Competitive audits are one of the many valuable steps you can take during the ideation process. A competitive audit is an overview of your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Analyzing the brands and products of competitors, or the companies who offer similar products as you do, can give you a well-rounded foundation of knowledge about the market your product will enter. That knowledge will carry into your designs and help you create a product that’s helpful and unique for users. As a UX designer, you’ll likely partner with folks from other teams, like marketing or product management, to run a competitive audit.
Your competition falls into two categories: direct and indirect. Direct competitors are companies that have offerings similar to your product and focus on the same audience. Indirect competitors can have a similar set of offerings and a different audience, or a different set of offerings with the same audience. Examining both of these competitors can offer insights about the path your designs might take and the users that you’re designing for.
Why are competitive audits important?
Consider how much work your direct and indirect competitors have already done to design and market their products to users. They’ve already had an impact on the industry that your product will enter. Studying these companies, their designs, and their user feedback is a fantastic source of information.
Competitive audits can offer many benefits throughout your ideation phase, including:
- Giving you an idea of products already in the market and their designs.
- Suggesting ideas to solve early problems that you’re facing with your own designs.
- Revealing the ways that current products in the market are not meeting users’ needs. This is a gap for your product to address!
- Demonstrating the expected life cycle of a product in the same market as yours.
- Informing all the different iterations your product could take and how those performed for your competitors.
With these benefits in mind, you can work with your team to identify the features and qualifications that you think are vital to your product. You’ll focus your audit on the parts of your own design that you want to learn the most about, like the user flow through your app or the navigation within the app. A little self-reflection about the designs you’re working on will set up your audit for success from the start.
You’re ready to begin!
By investing time into competitive audits, your team will be able to learn from the mistakes of your competitors and can avoid making those mistakes yourselves. Think of audits as a tool to help you create something for your users that’s completely different from the competition, combining all of the strengths of your competitors’ offerings into one fantastic product!
Want to explore competitive audits in more detail? Here are a couple of articles to help you keep digging: A Product Designer’s Guide to Competitive Analysis from Toptal and How to Conduct and Prepare a Competitive Analysis from Edward Lowe Foundation.