When creating a digital product, keep in mind that innovations will be successful if they solve existing challenges or problems for the target group. So it's not really about the cutting-edge technology that makes a product last. It's the concept behind it. It is the solution that it offers.

Because you are designing for your customers or users, they are an important source of information for identifying needs and deficits and developing solutions. You must involve them in the product development process, or do "co-creation."


But how does co-creation work in practice, and does it actually result in change? Take a look at this article to find out why we should try co-creating, how to co-create a product with customers, and also learn about a successful co-creation case study from IKEA.

What is co-creation?

Customer co-creation
Source: https://gits.id/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/ux-indonesia-qC2n6RQU4Vw-unsplash-e1593512898333.jpg

Co-creation takes place when a business includes outsiders in the ideation and development process.

Most businesses keep new products and processes strictly internal; some even go to great lengths to keep them hidden. On the other hand, co-creation enables businesses to collaborate outside of the business to gather new ideas and break free from their own bubble. They recognize that they do not have all of the answers and thus seek advice from others. The goal is simple: to approach problems from a new perspective in order to create a better product.

Why co-create with customers?

Customer co-creation
Source: https://stock.adobe.com/sg/images/ux-designer-hands-holding-empathize-and-prototype-words-on-sticky-notes-user-experience-design-process-concept/278375241

One simple answer: You’re creating products for your customers.

By incorporating customers and their desires into the innovation process, the likelihood of product success and customer loyalty to the brand can be increased. If users are not deliberately involved in the design process, then the resulting digital solutions may be less accessible, relevant and useful to them.

Furthermore, customers or users are more likely to love your products if their suggestions are taken seriously and even developed. According to McKinsey, while some people are motivated by money or prizes, more people participate in co-creation because they are curious (28%) or want to entertain themselves (26%).

Aside from increasing customer satisfaction, taking into account customers' ideas from the start has the potential to reduce uncertainties, costs, and time while developing. 

Learning about co-creation from IKEA Effect

Have you ever heard of the IKEA Effect? Harvard researchers coined the term to describe a cognitive bias that occurs when people place a higher value on products that they helped create. The term comes from a Swedish furniture retailer known for selling products that require customers to assemble them. 

The team describes the experiment's results as follow:

“Two groups were given IKEA boxes, with one group given fully-assembled versions, and the other given unassembled boxes, which they were told to put together. This second group were willing to pay more for their box during the subsequent bidding process than those with pre-assembled boxes.”

Customer co-creation
Source: https://medium.com/choice-hacking/how-the-psychology-of-co-creation-hooks-customers-330570f115

Based on this, you can try to keep the IKEA effect in mind when developing a user-centric product, especially during the research phase. Remember that you and your team are not mind readers, and innovations are successful if they solve existing challenges or problems for the target users.

This is especially important when the target users are far from your or your product development team's background. So, rather than making assumptions about them, why not let them help you by sharing their insights?

How to co-create products with customers?

Co-creation with customers or users can take many forms, such as assembling the finished product (if it's a physical product), coming up with new product ideas, solving problems, or even providing insights into the existing design.

Some ways to do co-creation:

Find the right group of participants.
Have a meeting with them (an interview or FGD) where you can explain your intention, they can give you insights, and both of you can continue the discussion.
With your team, use the ideas and comments of the participants as stimulus.
Go back to the users for testing and to gain their feedback again.

Customer co-creation
Source: https://bootcamp.uxdesign.cc/co-creation-drive-ux-research-with-your-stakeholders-and-make-it-fun-e30c694432e3

However, when conducting a co-creation design process, keep your target users' backgrounds in mind. Some users may require more guidance in the design process if they have less exposure to and confidence in using digital technology. 

Make sure that neither you nor the facilitators assume that everyone in the room understands the various types of technology or technological platforms. When possible, avoid using technical jargon and provide examples. You should approach them in a less intimidating way.

Case Study: Pintarnya

Here at Natuno, we always say, "Stop guessing and start testing." One of our experiences was conducting user research and designing the Pintarnya job search platform. Their goal was to create a one-stop job search platform for Indonesian blue collar workers.

Customer co-creation

In the blue-collar segment, to find a job, one will usually depend on information spread by word of mouth. Existing online channels also provide a lot of vacancy information; it's just that a lot of it is not verified, and not even a few of them end up deceiving job seekers.

However, on the other hand, employers also have quite a serious gap in reaching prospective workers. They need a reliable platform for identifying, verifying, and hiring workers. To address this issue, we assisted them in developing a user-friendly job-search platform.

We started our design process by co-creating with our target users to learn about their perspectives. We walked down the streets, attempting to approach workers from various industries looking for work and soliciting their opinions. Participants made important design decisions about what information or features should be included. In addition to interviews, we conducted real tests.

Overall, co-creation and design with users are critical components of any digital product development process. End users must be prioritized in the design process to ensure that the digital solution is relevant to them, meets their needs, and provides an enjoyable user experience.

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