Monday, June 18, 2007

Because What End-Users Say and What They Do are Two Different Things

Businesspundit reported on how Businessweek revisited Clayton M. Christensen's book The Innovator's Dilemma ten years after it was first published. Has anything changed? Maybe not, but the article describes what end-users say and what they actually do are two different things. This is something that innovators of new products often face realize after it is too late.

When we get wrapped up in trying to build the next great piece of software, website or web application, we tend to focus in on what the customer is telling us to identify what or how to build the product (their needs). What we don't do often enough is take a long, hard look at the context or environment the customer derives their needs from. The situations they face and obstacles they are trying to overcome often tell us much more about the actual needs.

Anthony Ulwick, in his book What Customers Want goes into great detail about how the discrepancy between what customers say they want in a product and what they really need is true. He used the example of Motorola. Rather than creating one product that highlighted all the features and functions of their total pool of end-users, they based their product lines on end-user needs and came up with a number products that satisfied specific groups based on the context in which they would use them.

This is a prime example of user-centered design creating usable products that are true needs - not something driven by market research and demographics.

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