How to develop the right thing

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Whether you're developing your idea into a product (or making your product better, or switching to a different platform), or developing a new way to sell your product (re-designing your website, or deciding between an e-book or a video), the Nielsen-Norman Group recommends focusing on outcomes rather than outputs. So do Usher & Spur.

The article we're bringing to your attention today tells us that "In 1923, architect Le Corbusier wrote that a house is a machine for living in. That’s another way of saying that the features (everything that goes into designing and building a house) are subordinate to what we now call user experience (the benefits that accrue to the client who gets to live in the house)."

That means that your product is "a machine for delivering something your customer wants". In the case of text analytics software for example, it's a "machine for understanding what your customer's customers are saying". In the case of a freight forwarding company, it's a "machine for getting your customer's goods to destination on time and on budget". See what we're doing here? Once we start thinking like this, we realise that descriptions of how "easy" and "fast" your software is don't necessarily fit with what your customer wants. They are about outputs: ease of use, high-performance.

When we extend this thinking to marketing, your website might become a "machine for delivering to your customers the information they seek", not a showcase for your product or a conversion platform. A video might become a "machine for showing customers what they want to know", not a fun way to present this information we have, or a cool thing everyone does now. Again, it's about outcomes not outputs.

It's easy to focus on outputs or features because they are what provide the outcome, as the NN Group point out. That's why they recommend starting with the problem. So do we. When you begin by thinking in terms of your customer's problem, everything else follows on.

Click here to read the article.

Try this reasoning on your current projects and tell us below if it brings you insight. Enquiring minds need to know!