Life is too short for building products nobody will use

Life is too short for products nobody will use

You start a vision of great product that will revolutionize people’s life or, to be a little more modest, just make it fairly easier. So you have the idea how to solve specific user’s problem and you also have the right tool – a beautiful and easy to use app. At first glance nothing can go wrong.

You believe your product can directly bring people more pleasure or happiness or just save their time. That precious time could be spent on increasing their pleasure and life happiness the way they want to. Whatever the case is, it means you made some meaningful contribution to the world. This is the initial vision. What happens next?

Vision vs reality

After some time of emotional and financial involvement you discover that your product didn’t earn the expected recognition nor produced the revenue. Nobody saved any time because nobody really used your application. To make it worse, the great deal of your time was irrecoverably lost. As Ash Muraya states: “Most startups fail and can consume years of your life”.

This is not a rare nightmare scenario – it’s actually the reality. According to Forbes nine out of ten startups fail. Number one of the biggest reason for the failure given by the startup founders was “the lack of a market need for their product”. How is it possible that so many “revolutionary” ideas seem to miss the target despite the great, feature rich products behind them?

New Atlantis for building commercial applications

Building a great, easy to use and beautiful application seems to be easier than ever before. Experimenting became significantly simpler and cheaper – startups spring up like mushrooms. Businesses benefit from globalization, outsourcing, companies providing tools and expertise in different areas at any time around the globe eased by the instant communication. You don’t have to own factory plants or warehouses anymore – you rent the production capabilities including cloud computing power accounted per seconds. As you can leave the technicalities and strategy of doing things to the experts, now you can use all that saved time to focus merely on the product’s vision.

The desirable object of desire

We can actually build whatever product we want as long as we have two most important resources: time and money. Once we have them all, product feasibility problems are overcome. However, the ease of fostering your business thanks to the development and technology can be actually self-deceiving. In the deluge of all the new amazing opportunities of software development it is very easy to lose the sight of the product desirability and viability. In other words the key question is the following: do customers really want the product we are building?

The essence of the product are the core features. However, there is something more in the product beyond that. What proves product’s viability and value is whether the proposed solution fits the problem people actually have. If people don’t use our product, it can mean one of the two things:

  1. Our solution is bad.
  2. OR our problem definition is bad.

The latter implies that our state of the art software addresses a non-existent need. If the assumptions we do about the users are wrong, the solution must be wrong as well. As a quantum physicist Nobel prize winner Heisenberg stated:

“It is the theory which decides what we can observe”

Wrong theory proves wrong conclusions. A good product idea and a strong technical team are not a guarantee of a sustainable business. The secret lies in uncovering latent needs of the customers. And this is not an easy task. As Henry Ford observed already over 100 years ago:

“If I had to ask my people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”

Since then nothing really changed – a very similar remark was done much later by Steve Jobs:

“It’s not the customer’s job to know what they want”

In search of the lost time

Despite having all the technology and services available at your fingertips, you can still be bouncing of walls in understanding the customer’s needs. And everybody is unhappy: you lose time and money on producing apps nobody wants to use, your customers lose their time and patience on trying the product they don’t need. Nobody benefits here. Your new app that was supposed to conquer the world ends up as yet another junk app.

This is why at Nomtek we value the user research in the product discovery phase. No technological tricks can replace a thoughtful design. Our experience in mobile app design and development is that features to-implement driven requirements simply doesn’t work. At Nomtek we look at your business beyond the obvious features list the software should have. Instead, we try to learn and understand the user’s perspective – to know why we build software and for whom. What are his/her needs, the problem the software should solve, how it fits into the user’s lifestyle. We believe the key to any business growth hacking is based on two pillars. One involves the final customer heavily in the development process. The second one is to apply the state of art knowledge in product’s usability to make his or her experience the best possible. For us software is not merely a number of implemented features but it has something more: a secret ingredient expressed in the art of user research combined with agile development and UX expertise.