Keep Lowering the Bar: On Everything

Want to become a successful candidate, business, tool, whatever – then keep lowering the bar towards people interacting with you. Companies that raise the bar towards interaction with the business and the people involved in the business will eventually fail. No matter how large you are, the people want and enjoy easy access. Even if they don’t consciously realize it they will go for the business that has a lower bar to buy from.

Apple’s first genuine hit was the Macintosh with a graphic user interface that made it easy for everybody to understand how to interact with a computer and see what was going on. What sparked Ebay’s first real success ease of access, selling was quick and painless. If you didn’t sell well who cared it was junk anyways. YouTube lowered the bar towards sharing videos online, Flickr photos, Google searching, Obama to donate and get involved, the list goes on and on. Why is MasterCard adding the ability to pay with out even pulling out your card, ease of access towards that card. The easier it is to use your MasterCard the more likely you are to use it.

As a business you should not create artificial barriers towards letting your users interact with your business/product. This means provide lots of free samples, make it easy to get in touch with you, make your web site easy to navigate and fun to use.

If you are a software company make you applications easy for your customers to get their hands on and use. Interfaces should be clean and easy to grasp. Limit preferences, most of the time the defaults are just fine, the more settings you have the more chances you have to confuse your customers. If a customer can’t grasp an interface the user doesn’t need to be educated the interface needs to change.

I don’t know if the bar can ever be low enough or if it ever is too low, but the lower you make the bar the more likely you are to attract people to your product (be it software, hardware, food, information, skill, or even yourself) means that many more potential customers.

Thanks to Matt Cutts for the inspiration of this post based on his review of the Google Voice Search iPhone App. Specifically “The easier/faster it is to search, the more I searched.”

Justin Yost is a full-time Software Engineer and a part time educator. A graduate of Texas Tech University with a bachelor's degree in computer science, Justin relishes programming and learning more about anything and everything. When not working, Justin occasionally gives talks at the local PHP Meetup. In his free time, Justin enjoys backpacking and reading science fiction books.

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