How to make a half a trillion dollars

Subtle user experience improvements can make billions of dollars.

Why do some consumer social products finally make it big after a series of misses? Part of the magic often hides within user experience. Especially those that help people make fewer decisions and take fewer risks. 

Take short-form looping video. The road to TikTok success was paved by a litany of expensive failures from other successful media brands.

In 2012 Vine introduced six-second looping videos but failed to gain traction.

In 2013 Instagram launched fifteen-second looping videos but failed to gain traction.

In 2014 Mindie updated its looping video platform but failed to gain traction.

In 2016 ByteDance released Douyin in China and managed to gain 100 million users within a year.

In 2017 ByteDance merged with and then rebranded as TikTok and everything explodes.

In 2022 TikTok is one of the largest social media platforms on the web with over one billion users worldwide. It dethroned Google as the internet’s most visited website domain.

Why did TikTok succeed so outrageously when so many others failed? (Aside from the Chinese government owning a slice and three seats on the board.)

TikTok is designed pixel-by-pixel to help users make fewer decisions and take fewer risks. Essentially more rewards for fewer risks. It’s a winning combination.

While Vine required users to click through seven screens and input details and data all the way along, TikTok got to the good stuff by clicking just one button. No name, no email, no need to open an account. Just open the app and play.

Placing an enormous amount of decision-making baggage on users is a good way to lose half a trillion dollars.

The easier you make it for users to be successful, the more success you’ll have.

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