The Difference Between a Good Tech Product and a Great One


Tech products have evolved from just being tools that get the job done. Today, tech has the power to foster exciting and enjoyable experiences. Josh Hart of YuLife explores how emotions can help build products that users truly love.

Tech products have evolved from just being tools that get the job done – today, tech has the power to foster exciting and enjoyable experiences that truly engage and delight us. While technological innovations have facilitated this development thanks to the power of emotions, this shift has really taken hold.  

Whether it’s B2B enterprise tech streamlining workplace processes or B2C tech helping users overcome everyday problems, high-tier functioning has traditionally been the hallmark of the most impactful tech products. 

However, there’s an emotional element that comes in parallel with this function-forward outlook – user enjoyment, an X-factor that prompts strong customer relationships, often distinguishing a good tech product from a great one. By tapping into our natural desire for pleasure and purpose, gamification, the integration of challenge-and-reward mechanics into non-gaming platforms,  has shown us that functionality can be fun. And why not? Life is too short to settle for boring and mundane experiences.

As this trend takes hold, it is exciting to see more and more companies embracing a “feeling-first” approach to product development. By putting our emotions and enjoyment front and center, these trailblazers are unlocking the full potential of their products and creating experiences that we love to use and keep people coming back for more.

Tech is becoming more engaging, enjoyable, and fun, one emotion at a time.

See More: From Open Source to Open Work: What True Agility Takes

Feelings Go a Long Way

This emotional shift is not necessarily taking hold across all sectors –  some industries struggle to balance functionality with emotional appeal, while others seem to effortlessly integrate the two. 

One industry that exemplifies the struggle between feeling-first and product-centric methods is banking. Within the last decade, waves of digital-first or digital-only banks have emerged across geographical markets to disrupt legacy banks. Although these stylized newcomers have modernized the functionality of banking services, they’ve often missed the opportunity to redefine the relationship between financial brands and their users.

But there’s a notable exception that’s paving the way for what a banking experience can truly become: KakaoBank.

Where many of these banks fell short, the South Korean internet brand Kakao has succeeded. Famously known for its nationally popular messaging service, KakaoTalk, the company launched its first digital-only bank, KakaoBank, in 2017 and integrated it with KakaoTalk, enabling users to easily import their contacts to conduct financial transactions with one another. 

Since then, Kakao has captured the hearts of more than 11 million users by not just offering modern banking services with lower interest rates but because of the brand’s ability to emotionally resonate with its audience – which they accomplish through Kakao Friends, an entourage of popular and relatable lifestyle characters. 

Similarly, the automotive industry has long banked on emotional appeal to sell cars. But ever since vehicles started to include advanced software features, automakers have been trying to personalize driving experiences even further to deepen the relationship between the person and the machine.  

And when it comes to innovative emotional connections, few examples are better than the latest concept car from BMW, the i Vision Dee. It’s not just a sleek and advanced vehicle – it’s also designed to be your personal companion on the road. With features like virtual friend invitations and personalized driving experiences, BMW is taking the automotive industry to the next level of emotional appeal. 

The goal is to transform customers’ perception of their cars from a simple mode of transportation into a full-fledged companion. Time will tell if this feature will help drive sales even further, but it’s already a testament to the strides companies are taking to invoke emotional connections with their products. It’s inspiring to see how companies across the board are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in creating meaningful products. Who knows what other amazing innovations are just around the corner?

Helping People to Better Meet Their Needs

Emotional Design can improve a wide variety of products, from helping people to eat healthier to stopping smoking to meditation. Incorporating emotional design goes hand in hand with Behavioral Design, as it is also about mechanisms to change people’s behavior.

To be effective, tech products created using emotional design must be high on the following aspects:

  • Functionality: Tech products must have a benefit for the user. It should solve a problem, satisfy a need or have another clearly recognizable value so users have a good and simple reason to use the product.
  • Reliability: Technology should work as users expect it to work based on common conventions. There are no unpleasant surprises or complex interfaces.
  • Usability: Users must be able to use tech products intuitively without major barriers. A usable interface is well thought-out, simple and clear, so it requires only a low cognitive effort from the users.

For users to find joy or delight in tech products, the foundational needs mentioned above are critical. It all comes down to designing straightforward human experiences, and then the fun can begin.

Book Smart vs. Street Smart

Today, most product developers’ efforts are geared towards refining and expanding existing software platforms, the majority of which aim to resolve specific business anomalies or pain points. As such, workflows are generally dictated by a set of textbook approaches to problem-solving. 

But just because a product functions well doesn’t mean it will automatically elicit a positive emotional response among users, and that ultimately jeopardizes customer retention. In other words, it takes more than science to evoke deeper connections with the end user – it also calls for empathy. When I interview prospective job applicants, I ask a simple question: “What have you built that didn’t previously exist?” Their answers to that question can reveal a lot about their aspirations for innovation – whether their goal is to just pile on to the organization’s current tech suite or to go the extra mile to create category-defining products.

Tasking newly minted developers with creating products that are enjoyable to use is essential to building successful products, but a surprisingly large number of industry professionals can’t easily wrap their heads around this request. 

Therefore, tech education should foster an additional skill set based on understanding users’ emotional responses to product features, and business leaders should consider hiring personnel who demonstrate a people-centric, feeling-first approach to product development.

Do you think emotions play an important role in building user-centric tech tools? Share your thoughts on FacebookOpens a new window , X (TwitterOpens a new window ), and LinkedInOpens a new window . We’d love to hear from you!

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