Not really caring about users' gets us in the endUser Analysis - not just a team building exercise

Understand your users or your competitors will. And they will build a product that better meets their goals. This is too important simply to treat as an annual team-building activity.

Relationships require effort. Genuine effort. Understanding requires genuine interest. I've seen too many teams with stagnant User Persona's stuck on walls - getting an occasional mention as an after thought. Your users change just like you do. Technology evolves, their needs evolve. You need to keep users close to your business in order to spot these changes and opportunities early on.

We've all discarded note-taking applications over the years in favour of an app that worked better and often this choice had little to do with the ability of the app to store text in a document. The list of reasons why certain note-taking applications win the feature war is a post in of itself - but let's just say, Notion, Evernote, Google Docs, OneNote, Google Keep, Apple Notes, Bear, etc all have users who choose them for specific reasons. Notion, a (fairly) new-entrant has carved a section of an already crowded market because they offer something different for a subset of note-taking users. They offer a powerful collaborative database so knowledge can easily be shared between people and flexibility! Users can nest content within content, create templates of anything including multi-page layered content, and embed text/video with handy previews. Not all users need this. But to those who do, Notion is a breath of fresh air. Imagine though if Notion were to lose sight of their users and how their technology operates in the real world? They would soon find themselves building features that users don't need, or can't use as intended.

Plus, Notion started off as a no-code tool that people back in 2015 didn't seem to need, despite the boom in no-code tech. Ivan and Simon nearly ran out of funds and had to start again from ground zero. And yours truly is a beneficiary of their pivot to the Notion we know today!

“We focused too much on what we wanted to bring to the world,” Ivan put it. “We needed to pay attention to what the world wanted from us.” Ivan Zhao, co-founder Notion.

Focusing on user needs, isn't just an annual sticky note fest at Notion. Nor does gathering user feedback need to be expensive and time consuming. Using emails for starters is sufficient, and logging all the feedback qualitatively in order to steer product direction is a good start.

Questions to keep in mind:

  1. How are users actually using our product? You might find that users see value that you might not recognised.
  2. In what context are users using our product? Where are they? On which devices? Is there a reason why your product meets a need in a specific context? How can your product improve for the user, based on this contextual insight?
  3. What are your users complaining about the most? This might give an indication as to what they actually care about because let's face it, complaining is annoying in of itself. Users' complaining is a good sign. It shows they care about something.
  4. What are users asking for and why? This can give you an idea of what users actually want to use your product for, and where you fill a gap in the market.

Article by Ange Tonge - user researcher, product owner and music producer.

Ange Tonge

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