How many of your customers would be very disappointed if one of your products ceased to exist tomorrow? How many would register it only momentarily before replacing it with something that, as far as they’re concerned, is more or less interchangeable? My guess would be that (in the majority of cases) they would be only marginally inconvenienced, and this is something of an inconvenient truth in ELT publishing. Right now, we’re witnessing Product/Market Fill, when what we should be aiming for is Product/Market Fit. What does that mean, and what can publishers do about it?
Frustration, anger, confusion, boredom and repetition are all hallmarks of bad user experience (UX); unfortunately, they’re often hallmarks of language learning too, especially when it takes place digitally. But bad UX is not the only reason digital language learning products fail – sometimes it’s the content, sometimes it’s the pedagogy, sometimes it’s the lack of human interaction. Bad UX alone fails to address the complexities of language learning. We need to start talking about bad learner experience (LX). Bad LX could be defined in a number of ways, but at its most basic it’s this: not only did you fail to learn something; you had a horrible time trying.
Publishers often seem to struggle to look beyond content as the primary driver of their products, while for tech companies it’s often not much more than an afterthought. End result? Products that fall flat, create poor experiences and don’t live up to their full potential. How can we move towards a more unified product-driven approach?