Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Do you like it? Part 3

After reading posts one and two, you already know that short term feedback easily discourages change. It's very unforgiving to anything that's different in general. But - the longer you've been working on your new product concept, the more you actually need short term feedback to move forward.

When you choose to expose people to your mind-bending innovation for the first time, you're obviously interested in problems they face. Those reasons are the real roadblocks between you and a succesfull consumer product - not the fact that it's different. The reason these roadblocks are hard to spot by designers and engineers building the product, is because the first impression is hard to simulate.

The work that has gone into your product, is founded on top of technologies, conventions and patterns introduced by products that came before it. This means that your user interface will send messages that work against your new ideas. Those messages are causing test subject's brain to spit out incorrect suggestions how to interact with it, making the product appear 'unintuitive'. The point of these quick feedback sessions is to identify and fix those characteristics sending bad signals, not to validate the design itself. The long term feedback is used for that.

Simply kicking out unwanted messages saves a boatload of time and money, because you're not adjusting the product concept to match those unwanted messages (that weren't supposed to be there in the first place). This protects the core breakthroughs and principles that originally encouraged people to turn it into reality, as well as invited others to buy it. Without the need to do large architectural changes, more effort can be invested to stability and feature completeness. Everyone wins.

Building products with entirely new qualities, that bring real value to end users (and force the competition to do the same), requires a lot of cage rattling. Great products will not happen on their own. It requires a lot of passion, courage and determination to help people transcend their previous experiences. You're building them a friendly and motivating passage through the fear of change.

And when you take people to places they didn't know existed, their emotional response to that will be beyond 'liking'.

Thanks for reading and see you in the next post. In the meantime, agree or disagree, debate or shout. Bring it on and spread the word.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Do you like it? Part 2

The previous part introduced the problem of asking around for quick 'likes'. This post dives deeper into what makes the short term feedback so dangerous for new product development process.

The biggest challenge with short term feedback is how it forms. When people see or experience something for the first time (like your groundbreaking new product in this case), their brain is unconsciously trying to match that with any prior experience.

Time for a painfully accurate comparison: the human brain is like Microsoft's Office Assistant. It will suggest you things based on the information available to it. Irrelevant information will return irrelevant suggestion

Short test situations will give you plenty of data about dominant products that have been succesfully launched, but absolutely nothing to complete something that hasn't existed before. End users don't have the same vision that you have, nor have they used the product long enough for that vision to materialize.

Because people can't predict the future for you, they will be more than  happy  to  tell  you  about  their  color  preferences . Or about their hobbies, funny relatives and cute pets. You will hear why they like a certain font or type of food. Anything that comes to mind, really. Obviously, it's not their fault but yours. You're expecting answers they don't have; for problems they don't know. You might as well be interviewing lobsters. Or Clippy.

More tragically, you've just offloaded part of your product development responsibilities onto people paying your salary. Bravo, such a genious plan to escape later responsibility if things go sideways.

If you still think that one hour casual chat sessions with test subjects is all that it takes to validate new ideas and concepts, you leave me no other choice but to question your ability to read. Because this topic is not that hard to comprehend.

Everyone remotely familiar with studying user behavior are probably furious by now, and wish to point out that short term feedback can give useful insight, if you know how. That's why I saved it for the final part (when I get around to write it).

Thanks for reading and see you in the next post. In the meantime, agree or disagree, debate or shout. Bring it on and spread the word.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Do you like it? Part 1

It's a well known wisdom, that asking early whether people like the groundbreaking product you're working on or not, has a tremendous potential.

Potential to destroy that said product, damage your brand, or even kill off your company; depending of its size.

Did that get your attention?

Good, because it should. The critical feedback in building new products (vs. copied), is the long term one. As the name implies, it takes longer to form compared to the short term one. People have to use your product for months instead of hours. There's no shortcuts, no silver bullets.

Quickly dashing around for likes, opinions, ideas and suggestions is an open invitation for a disaster. You're only chasing popularity and trends. Meanwhile, important values and product opportunities are drifting away - never to be seen or achieved again. It's a great way to inflict potentially irreversible damage to everyone in the value chain.

Alright, let's give that some time to sink in.

In the next part, I'll explain why short term feedback sucks.

Thanks for reading and see you in the next post. In the meantime, agree or disagree, debate or shout. Bring it on and spread the word.