27 March 2011
Form Over Function? At Your Peril
Thee battle of form over function has probably been raging for aeons. Ever since Man invented the wheel - and probably even before that. In the world of Travel we too often have used Form as a solution to solve one of many issues - not least of which is homogenized product delivery. This applies to search. In search today we argue that Price is the leading driver. As our result it has become a form of self fulfilling prophecy. We search for product based on price because we can. We dont bother thinking about value because we dont have a way to determine value easily in search.
Many moons ago when my team built a hotel shopping engine - we took the opportunity to provide a form that suited a function that people wanted. The result was that consumers invariably traded up. The suppliers in the shopping engine who provided the lowest priced products and had built their shopping functions around lowest price were a tad ticked off about that.
On the web we have explored almost every version of the 1.0 of price based search - we now need to drive to a different tune. We need to find a way to differentiate and show value. Of course value is a very subjective term. One woman's value is another man's poison.
I think there are a wide number of possible ways to address this. Not least of which is to comprehend what the consumers actually want rather than forcing them down a particular path.
I urge you to read the attached piece from Gerry McGovern this week which addresses this very topic.
Then I want you to and take a LONG HARD LOOK at your product offering and the way you communicate it. Apply the best standards of User Experience (UX) but start from the perspective of looking at what you are doing vs what you hope to achieve.
I think this will start a move to a more appropriate form of dialogue with the customer. In today's Social Media fueled world - failing to do this will cause lots of tears. Even wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Many thanks for reading. I hope that this and my other contributions have been able to improve your product offering and create a better market for Travel Products and Services