You can carry out this analysis before starting a new design project. For example, suppose you are working on a new music streaming app. In that case, you can use competitive analysis to see how Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud, and Amazon Music are tackling specific aspects of what you're trying to do with your app.
Types of competitors
As a UX designer, you can analyze two different types of competitors. Let's take a look at both now.
Direct competitors consist of products or services that do what you aim to do. Your idea or upcoming product has the same customers, and your competitors offer a similar product to yours.
Indirect competitors offer a different product that can solve the same problem your product is trying to solve.
How to do a competitive analysis
Conducting a competitive analysis is a lot of work. But in the end, it'll make your life as a UX designer a lot easier. Here's how to do it step-by-step.
Step 1 - Understand and set your goals
Understand why you're doing this research activity. What do you hope to achieve? For example, your goal could be saving time by using what works well for your competitors in your product.
Keep your goals in mind when carrying out the upcoming steps of your analysis.
Step 2 - Know your competitors
List the direct and indirect competitors you want to analyze. A good number of competitors to start with is between 3 and 5. You can always refine and add more later.
If you're unsure who your competitors are, you can always ask your stakeholders. There's a good chance that they have a good overview of who their competitors are.
Step 3 - Look for overlap among competitors
Look at the following aspects when comparing other products or services.
Tone of voice.
Good and bad features.
Do you see an overlap somewhere? If so, that's an important insight to take with you to the next step.
Step 4 - Analyse and summarise
Now it's time to gather all the insights and summarise them. Create a summary that highlights the most important insights you gathered.
This step is ideal for identifying design opportunities because you start to understand competitors' strengths and flaws.
For example, if there's a recurring tone of voice among your competitors, that's something to analyze further. Apparently, it works well for your competitors, so you might also have to use that.
You can use the summary to back design decisions in front of other stakeholders and team members.
Step 5 - Present
The final step of a competitive analysis is to present your findings to your stakeholders. Create a document that contains all the interesting information backed up with evidence.
This helps to get stakeholder buy-in, which is important for the future of your UX design project.
Useful tips for your analysis
Here's a list of tips and tricks from other UX designers when conducting a competitive analysis.
Don't copy the designs you see. Even though your competitors might be successful in what they do, your project is different and might require another design approach.
Use your analysis as inspiration only. It should help you get started, but nothing more.
Know when to perform a competitive analysis. For example, explore the best calendar scheduling solutions if you're designing a solution that includes a calendar scheduling feature.
Frequently asked questions
Up until this point, we know what a competitive analysis is from a UX designer's perspective. Let's take a look at some frequently asked questions.
Why is a competitive analysis important?
By understanding how other companies approach a certain problem, you can design a new solution that makes use of what already works well. It can be a massive timesaver for your design project.
It can also show you where your competitors leave room for improvement. You can make full use of that and differentiate yourself from your competition that way.
When do I need to carry out a competitive analysis?
There are two factors to consider when you're thinking about conducting a competitive analysis. The first is timing within the project, and the second is whether you should do the research at all.
First of all, the competitive analysis is one of the earliest research steps in the design process. You can do the analysis before starting to work on a new project. It'll help you plan your project more efficiently.
Since new competitors can emerge at any time, you can iterate on your competitive analysis and continue as long as you're working on that project. You never know what you could find!
And second, you can do a competitive analysis when you're working on a big project with many competitors. Involve your stakeholders in making this decision.
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