Competitive analysis (competitor benchmarking):
It is a process of comparing the performance of a website’s (or another digital product’s) user interface to the performance of its competitor’s interface in order to identify its strengths and weaknesses. The comparison can be holistic – ranking competing products by overall usability metrics, or it could be focused, comparing specific features or elements.
The process of competitive analysis:
- Identify your goals – what exactly you want to achieve by benchmarking? To compare the overall performance or you would like to focus on how your product search compares to similar features of competitors’ websites?
- Choose competitors, typically 2 to 3 are chosen, more than that can be expensive and overwhelming to analyze. Choose your direct competitors who provide the best user experience.
- Carry out steps 1-6 of the section about standard usability benchmarking.
- Carry out testing. Each participant should complete some tasks on 2-3 products (more is overwhelming), at the end of the session participants should be asked to comment on the products used and on how they compare, what they liked, what they found confusing (most unmoderated testing tools allow creating questions).
- Analyze results – see how well your product performs compared to its competitors. Unmoderated testing tools will easily provide data on KPIs, however, the main goal should not be to declare a winner, but to improve your design, thus look at the biggest strengths in competing designs, what trends arise across sites. Base your future design decisions on what you discovered to work well and avoid the mistakes your competitors make.
Expert reviews could also be used for competitor benchmarking, it is a cheaper alternative (lesson 8 discuses the limitations of it). A usability expert could evaluate the competing products, looking for relative strengths and weaknesses, trends, patterns and differences. It helps to identify what is missing in your product, where usability is inferior compared to competitors’. Reviews can be broad or narrow (focusing on a particular feature, e.g. checkout).