When talking to people or prospective clients about user testing and customer development, it sometimes takes a bit of convincing to get people to understand how effective it can be. Especially in the ideation phase. One common thing I hear is “Steve Jobs didn’t do it” so it’s not necessarily necessary. So here it is: you are not Steve Jobs. Not only are you not Steve Jobs, but you don’t have a team of the world’s best technologists and designers behind you. And let’s not forget that even though Steve Jobs was an amazing innovator, nobody does anything alone – he had a lot of help, recognized or not.
There’s a famous quote:
“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”
Customer development does not ask customers what they want. Customer development is intended to fully understand people and their behaviors in their environment with the goal of relating it back to whatever solution you’re trying to create for them. To quote Stephen P. Anderson:
“It’s all about people, their activities and the context of those activities.”
Check out a more extensive post from Stephen Anderson here.
Customers will never be able to tell you what the solution is, but customers are very good at articulating their problems or challenges: having a deep understanding of this, that is customer development.
Now, if we can get past the fact that none of us are Steve Jobs, how do know if what we’re building serves users needs, enough to create and build a business out of? User testing and customer development.