We see a lot of pitches for apps here at Neon Roots, and there are few things that would-be product owners are more proud of than their feature lists. They treat their feature list like it’s a one-way ticket to the front page of Inc. Magazine, and they hold onto it for dear life when they feel threatened. “But look,” they say, “We’ll have social logins! And an in-app messaging system! And color customization! And custom geo-tagging! And a font pack with over 3,000 different fonts!” That’s all well and good, and those features might be very enticing to users. But who, exactly, told you they would be?
If you’re like many founders, your feature list likely came from your own brain. While we admire your devotion, that’s a problem – because in the world of digital products, your users don’t want something unless they tell you they do. It may well be that having a native, in-app messaging system is the difference between a new user joining or forgetting about your app – but until you’ve done the proper user research, there is no way for you to know if that feature is actually a benefit or not. And users don’t adopt new products and services for features – they adopt them for benefits.
So how do you find out what your users actually want? Let us count the ways: find potential customers and just ask; hold use trials and videotape your beta-testers (as well as their screens); even using a simple Google Form is a better option than drafting up a feature list off the top of your head. How you go about it matters much less than whether or not you do it. Only by going to potential users and gathering data from them, in their own words, can you find out what exactly they want from your product – and what would simply be an expensive waste of time.
Our thanks to Samuel Mann for the photo.