Good user experience drives adoption and conversion
Arguably of the three apps pictured above, the Cash app from Square is the most revolutionary. The app has made sending money between individuals as efficient as three taps (well, if you exclude the number of taps to enter a dollar amount). It’s incredibly easy and nearly frictionless.
While Spotify has been around for a few years, leading consumers around the world down the streaming path for music, their loyal users always wonder, “How does Spotify know that I’d like this artist I’ve never heard of?!” The surprise and delight their users get through new music discovery is palpable. And they achieve that through personalization—which I would argue is great user experience.
Spotify’s efforts of magical personalization and constant refinement of their UI, have translated into actual dollars. Their paying subscriber base jumped from around 15 million to around 70 million monthly active users in just four years.
Consumer grade is the new professional grade
The consumerization of enterprise applications has been going on for a while. Meeker points to Dropbox pioneering it in 2007.
As a user experience designer, it’s obvious to me that products should just work, and that steep learning curves for any product or application should be eradicated.
This is Oracle’s OPERA hotel management software. Where is the hierarchy of information? Looks like it requires weeks of training to understand, right? Perfect for a front-desk worker at a hotel, no? Not consumer-grade, not human-grade.
OPERA was made by Micros Systems before Oracle bought the company. You still see Micros-branded point-of-sale systems at restaurants today, and they look like this…
Despite the color coding and zones, it looks like this will still require days of training new wait staff for them to be proficient.
Compare that with Square’s Register app that runs on an iPad. You don’t even need a manual to figure out how to use this.
(As you can see I’m very passionate about making enterprise software easier to use and understand. I’ll definitely write more about this in the future.)
Virality isn’t always possible, especially with things like point-of-sale systems. However good old fashioned word-of-mouth can certainly help, and I think that’s where Square really shines with small business owners. When the Square card reader debuted, this tiny piece of hardware that plugged into your iPhone’s headphone jack was so ingenious that everyone asked about it when they saw one for the first time.
Computer, what is the nature of the universe?
As Star Trek depicted in its fictional universe for decades now, voice is the future of human-computer interaction. This year we passed an important threshold in terms of voice recognition accuracy.
Better accuracy will drive greater adoption of the technology, as seen with the explosive growth of Amazon Echo and its Alexa skills.
Voice recognition as a user experience paradigm brings up questions of affordance1, like how do we teach humans what they can ask so the computer will return (or do) something useful?
Voice-user interface is also changing search engine algorithms as we tend to ask Siri (or Alexa or Google) questions rather than keywords. Therefore we need to change our content to maximize our SEO rankings.
The future is bright
Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2018 deck is a whopping 294 slides. I encourage you to flip through it as I’m skipping whole sections on the continuing rise of e-commerce, digital ad spends, and China.