One of my hobbies is managing a small but growing portfolio of stocks and among my better performing investments of the past few years has been Apple (APPL). Accordingly, I read a fair amount of news and commentary in the business and investment press with regards to whether Apple will continue to grow, or whether it’s peaked.
The key to success for Apple, which some analysts seem to miss, is their user experience. Beginning with the macintosh computer, later with the iPod, and followed by the iPhone, Apple created a unique, user-friendly experience that literally changed the game. The iTunes store revolutionized how music was sold. The Apple App Store revolutionized how to make smart phones smarter and, in the process, made them indispensible to our various lifestyles. By the way, Apple just announced the App Store’s 10 billionth download. How would you like that kind of web traffic?
The Apple Stores with their Genius Bars, clean, ultra-modern layouts and knowledgeable personnel have similarly changed the retail landscape for high-tech products. While it’s still too early to predict the final outcome, it will come as no surprise if the iPad manages to revolutionize our lives as a business, communications, entertainment, healthcare and educational tool.
I bring all this up because there have been similar visionaries at work at Roland. From the beginning, there was a realization that just manufacturing and selling a machine wasn’t enough. What users really needed was an easy-to-use solution for producing lots of things they could sell. Thus, we were one of the first inkjet manufacturers to include a purpose-built RIP. Today, tens of thousands of signmakers, fine artists, vehicle restylers, label makers and packaging designers are using Roland VersaWorks to assist their workflow, including managing color, printing variable data, contour cutting and much, much more.
Thousands of product designers are using Roland’s SRP Player software bundled with our milling machines to transform their CAD files to CAM files with no CNC programming required. Our engravers and cutters likewise come bundled with software to make getting the work out quick and easy.
Of course, the user experience doesn’t end with just hardware and software. In addition to our products, Roland has added service and support, including extended warranties and an online store to make finding accessories and media easy to find. We’ve also devoted considerable resources to educating our users. We were the first in many of our product categories to offer workshops, videos and webinars. Today, our Born To Wrap classes are typically sold out weeks if not months in advance.
Focusing on the user experience is not rocket science. But whether you’re investing in stocks, buying a product, or selling one, it is pretty smart.
Is there something you could do to improve your users’ experience that will keep them coming back for more? How about including instructions for hanging that banner? Maybe adding a retail price sticker or tag to garments, or putting every team member’s jersey in individual bags to make distribution easier?
I’d like to hear what you do to improve your users’ experience.