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All products’ impact on society is the same

The impact of our work is not about the domain or size of the organization—to book a cab or to be able to close a deal in the CRM.

We often see discussions on the value of design and the impact of UX on users. For example, if a user is trying to book a cab on a ride-sharing app and if they can book it with very little friction, and fairly easily, we call it as good enough design. Similarly, if a sales engineer uses a CRM and they can close their deal without technical support, they might call it a good and useful product. 

Now look at the other scenario when the product is not good enough for some customers. For example:

  • A user raises a support ticket that they cannot use a specific feature for some reason, and after a cycle of emails, they stop using the product.
  • A user who does not upgrade a product to a paid plan because they cannot see the value that we promised them on the landing page when they signed up.
  • A parent is trying to pay a fee for their son’s college but they cannot follow the steps in the app confidently. So, they use some other payment method outside your app, or they have to travel to the college if it is in the same city, to pay the fees.

In the language of business or product management, we call it churn—one customer lost, or one lead lost. But if we look at the bigger picture, the impact runs far deeper and wider.

Imagine that in the above examples:

The user who tried to book a cab, took more time find the right cab for the destination. It meant that they got their cab late, reached the office late, which might have had an impact on their mood, performance, peer interaction, and it shows in the work. If they are booking it in the evening to go home, getting it late because of the poorly designed product means reaching home late, rushing to cook food, and could be missing out on helping their kid with a school project. It impacts everyone in the family.

Or the sales engineer who could not close the deal on the last day of the month and might have just missed out on meeting the goal of getting incentives because of the last missed deal. Missing it directly impacts his earnings, which can directly play a role in how he could have supported their family and folks in an emergency, or for a family celebration. It impacts everyone in their immediate network.

The parent cannot pay the college fees in time and it was the last day to deposit the fees. Later in the day, the university server stopped responding for half an hour and by the time it starts responding, the parents had to be at their own work; they could be using the same CRM that we discussed earlier in the post. See how the annoyance multiples.

We all are connected. We do not design for the second order effects or third order effects of what happens when people try to use poorly designed products. Rather than measuring it by a lead lost or a loss of $495 in a week (5 leads lost each of $99), the impact on society is the same.

This is why I find it challenging to quantify the impact of our work, and how my work is more or less important than your work or their work. We need to inculcate, train, and openly discuss our product sense. All work are equally important because when you look at the stakes, you look at the subjective variables too in those stakes. This is why when Jenn asked this question on Twitter, earlier this year, I replied as below.

What if the customer who is trying to book a ticket to travel to their partner plans to repair their broken relationship? So it was not about an unclear confirmation message or the button with inaccurate CTA (Call To Action), it is much bigger than what we see on the interface.

The impact of our work is not about the domain or size of the organization—to book a cab or to be able to close a deal in the CRM can have similar implications on the customers and their life and their networks. Products are products and these should be designed to serve the purpose, at all costs.

Vinish Garg

Vinish Garg

I am Vinish Garg, and I work with growing product teams for their product strategy, product vision, product positioning, product onboarding and UX, and product growth. I work on products for UX and design leadership roles, product content strategy and content design, and for the brand narrative strategy. I offer training via my advanced courses for content strategists, content designers, UX Writers, content-driven UX designers, and for content and design practitioners who want to explore product and system thinking.

Interested to stay informed about my work, talks, writings, programs, or projects? See a few examples of my past newsletters—All things products, Food for designInviting for 8Knorks. You can subscribe to my emails here.

Vinish Garg is an independent consultant in product content strategy, content design leadership, and product management for growing product teams.