Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Why You Should Get Feedback from Your End-User, Then Ignore Most of It

Businesspundit wrote an interesting post about Why You Should Get Feedback, Then Ignore Most of It.

It reminded me of user-centered design or those early conceptual stages when you are developing a software or web-based application (what do we make?) or after a release that hasn't created the firestorm you were expecting (what went wrong?).

We all want to know that the work we are doing is valued and meets a specific need, but we often take the customer's voice too much to heart when we're creating new products or finding out why one failed. I've written about this many times before, but usually what the customer wants is not often what they need. The context in which they use the product and the specific tasks they are wishing to do are not fully taken into account.

The Businesspundit post goes on to say that if you were to take every little suggestion the customer offers to improve your product or to create a new one, you'll never make any progress. The old saying is very true - you can't please everybody.

Two suggestions are made in this post when you are in the process of conducting some market research on your product (whether pre or post):

First, look for overwhelming consensus. If the end-users are leaning more in one direction use it to validate or dispel your assumptions. Second, look for a nugget of knowledge you may not have been aware of.

In the end, you'll make sure the product you are working on meets the needs of the end-user in how they use it, when they use it and where they use it.

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