UX competitor analysis is an effective methodology to gain a deeper understanding of one’s products, goals and target market.
It helps UX designers evaluate their competition in order to further improve their products, especially in a fast-paced landscape where many brands are all vying for the utmost attention of dynamic users.
Since competitors can be leveraged as a source of inspiration, today’s article seeks to explain how to execute an effective competitive analysis to achieve tangible UX results.
What is a UX competitor analysis?
UX competitor analysis is a mission-critical component of the UI/UX research process. A UX Competitor analysis is necessary to garner a comprehensive understanding of one’s market and the level of competition one will face when one launches their product.
This iterative analysis exercise principally offers strategic insights into the functions, flows, features, and feelings evoked by the UX design solution offered by one’s competitors. When one understands these facets pertaining to their competition, it becomes easier to create a solution that offers a positive experience for users.
Despite being one of the initial steps of the UX designing process, competitive research should always be iterative and continuous as long as one is still working on the same project. This ethos can enable one to continually improve their products’ usability and attractiveness over time.
Benefits of carrying out UX competitor analysis
The main benefits of executing iterative UX competitor analysis are:
- The ability to solve usability challenges: Executing a UX competitor analysis can help one resolve any usability issues that might occur by evaluating and learning from what competitors are offering in the market.
- Identification of market gaps: A competitive analysis can help designers to identify gaps in the current market. For instance, identifying unique features not present in competitors’ products.
- Discovery of new areas for growth and innovation: A competitive analysis can discover new functions or technology paradigms that competitors have never used which could become unique selling points of one’s new product. In fact, one might discover features that can be implemented differently to deliver the same outcome.
- Optimised decision-making: A competitive analysis can arm you with valuable information about what your customers desire (or don’t want) to optimise your pricing strategies and brand positioning.
- Creation of detailed requirements for a new product: If one’s product has not yet been launched, one can leverage competitor analysis results to curate detailed documentation to guide further product development.
UX Competitor analysis methods
There are four main methods to effectively execute a UX competitor analysis, namely:
SWOT is essentially a strategic planning process that assesses one’s competition based on four categories, namely: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. In practice, the ‘strengths’ and ‘weaknesses’ elements of a SWOT analysis are internal factors, whilst the ‘threats’ and ‘opportunities’ are considered external factors.
A prioritisation matrix
A prioritisation matrix is a prioritisation framework employed to methodically compare options available, and then rank choices based on predefined selection/weighted criteria. A prioritisation matrix offers an effective and efficient way to select the project elements one’s team should focus on when performing a UX competitor analysis.
Porter’s five forces
Porter’s Five Forces is a UX competitive analysis framework exploited to iteratively analyse the operating environment of one’s competition. In practice, this strategic framework focuses on evaluating competitors based on five elements: the bargaining power of suppliers, competitive rivalry, the bargaining power of buyers, the threat of new substitutes, and the threat posed by new entrants.
Users’ perceptions of a system can inadvertently affect its perceived usability.
A perceptual map delivers a visual representation of one’s customers’ perceptions of their product relative to their competition. Also called a position map, a perceptual map is set against two axes that move from low to high to explore and assess factors such as price vs. performance, or the perceived usability and subjective appearance of a product.
How to do UX competitor analysis?
To execute a UX competitive analysis, there are several steps you have to consider, such as:
1. List down your goals
Leverage your existing product goals as a foundation for your competitive analysis. This step should help you set benchmarks, list the goals of your competitor analysis and align them with your desired outcome.
2. Define parameters
In the next step, define the parameters for comparison that bring value to your users. You can place these parameters into a comparison table for guidance when compiling a list of competitors to evaluate.
We recommend listing major competitor attributes like their name, website, mission statement, sales pitch, products/services offered (with pricing), strengths, and key differentiators.
3. Study your competitors
When evaluating your competition, you’ll have two categories of competition to consider: direct and indirect competition.
When analysing your direct competition, ensure you have a common domain and functionality. This means that your competitor’s service/product should solve the same problems and directly satisfy the same needs as your product. For example, if you analyse mobile apps, your competitor must also employ mobile apps as well.
When analysing your indirect competition, ensure that both your products solve the same problems but can be presented on a different platform. In essence, indirect competitors can sometimes work in another business area or even have another target audience, but still, possess functionality that is close to yours.
Do not forget to also study new entrants to the industry that are leveraging emerging technologies, processes and ways of working that may have the potential to change the face of your market landscape.
4. Gather data
In the next step, gather data from your competitors using free and paid tools like Ahrefs (an SEO analysis tool), Buzzsumo (a content analysis tool for analysing top-performing content), Mailcharts (an email marketing analysis tool) and iSpionage (a paid ad analysis tool).
5. Compare all competitors and their products
In this next step, you can have participants complete defined tasks whilst using your and your competitor’s products as you analyse how users navigate both to uncover specific patterns and compare them.
6. Understand competitors’ user research practices
In this next step, explore the research methodologies used by competitors to gather user insights to identify gaps or areas for improvement. By iteratively analysing competitors’ UX research practices, one can identify areas where they excel and where they fall short in order to find new opportunities to differentiate themselves from competitors.
In this next stage, create a summary of your findings to help you identify design opportunities since you now understand your competitors’ shortfalls (as well as your own). Your summarised analysis can be leveraged to engage stakeholders when pitching design changes that you believe will be beneficial to the product.
You can even write a UX audit report with recommendations to help you focus on the most vital design changes for your company goals. Consider utilising tables and matrices to support the claims made in the report and identify where the product may need to improve or where you could innovate. Keep the report concise and updated over time.
8. Iterative testing and improvement
After completing your competitive research and analysis, implement them to direct your design decision and product strategies. This should be a process of continual iteration and testing to stay ahead of market shifts and adjust products/services accordingly.
UX competitor analysis example
An organisation that sells organic cruelty-free makeup can conduct a UX competitor analysis by comparing the websites of two other similar companies to identify gaps and strategic opportunities.
They can evaluate the user experience of these competitor websites and create a comparison chart of notable features, functionality, and user experience.
Also, they could then collect all necessary information about product usability and features customers use, and even features with poor implementation.
Subsequently, they could share their discoveries after analysis with their stakeholders and exploit the insights to guide their product strategy when coming up with new ideas on how to optimise their mobile app.
Ethical considerations in competitor analysis
As you conduct a competitor analysis, there are several ethical considerations to make:
- It is imperative to be aware of legal considerations like intellectual property laws when conducting a competitive analysis.
- It is vital to respect the confidentiality of the information you gather.
- Don’t just directly copy the product designs and avoid plagiarism, but rather use the competitor analysis for inspiration to better adapt your solutions to fit your users.
- Do not misrepresent yourself when seeking out information. This might cast a shadow on your brand and the integrity of the insights gathered.
- Utilise the information gathered ethically and responsibly. This means avoiding the exploitation of insider information or data obtained through unethical means like computer hacking or malware.
In summary, competitor analysis exercises in user design enable UX designers to gain insights into competitors’ design decisions. It also helps get evidence when considering product changes and identify potential opportunities to stay ahead of the competition.
By periodically running a competitor analysis, organisations can stay ahead of market shifts and iteratively adjust their services accordingly in an ever-changing business landscape.
Remember, effective UX competitor analysis relies on planned research, understanding which competitor information is most important and the ability to synthesise your research findings.
You can either consider conducting competitive intelligence in-house or outsourcing it to get an in-depth UX review of your product.
Reach out to us at Netizen Experience for conducting UX Competitor Analysis for your next project!