Prioritize the #1 Experience


Mark Hurst wrote a great article in his Good Experience Newsletter and Blog…

He contrasted two types of experiences. Excerpt…

Which of these is a better experience?


1. When you walk into the restaurant, the hostess welcomes you warmly and takes you to your table. The interior decoration and overall ambience are attractive and comfortable; the food is delicious.

Or, at a different restaurant…

2. The restaurant is called “The Jungle Experience.” Upon entering, the hostess asks you how many are in your “safari.” As you sit at your table, a fine mist of water sprays from a sprinkler hidden in the plastic foliage surrounding the dining area. The menu items are all named after rare tropical animals. You have the simulated experience of dining in a jungle, although the food isn’t very good.

He gives another example, and then what a #1 vs. #2 experience looks like on a web site…


1. You’re able to access the product you want in a few seconds, thanks to prominent links with obvious titles. The search function brings back accurate and helpful results. The simple product page makes it easy to compare different products, and then it’s easy to choose a product and check out. Overall, the experience is quick and easy.

Or, at a different website…

2. You’re impressed by the attractive logo and the colorful appearance of the page. It looks similar to the colors and graphics in the TV commercials for the company’s products. There are lots and lots of features available on every page. Everything has a very professional appearance. Overall, you get the strong impression that the company spent a lot of money on the website. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find the product you want.

Mark states, “I’ve had this conversation with many clients over the years. In many cases, the focus on the *basics* – customers’ basic needs at each moment – is THE differentiating factor between successful and failing companies. In fact, companies who invest more in the “wow factor” almost always take resources *away* from focusing on those more important (if visually less exciting) issues.”

I couldn’t agree more. Amazon did not add trivia questions, inside book search, gold box, and all the stores until they were confident they could sustain and improve their basics as well.

I’ve worked with many online agencies who wanted to do #2 before we solidifed the #1 experience. Although you could lament the pace of innovation, we were innovative in managing for results. We were innovative with the way we used metrics. And therefore, we couldn’t argue with what we knew customers wanted and what drove the business. Mastering the basics was the right priority. That was innovative!

Building a strong customer experience is a constant battle of choices between effort to consistently meet and exceed the basics before getting fancy. First be confident you’ve built a strong foundational experience and can sustain and improve that foundation. Then venture off into fancy land!

One Response

  1. Mark Hurst says:

    I agree with everything you wrote 🙂

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