Product “Stickiness” is a Design Challenge

In November 2006, Wesabe launched as a site to help people manage their personal finances. This was 10 months before Mint. Three years later, Intuit acquired Mint For $170 Million and Wesabe shut down.

What happened, according to co-founder Marc Hedlund, was not a business flumble but a design one. “It was far easier to have a good experience on Mint, and that good experience came far more quickly. [No great vision or features] matter if the product is harder to use, since most people simply won’t care enough or get enough benefit from long-term features if a shorter-term alternative is available.”

Dave McClure, founder of 500 startups, said that (source). “Addictive user experience and scalable interactions are the most critical components of success in consumer internet startups, not pure engineering talent.” Isolating and expanding upon the addictive “sticky” qualities of products is what any good designer worth their weight in stock options does.

In a similar vein, venture capitalist Brad Feld recently wrote about the important distinction between aesthetic design and functional design: “I’ve come to appreciate the importance of a single person in the company owning the UX with this person being the arbiter of discussion around how to implement the UX. There’s nothing wrong with lots of different perspectives, but a single mind has to own it, synthesize it, and dictate the philosophy.”