The art of product

Getting from ideas to delighted customers

I cannot describe my wheelchair

I typically say to my team “do not ask people if they like or would buy something, instead find out why anyone cares and what they care about”.

You start by dividing what people say into two categories; that which you can trust and that which you cannot.

Two types of Statement

You can start by dividing what people say into two categories; that which is future/conditional based or quantitative-in-nature (I would definitely buy this, I like this page) and that which is past-tense. If you focus on the past tense, what they did last time, how did they purchase last time, when some incidents happened last week, what did they do, what solutions did they use — you get reality. And then the key step is to interpret that reality. And this is the key point — YOU do that interpretation, not the interviewee.

This helps you answer the most important question of all — “why bother”. Why should anyone be bothered that your product exists? Why should anyone bother to learn your product and how it works? Why should anyone bother to switch from a competitor? They will because of x,y,z. This then is the gold.

The Standing Wheelchair

I love this one, because clearly the person did not ask for a standing wheelchair. Rather, they were asked to illustrate what they don’t like about being in a wheelchair for a long time (being below eye contact when talking to others, pain in certain areas, restricted view etc) and then the product person took that, owned the interpretation, devised a solution and went back to test if she was right on all that.

Context: ‘Why Bother’ or ‘Candidate Solutions’?

There are two main contexts.

  1. One is discovering what to build, which answers the why bother question. Another is to go from knowing that into the details of the solution such as UX details like “does this navigation menu help people in their workflow”.
  2. On a much more detailed level, you are no longer answering the why bother question, but rather a question like “tell me whats wrong with this, if anything”. Again, the ‘why’ is an important question when someone doesn’t like it but we’re no longer talking about throwing the whole thing out the window (because we know why a customer would bother) but rathering asking if this candidate solution is the one solution to what they are bothered about.

That’s why it’s less about honesty and politeness and more about digging. Dig, dig, dig and eventually the why bother will come out and then you can start into question two which is what fixes this.

Exceptional solutions like that wheelchair are now the standard. We finally start to mix psychology and product development since the design thinking era and I think it’s a great time to build products.

About Patrick O'Malley