Competitive benchmarking is a great way to see how other organizations are trying to solve the same problem we are trying to solve. It can give us valuable insights into how we can design a better user experience.

In a customer value curve, though, we switch our focus from research to analysis. We use this competitive analysis tool to see how our product currently stacks up against the competition or how it could stack up in the future.

At a high level, we then know where out design efforts should be placed to see where we are falling short and where we can gain a competitive advantage.

How to Create a Customer Value Curve

A customer value curve consists of two axis and two lines to show the differences between our software and our competitors.

Customer Value Curve Example
An example of a customer value curve by Cloudera, a cloud data business.


Horizontal axis: Through user research we can identify key competitive factors – or in other words, what factors really matter to our users. These may include usability, security, trust and so on. We list these on the horizontal axis.

Vertical axis: On the vertical axis, we simply measure the quality of each factor by mapping out how well this quality is being met. The higher up it is mapped, the better we or our competitor is meeting that factor

Two (or more) Lines: As we plot how well a specific factor is being met by our software as well as our competitors two lines begin to form. The area between the two lines is where we should focus our design efforts.

Why Create a Customer Value Curve

Not many people seem to use customer value curves in the UX design process, but they certainly have a role to play and have a few unique benefits.

Strategic direction: At a high level, we can see where we should focus our design efforts

Data presentation: A customer value curve presents data in a way that non-designers can understand. Better yet, C-level executives, such as the CEO, CFO and COO, who make the decisions and write the checks, often prefer to see the bigger picture instead of getting bogged down into the nitty gritty like designers can, which is exactly what a customer value curve does

Competitive gaps: With a customer value curve it soon becomes clear that there are competitive gaps that we either need to close or can exploit

Identify differentiators: If our software does something very well, then that’s one thing. But if it also does it much better than our competitors, we can use it differentiate ourselves and use it as a unique selling point