So now that you know who your competition is and who you want to benchmark, how do you do that? Well, first get your hands on all of the competitive apps. Download them. Play with them. A lot. You should know them as well as their developer does. After you’ve got a solid understanding, write down a list of everything they do. Be as detailed as possible. Use the individual feature lists to make one list of all the features of all of the competitor apps, then rate or rank how each of them do. Don’t forget things like price, availability, accessibility, design, look, and feel. They are definitely features too! Take lots of screen shots too. Mark them up. Make notes on things you like and don’t like.
There are many ways to analyze all of that data. Here are three:
Strengths & Weaknesses
You’ll have a great place to start to create a list of strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Minimally you need to match their strengths. If your app isn’t at least as good as theirs, why bother?? So, consider their strengths for possible inclusion on your own feature list. Their weaknesses also offer insight into how you can beat them. Can you improve on their weakness? Can you offer features/benefit that they don’t offer but that customers will value? Can you make it easy for customers to switch? Can you change the business model?
Go back to your scenarios, test the scenarios in each of the competitive apps. How do they do? Can they be done? Did they come up with a good way to do it? Was it hard to do? Using the scenarios helps you focus on the important things your audience is going to want to do rather than an often bloated feature set.
Another opportunity for analyzing the competition is to look at how their features meet (or do not meet) the needs of your audience. Take the feature list you just created and compare that to the audience analysis you started with. How do each of the features meet the needs of your audience. If they don’t, it’s possibly a feature that could be dropped. If it matches to an important need, then it may be one to pay special attention to. For example, if your audience is budget conscious, do any of the features meet that need? If so, consider adding them. If not, maybe a feature can be added to address that.
Whether it’s strengths and weaknesses, scenario testing, or needs alignment, we’ll use the results to help us inform our own feature list. More on that in upcoming posts…