Competitive Analysis

What is a Competitive Analysis?

Also known as a Competitor Analysis, the goal of a Competitive Analysis is to formally assess the market and your competition, so you can pull inspiration from what is already working for your competitors, and to avoid repeating what is not working for them.

Competitive Analyses typically include comparing the features, navigation, content, visuals, taxonomy, and/or usability of your competitors, and are a great way to see what consumers might expect from your product, and how your product can contribute to the market in a way others have not.

A person using their laptop with an SWOT diagram on the display.

What do you need for a Competitive Analysis?

timeTIME

  • Preparation: 30 minutes to create a list of competitors
  • Analysis: Around 20 minutes per competitor on your list
  • Presentation: 1-3 hours

materialsMATERIALS

Exactly what you need (and what you have on hand to use) will vary, but here is a list of the basic requirements:

  • A laptop or mobile device to view your competition
  • Paper, a spreadsheet program, or a text editor for notes
  • Presentation software

How do you run a Competitive Analysis?

Three people intently focused on one laptop screen.
  1. Step 1: Determine the competitive sites you want to evaluate

    You should first always talk with your key stakeholders (like your client or a product manager) and create a list of the competitive sites or apps they think you should evaluate. You should also add to this list by searching for your product’s keywords on multiple search engines and seeing what comes up most often. You can always return to your stakeholder to validate any found competitors if you are uncertain.
  2. Step 2: Create a list of user tasks to complete

    Write up a set list of tasks for you to complete with each competitor site or product. These should be tasks you expect your own users to complete regularly.
  3. Step 3: Document your thoughts and findings

    Go through each task with each competing product and make note of what works well and what does not. Take note of anything that stands out. You should also take screenshots at every step for your documentation and presentation. Take notes on wait times, difficulties, useful features, and poorly implemented features. Note the terminology used by competitors.
  4. Step 4: Find commonalities

    Find commonalities, both good and bad, between your competitors to determine what users will expect from your product.
  5. Step 5: Consider looking at user reviews

    If you are not sure if certain commonalities are good or bad, consider finding user reviews for these products to determine which commonalities users are happy with, and which could be improved upon. When designing your product, you should avoid deviating from commonalities that users are accustomed to and are happy with. Unfavorable commonalities, however, present opportunities or easy wins.
  6. Step 6: Prepare a presentation

    Prepare a presentation of your analysis so stakeholders and team members can see the issues and opportunities you have uncovered. Include a walkthrough of particularly enlightening tasks, and highlight anything that users found particularly delightful or problematic. Add a summary, with visuals, of all of the things you suggest should be used as inspiration for your product or site.
  7. Step 7: Present your analysis

    Schedule a presentation of your findings. A walkthrough of each task should only take a few minutes, but a half-day meeting allows you time to answer questions and discuss your findings in depth.

Tips for a great Competitive Analyses

  • Working with others? Create a spreadsheet with your competitors as the rows, and your tasks as the columns. This can be duplicated for anyone else, or you can divide it up by competitors and all work on the same spreadsheet.
A person looking at an analysis on their laptop.

More resources for Competitive Analysis

A/B TestingContextual Inquiry