Let me first describe what I mean by ‘repeat‘ user. I think there might be a better term to describe this kind of a user, but the term is escaping me right now. By repeat user I mean the user of the product who has already used or checked out the product once and now is returning back to use it one more time. Hope you are able to relate to the category of product user I am referring to here. Almost all of us have been in this category one time or the other.
For the sake of this post, let me refer to the repeat user as Mr. X.
In my opinion and experience (both from the experience of engineering a product and also from being an end-user of the product), the perspectives of X towards his needs for the product are quite different as compared to what it could have been when he would have seen/used the same product for the first time. It is also well known and well understood that the success of a product – both from usage and commercial angle – is measured more from the repeat user perspective (and not from the first-time user perspective). I am not saying that the first-time user’s needs are not important. The requirements of first-time user needs to be understood well also because they are the ones who would translate into repeat users if things go well.
So what is so different from a product design perspective between the ‘first-time user’ and ‘repeat user’? First-time users are more keen on exploration. Repeat users are more keen on focusing on the regular functionality. A sophisticated design can certainly impress the first time user, however simplicity and ease is the key for a repeat user. As a repeat user for many products, if I were to quantify my usage, more than 75% of my interaction with the product is of a repeat type. Something which I have already done once and I am just repeating the same tasks again. My requirements from the product are now as to how it enhances my activity needs based on my usual usage patterns.
In my experience, I have noticed many product designers failing to think about the product from Mr. X’s perspective. Best products are those which keeps in mind the needs of this user. It is my strong opinion that in the end it is users like Mr. X who finally decide the fate of the product.