In Valid Logic

Endlessly expanding technology

Know thy customer

I frequently read stuff on WebHostingTalk. Yesterday I was catching up on the happenings of the week when I saw a post of a type I've seen elsewhere before. The premise is "we're a software development company, we're writing this product, what do you, our target customer, want in it?"

I always see those types of questions as a danger sign.

First, you should already know your customer base. Would you want a company who has no idea about taxes writing accounting software? Hmm. Maybe this way... would you want an auto mechanic who was given a manual on heart surgery to do your bypass? You, yourself, cannot solve a problem unless you understand the problem.

Working with a target audience is good. However I'd argue, show them something and ask for feedback, don't just ask them at the beginning without having anything to show. Also, narrow down who you ask. If you ask the world, you will get inundated with responses, but how to do you know the quality of those responses? Find target customers to work with. Those interested in your product, who have a reputation in the field or some sort of credibility, and allow their interests to be vested in your success.

By asking the world and trying to meet all those requests, you'll lack a sound focus on your product and scope. You may end up trying to do everything instead of tackling what is important. If you have to ask what the customer wants without having anything started, how do you actually know what is important?

In the post they also say they're beginning development within 72 hours and hope to have a prototype in a few weeks.

If you don't know your customer, how can you begin in 72 hours? What are you going to begin? You don't have a plan, priorities, or anything yet. And to get a prototype out in a few weeks with no game plan is unlikely.

Not to rag on anyone or anything. I wish them the best of luck, but far to often people over simply the process of building a product. Products aren't easy. It is easy to write a program, but there is far more work to turn it into a product.

Friday, June 12, 2009

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