Anticipating & Preemptively Addressing User Needs at Costco & Inside Safari [Good UX]

Product Background

  • Good products are similar to good teachers - they know the subject material so well that they anticipate where students/users will face challenges and provide guidance at exactly the right time.

  • Acting on this principle is often difficult for product teams because they understand the product so well, it is challenging to determine where a basic user might stumble or take an action that is sub-optimal.

  • If we as product managers can find those moments, they are often moments that surprise and delight users.

UX Experience

Two great examples of this, one from Costco, and one from Safari on MacOS:

  • Costco Gasoline Pump Open / Busy Indicator

    • Forgive the blurry picture, but at a Costco in San Diego, an Open/Busy LED illustrates to cars waiting in line which pumps are open or busy.

    • This is often difficult for a car not in the next position to determine for their line or the lines adjacent to theirs.

    • In theory, this proactively answers the question of whether the car two pumps ahead of mine has just pulled out, speeding up the process of gas buyers filling the next available pump station.

    • This is the first and only Costco, let alone gas station, where I have seen this indicator.

  • Safari User Prompt When Bookmarking Google

    • If as a user I try to create a bookmark for Google, Safari prompts the user that they can already search Google via the address bar without adding a bookmark.

    • This is interesting in a couple respects:

      • It is contextually aware of the goal that the user is trying to accomplish with the bookmark (searching), not just the content of the bookmark (Google).

      • It recommends the faster way of achieving the goal (searching) via the address bar.

      • And still allows the user to create the bookmark if they so choose.

    • Google appears to be the only search engine where this occurs (Yahoo, Bing, Yelp all did not trigger the prompt). This could actually be due to Safari obtaining a referral fee for searches from the address bar to Google whereas they do not receive any fee if it is from a Google address.