive the thrashing, and use these tips to give your product the edge in a judgmental, online marketplace.

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