WHAT YOUR USERS NEED VS WHAT YOUR COMPANY NEEDS

Newsletter sent on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2021


Two essential characteristics significantly influence the success of a new software product:

  1. Ability to meet your company’s (or personal) goals;
  2. Ability to solve user problems;

Stop reading for a second and think of some examples. I’ll give you two exaggerated ones.

An example of 1 without 2

You make something technically capable of doing whatever your company wants. Think of monetization and the capability to display ads. In most cases, this doesn’t add real value to your users’ lives, and this capability alone won’t improve user engagement.

An example of 2 without 1

When you build something loved by the users, but it doesn’t help to get closer to your mid-term goals. Imagine a flawless “Delete your account” screen. Some users will love and appreciate it, for sure, but will this affection pull your business further?

It’s crucial to have those goals and regularly track your progress against them. It’s also essential to listen to your users and address their desires and pains. So, how doing those two things is even possible at the same time?

The common fallacy is that improving 1 will degrade 2 and vice versa no matter what you do. In reality, however, there are plenty of opportunities at the intersection. The path to finding those opportunities lies through understanding and formulating user and business needs, validating them, producing the list of possible features and finally selecting the ones that will reinforce both abilities.

Finding the intersection is not easy, but a sure way is to start jamming with stakeholders and experts of your company to go through the motions of zooming out and exploring and zoom in and selecting the opportunities at the intersection.

The sign that you’re getting there is when all involved parties have developed a “language” to talk about business outcomes, user value and development effort without neglecting either of those aspects.

You are finally there once you routinely come up with features that organically support desired business outcomes and user value proposition because that’s where you derived them from.

Cheers, Mike

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