The following diagram was made when I was consulting a baffled start-up about the general refurbishment of their product. Quite soon I got to the point where I needed to present the fact that their extended demoing and sales efforts wouldn’t produce any results due to the poor condition of the product. The problem was that the company hadn’t considered the quality of the interface (product design) as a reason behind the low sales and high churn rate. For a human-computer interaction designer, this was a shocking revelation, since the interface is that very touchpoint where visitors meets the features needs to be sold. I pulled together all of my interface design and digital strategy experience and created a ‘staircase’ diagram to mirror back the visitors’ value-judgment systems and present the process of how a product get positioned in their heads and eventually on the market.
Take a look at the two crucial milestones.
Products that are not recognized as a solution stays under this level during the visitors' value judgment process. Most people have a digital history and hence a quite outlined expectations towards a digital solution by the time they arrive at a new platform. They have a mental model already formed about what something that works should look like. This model significantly reduces their cognitive effort when meeting new products and, as such, is jolly useful. The borders of this model are somewhat flexible, nevertheless, the farther the new product is from that mental image, the less chance there is that that they will recognize it as a working solution.
Passing this level is the second biggest challenge for a digital product. There is a remarkable switch in the visitor’s behaviour when it comes to purchasing a product. When people are asked for money online, they in fact asked to give their money to people whom they have never met and businesses they know nothing about. The price at this point is insignificant. Even one dollar means opening one’s wallet for a stranger. Therefore, credibility is crucial at this level. Building trust online, in an anonymous world, is an art itself, and the process starts way before the registration. It starts with the visitors forming a pre-concept about what can be expected there. Later it continues on to the interface but doesn’t stop there. Visitors usually need return several times before becoming convinced that this is a trustworthy solution. Creating that experience requires an interface that addresses the visceral, behavioural and cognitive judgment levels of the visitors all at once. These three different processing levels call out for the adaptation of three different design aspects since all three have their autonomous processing systems, extracting very different pieces of information from the same visual scene.