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Usefulness vs. Easy to Use


Can you recall the first time you grappled with a flat-pack furniture kit? Assembling it might have felt like a Herculean task at first. But once you realized how it would provide you a much-needed storage solution at a fraction of a cost, you were willing to brave the complexity. This speaks volumes about "usefulness".


Jeff Sauro, an expert in the realm of user experience, opines that usefulness is a more potent determinant of product adoption than its usability or ease of use. His viewpoint is rooted in the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), a landmark research conducted by Fred Davis in the early 90s. Davis discovered that usefulness outweighed usability by 1.5 times in predicting the actual use of a product.


The Magic of Usefulness

A key ingredient in delivering top-notch CX is offering a product or service that resonates deeply with customers' needs. Usefulness, or the ability to solve a problem, fill a gap, or provide something of value, can forge a stronger bond between the brand and its consumers.


Consider Amazon, for example. Despite having a complex website with an array of categories and options, people flock to it because of its sheer usefulness. Its ability to offer virtually any product, combined with rapid delivery, has made it an indispensable tool for many of us.


Decoding Usefulness

Sauro discusses the TAM as a valuable tool to assess usefulness. It comprises six criteria to evaluate usefulness and another six for ease of use. By asking a series of questions, it can predict how well a product might fit into a user's life or work.

But caution is needed while interpreting these metrics. As Sauro notes, people's predictions of their future behavior can be unreliable. However, these behavioral metrics are often the best data we have and can be useful predictors.


Usefulness in Action for Superior CX

Businesses can integrate this insight in several ways:

  1. First, make a concerted effort to measure usefulness. Present the TAM items to your users or potential users to gauge the fitment of your product. Monitor changes over time to see how changes in features correspond to changes in reported use. Tesla, for instance, has greatly benefited from this approach. Despite being a newcomer in a well-established industry, it predicted the usefulness of its electric vehicles and gained a significant market share. The promise of eco-friendly transportation, coupled with high-performance specs, made their cars incredibly useful in the eyes of consumers.

  2. Secondly, utilize TAM data to predict usage and adoption. Surveying users with TAM items before and after a product launch can reveal how well usage was predicted. This information can guide future product iterations and amplify the overall CX.

  3. Finally, generate internal benchmarks using TAM data. Such benchmarks can be a powerful tool when prioritizing products, planning resources, and making strategic decisions, ultimately driving a more compelling customer experience.


Usefulness offers a potent tool for enhancing customer experience. Usefulness, when woven into a product or service, makes it an integral part of a user's life, fostering a lasting bond between the customer and your brand. Read the original article here

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