When you are building a product step back to BEFORE you have the user in your grips – and consider their pre-purchase expectations. Customers don’t come to a product by chance. They will educate themselves to get TO your product. These fictional, future customers want to easily find information and resources to help them make a decision. This is their journey and you are well served to understand the journey they take to get to your would-be product. Even better – they’ll have run across your presence very early, and very consistently throughout their buying journey.
Reality: Customers want to easily find information and resources about industry best practices.
This is the expectation our world has created. Living by word-of-mouth is honorable but you should do yourself a favor and put the word on the internet too.
Before You Build: Be prepared to be easily findable. Do you have a plan to be findable? Do you know what being findable means? Before you begin your build-out, invest some time and energy thinking through these questions. Don’t leave these important questions as afterthoughts.
Reality: The customer expects vendors to have information online about their solutions, pricing, and differentiation.
Before You Build: Be prepared to provide these resources openly. Before you build, take a look at your own mindset – lazy? Resistant? Bored with the need to document? reluctant to make it available to casual users – or, God forbid, the competition? You will be left in the dust of modern product development. Work through your personal issues about information sharing and don’t move forward until you’ve gotten that in check.
Reality: The customer expects to be able to speak with others about their experience. Even early adopters don’t want to feel lonely.
Before You Build: Be prepared to roll out a plan that will develop a market of people who will be willing to test out, adopt or otherwise beat on your product. Not only will this help your process, it’ll give your future customers a sense of serene well-being.
Reality: Customers expect readily available documentation, installation instructions and sources for help.
Before Your Build: Be prepared to build something that “installs itself” and needs little to no support. The easiest products to use are the hardest to build – if you aren’t prepared to build something that can be described that way – don’t bother.
Don’t bother getting started if you aren’t down with these simple realities. That’s ok, right? Because we both know you’ve not started yet, because you are smart enough to do your homework BEFORE that first line of code, UI wireframe, or business plan … and for those of you who are too anxious to do that homework FIRST – there’s still time to save your souls.