Focus on Users' Needs Rather Than on Your Software Product
Nobody cares about your software product. Really, nobody. Except you. But you are not the user, and the user does not care about your product.
Users care about themselves. Users care about getting something done. A shopper in search of a drill does not care about the drill itself, but rather the hole. Likewise, your users don’t care about the charming features you’ve doted over in your product; they care about accomplishing whatever your product promises to do for them, and do it fast.
Users don’t care to explore tax preparation software; they dream of their taxes being done so they can go hiking with their buddies or shopping with their girlfriends. Users arrive at your product eager to be done with it so they can move on to what they really want to do.
What does this mean for testers who aim to improve the value their product offers? Stop thinking about letting your users do stuff. Instead, think about giving your user a specific job to do. Give them a job that is obvious and low-friction so that they learn a little something about your product without giving a thought to the fact that they are learning.
Consider Twitter. Upon joining Twitter new users aren’t dispatched with the task of exploring Twitter. Instead, new users are told to follow some people immediately. Voila—the user has accomplished something that she believes will better her life, because that’s why she’s here in the first place, and she’s learned a basic concept of using Twitter.
When we focus on our software product rather than on what the user is trying to get done, we suffer from marketing myopia the same way that businesses that focus on selling products over meeting customers’ needs do. It can be a confusing distinction; obviously businesses want and need to sell products, just like we need to sell software. But again, think about the drill-and-the-hole illustration and the distinction becomes clear: Unless you are a drill aficionado, you really are thinking more about what the drill is going to do for you than the drill itself.
What the drill fundamentally offers you is a hopeful experience. Perhaps you want to hang that family photo, convert the garage into a space for a new business, or spend time with your son working on projects together.
Like drill marketers, we must view our software through the lens our users do: as a means to an end. We must understand what that end is, even when the user may not fully understand what that end is, and we must think about how the user can get there faster and easier.
Take care of your users’ needs first, and then, just maybe, they will explore your other fabulous features.