A client and I recently met at a coffee shop to discuss a project. After a talking for a while it became clear that we were talking in circles. There was some kind of disconnect between us and I couldn’t figure out what it was.
After thinking about it afterwards, I think I figured it out. I had spent so much time trying to nail down what kind of app they wanted to build that I didn’t stop to consider what kind of help they wanted from me.
We had talked about doing a complete rewrite of an app they had only partially finished. However, after a long talk I discovered they weren’t completely sold on the whole rewrite idea. I should have picked up on this and figured out that what they might have wanted was for me to just work on the existing app, flawed though it was, instead of rebuilding it.
When you’re talking to customers you need to tease out what their interests are. What are they looking to achieve? What are their problems? What pains are they experiencing?
It’s exactly the same process when building a product. It’s all well and good to have an idea of what a customer might want or need. That’s a good starting point but it’s only the first step.
The next step is to actually listen to your customers, observe how they interact with what you’ve built, and discover what it is they actually need. This is almost always different from what you think they need.