When was the last time you asked “Why wouldn’t I use my product”?

I’m a strong believer that founders need to truly love the problem and community they’re building their startup around.

This passion is what translates into the product vision that users fall in love with. Dattch and Robyn are a great example of this. Robyn’s passion is visible in every talk, interview and pitch she does which is expressed in how the product approaches the problem. The community believes what Robyn believes and as such they love the product! Others have tried to solve the same problem but potentially without the passionate for the user base they couldn’t make it work.

“As soon as we build something, we all tend to move increasingly from inquiry mode to advocacy mode at the very time where the former is needed and the latter can blind us.” Techcrunch

However, passion only gets you so far as you still need to execute. When you’re putting every living and breathing moment into the product it can become harder to see the bigger picture and the journey the user sees.

Missing Unicorns built from my own experience of identifying which designers and developers I could hire. While I was passionate about the problem and the product was functional I knew something felt wrong, the hard part was identifying how to start fixing it.

Given it’s easy to gain traction once you have started something, even if it’s wrong, I simply asked myself “Why wouldn’t I use this?”. I picked up a shiny sheet of A4 paper, looked at the dashboard and started to rip apart my “beautifully” created application which turned out to be surprisingly easy.

The use-case of “Find me the best designer to hire” was a problem I knew the product had to 100% nail so this felt a good place to start. I tried to solve this problem with a highly critical user mindset and proceeded to write down everything that felt wrong or stopped me. My initial list included notes like:

  • “Timeline sucks. Too noisy with rubbish”
  • “Too hard to import people. Who should I even be importing?”
  • “Want to add notes after importing”
  • “Changes identifed are boring”
  • “People/Dashboard needs search. Still too hard to find / know who / why you care about them”
  • “Discovery page needs filtering. How can I even find people I know”

“MVP is not an excuse to make shitty software” 12spokes

Looking at the list it was clear – the product was broken. Terms like boring, rubbish, too hard are things you never want to see but I knew what required fixing.

With a number of small tweaks, a few touches here and there the product started to have the connected feel and togetherness it previously lacked. I repeated the process with the updates, asking myself the same question, “What’s stopping me from finding the best designer?”. This time the list looked very different.

  • “How can I identify who are designers, who are developers, who are both”
  • “After importing, need ability to add a note”
  • “After adding, have suggestions of others”
  • “Identify tags for people”

A fairly obvious oversight of not splitting out the two skill sets but the rest had become nice to haves. I had stopped writing sucks, too hard, boring and my tone became much softer. It was clear I had begun adding features and not solving the problem.

Once all you’re doing is adding features then it’s time to stop and let the users to break it. If you want to be one then subscribe to the mailing list below

Cross posted to http://missingunicorns.com/blog/when-was-the-last-time-you-asked-why-wouldnt-i-use-my-product/

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