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Dear companies: Improve user experience or else…

May 6, 2011, 9:30 PM UTC

By Scott Maxwell, contributor

I picked up this tweet this morning from Scott Kirsner…

Then I came to the Seattle Airport for my flight back to the East Coast. I checked in with the Jet Blue kiosk and realized how slow it seemed. I realized that what used to seem like an amazing experience is now frustrating.

What happened?

The problem didn’t used to be a problem, but now that many products and websites are dramatically improving their user experience (with really good interaction designers and a lot of user experience research), all of the companies that are not improving at the same pace are starting to seem old and archaic.

It seems that a lot of companies start by focusing on product and development, get to the expansion stage and then focus their attention on sales and marketing to expand, get to the later growth stage and focus on the financial results. Somehow, the product management process gets left behind.

What if?

– What if I could just go to the airport kiosk, swipe my card, press a “quick ticket” button and my ticket printed off the machine?

– What if I went to the ATM, swiped my card, punched in my PIN, pressed a “same as last time” button, and got my cash?

– What if you figured out what you could do to dramatically improve your user experience and then did it?

Scott is right that we are now expecting constant improvement. When we get it with some products and not with others, we notice.

Your customers are using products that are improving constantly. If you are not improving your user experience at a rapid rate, you are going to suck!

Scott Maxwell is a co-founding partner of OpenView Venture Partners