I hate it when I put all my time and energy into building the wrong thing.
I remember early in my career, I was working on a product research search engine, Become.com. I was working across three roles: product manager, interaction design, and front-end software engineer. That sounds crazy to me today, but that's life at a startup.
In those days, AJAX was brand new. Google had just launched suggest-as-you-type search suggestions and everyone was rushing to learn and apply this new technology. I was excited to try it out.
I wanted to create a favorites feature where shoppers could add products to their favorites list without leaving the search results page. Now today, this sounds pretty straight-forward. But back then, everything took a page reload. So to be able to take any action without leaving the page was a novelty.
I spent a few days learning about AJAX, dissected Google's new code, and started designing and coding my new feature.
Guess what happened? That's right. Nobody used it.
Our shoppers didn't care about saving favorites. They weren't browsing. They were trying to get the best deal on the one item they already had in mind. They weren't looking for new products, they were looking for the best price on a Nikon DSLR or the latest Sony XBR TV.
My feature flopped. And the reality is, it was my fault. I knew better.
I'd been advocating user-centered design since the day I arrived at this company. I even usability-tested my feature before releasing it. But I was asking the wrong question. I was asking, "Can people use it?" I should have been asking, "Do people need / want this?"
Thankfully, over the course of my career, I learned to ask better questions. I learned to ask more questions earlier in the development process—saving time, saving effort, and most importantly, saving my ego. That flop hurt.
I wasn't the only one going through this transformation. We've seen a similar evolution across the internet industry. And today, many teams are avoiding flops by asking better questions earlier in the process. I want to help you do the same.
In this free email course, you'll learn how:
Who doesn't want that? And did I mention it's free? Enroll now.
Teresa is a product discovery coach who helps teams gain valuable insights from their customer interviews, run effective product experiments, and drive product outcomes that create value for their customers and their businesses. She teaches teams how to connect the dots between their research activities and their product decisions, inspiring confidence that they are on the right track. Recent clients include Allstate, Capital One, The Guardian, and Snagajob.