What your users really want

On April 27, 2013

Ask any tech entrepreneur for startup advice, and they'll tell you, "build something that your users really want".

Thanks to this advice we focus mostly on one thing, “What our users want?” while forgetting an equally important question, “How they want it?”

Because many times what they want is already out there in market, but how they want it may not be there.

If you ask your users, they can only tell you what they want. They won't necessarily tell you how they want it, because even they don't know it.

Products that do well, consider the “how” part as important as the “what” part.

Let's try to understand this with a common(and highly overused) example - iPhone.

Before iPhone, there were several other touch phones, and people just wanted a better one each time. But what they didn't knew, and couldn't tell, was how they wanted their touch phone to be? what expectations they had from it? and for what purpose they needed it?

Do you think apple, or any other company, could've made a great phone just by asking their users? They couldn't have. So they created something that users hadn't even asked for.

And no doubt, the iPhone was successful. And so have been plenty of products before and after it, that got the “how” part right in addition to the “what” part.

And you shouldn't consider the “how” as just an add-on. It's the necessary condition that your product must support, if it wants to satisfy the "what" part. Combine them, and you have a good product in your hands.

But isn't the “what” part enough to satisfy the users?

When you invent a product, you've good chance of succeeding just by solving the “what” part. But it won't take your competitors much time to build a similar product, and thus remove your dominance over the “what” part.

If you have to compete with them, you've to constantly innovate and focus on the “how” part as well. By focusing on “what” part you may succeed for a short time, but by additionally focusing on the “how” part, you'll remain successful for longer time.

To understand this, analyze your own behavior and experience of using applications.

Ask yourself what you do when you want something? You probably google it or search for it in app store. And when you find the first few matches that solve your problem, you download the best one out of them, and start using it.

When you first search a product, your main goal is to have something that does "what you want". Not "how you want it". The product does its job, and you move on without bothering to look for more options. So the “what you want” problem is solved.

Now once you start using your product, and if it's really good, then you're in luck and you don't have to search for alternatives. But if you feel that that product isn't exactly what you were looking for, you start searching again. This time you not only look for “what you want”, but for “how you want it”.

And now you'll only buy that application, which solves both these issues successfully. And the application which solves them, will be the one that ultimately wins.

This is where great designing and programming step in. They solve the “what” problem, plus the “how” problem. They unite good execution with good design.

If you're going to sell a product, you'll be competing with others on these two basic areas. And users will choose only that product, which solves their problem in the best possible way

So if you care for your users, then it's your job to make sure that the work you do, gives users what they really want.

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