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How do you make products better by making them worse?

Not that we need a reminder these days, but humans are pretty complicated creatures. This statement is general and true in many aspects, but since the scope here is short, I will concentrate on a narrow aspect: how do we perceive products as better while (intentionally!) creating a worse experience for us and deliberately creating difficulties and "friction" in the process.

Robert Priscu
User Experience
Customer Experience

In the 1950s, an American food manufacturer called General Mills released a winning product—a ready-made cake mix. The product included everything: flour, milk powder, egg powder, etc., just add water and put in the oven. GM was confident they had a winning product in hand, but sales didn't soar and studies the company carried out showed an obvious culprit - feelings of guilt. The American housewives, the target audience, felt that it was too easy, they "cheated" and the guilt feelings left them with baking on full. GM initially thought of campaigning against guilt, but they did something smarter. They removed the egg powder from the magic exhibit and added a caption on the box saying "Just add an egg." It turns out that adding this step in the process was enough to address the guilt (and also brought out a tastier cake, by the way) and sales soared.

Another company that "specializes" in creating an experience through friction comes from Sweden and you all know it - IKEA. They even have an effect named after them - the IKEA effect. The concept behind the Swedish experience (if you didn't know) is that when you put effort into something, you appreciate it more. A 2011 study showed that customers are willing to pay 63% (!) more (!) for products they assemble alone than for ready-made products. That's why they leave you the pleasure of assembling the furniture...

Have you ever been to a restaurant with such a grill in the middle of the table? It's an IKEA effect in the form of food. You work harder (Rabak, you come to the restaurant and you cook your own food!), the restaurant gets the food out faster (meat served raw), there are fewer returns because there are no problems of doing, and you? Everyone is told what a great experience you had.

The IKEA effect on digital?

Well, it turns out that if the "computer" didn't "work" hard enough, you don't believe the result is good enough. Sound silly? Irrational? Try searching for a flight deal on KAYAK, Travellist and others and see how hard the interface "struggles" to find you good deals... It's interesting that Booking finds hotels really fast... It's not that Booking's engineers are better or worse (and indeed there is a technological difficulty and it takes time to bring up-to-date results), but it turns out that if you bring us the flights too quickly, we don't believe that these are the best deals because we expect a little effort.

Another example? Payment apps. Believe it or not, an app that transfers payments too quickly scares users and feels insecure enough (what?! they already took my money?) so you deliberately put in some delay and some kind of "spinner who will pass the time to give you the feeling that they checked all your details, took care of your security and only then took your money and passed it on...

The bottom line - "value" is not absolute and certainly irrational, whoever offers products or services needs to create a reality that meets the expectations of customers.