WHAT IS IT?
Benchmarking studies measure your baseline and track how well your design and functional changes affect the user experience. Competitor benchmarking is used to better understand how well your site performs compared to your most important competitors. The competitive analysis offers you a way to interpret your usability standing in reference to the competition.
WHEN TO BE USED?
Competitor benchmarks are most useful at the beginning of a UX project. They are equally valuable in markets that you think you understand and are unfamiliar with. The benchmark is supposed to help you and your stakeholders understand the competition in terms of their strengths and weaknesses. You can then take on some of their strengths while attempting to overcome any weaknesses identified.
A competitor benchmark can be used to enter a new market, as a way of testing the water and to help pinpoint opportunities. It can also be used when you already have a product (in fact, in this scenario, you would want to include your product in the benchmark) in the market.
Competitor benchmarks are generally a quick and easy exercise to conduct; they won’t normally take much more than a day’s work to complete.
HOW TO CONDUCT A COMPETITOR ANALYSIS?
- Define Your Requirements
Before you conduct a competitor benchmark, you need to be very clear about what you intend to learn from the exercise. This helps you pick the best methodology and approach to use. It’s best to agree to this with your internal/external client before you go ahead and conduct the benchmarking program. Once you have a clearly defined objective, benchmarking is much easier.
- Define Who to Benchmark Against
You may know who your main competitors are or your client may; if they don’t, you can normally work out who the leaders in a particular field are by conducting Internet research. You might also want to consider including a couple of benchmarks from outside the industry, this can offer some fresh insights from other sectors to help define other areas of strength and weakness.
- What will you Compare?
A lot depends on the types of product, industry, and what you want to know. The following list offers some starting points, but it is by no means a definitive collection. It’s supposed to get you thinking along the right lines:
- Search Engine Rankings for specific terms
- The appearance of the site
- Value proposition (including pricing)
- Calls to action
- How easy it is to contact the supplier
•How easy is it to navigate to specific information
- How secure does the process feel
- Is there some form of easy to access support
- How much information is captured
- What do you feel are the strengths/weaknesses of your experience.
- Create a Spreadsheet
You can create a table in Excel quickly and easily; list your competitors along one axis and the measured criteria on the other. Be sure to leave a general comments line at the bottom of your criteria list; you will use this for notes during individual reviews.
- Start Reviewing. One at a time, go down the criteria list while looking through the application and enter your responses. It can be helpful to use a double screen with the application on one view and the spreadsheet on the other. Take your time and try to be as observant as possible; you are looking for both good and bad points to report. As you review, write down notes on what you liked, what annoyed you and any interesting widgets you see. Take screen captures of interesting or relevant screens as you do each review.
- Prepare the Analysis. Create an outline of the review document including a summary area and a section for each individual review. Paste the assessment results and your notes from the spreadsheet into the document and use as a starting point for writing the report. You may need to grab additional screen captures of specific things that will be in your evaluation.
- Summarize your Insights. Now that you have the reviews done, you can look back what data pops out as most relevant. Some of the criteria results can be translated into summary charts and graphs to better illustrate the information.
- Share your Analysis. Once you have your understanding, you need to share it with some of the stakeholders and make certain you have a mutual understanding.
Below is a competitor analysis for health informative website.