Start a product from real user needs

I’ve been designing online education products for K12 students. Since I have left the K12 period for quite a long time and have little communication with school teachers or students or their parents,usually I start designing a product after the boss or the marketing director told me what the users want.

And they told me what the users want usually because they have seen people using similar products. Sometimes because they “feel” that people would be covet for something.

Marketing directors or bosses have been dealing with users for years, and may have deep understanding of user’s needs. But how do we convert these understanding to products? I think there’re three steps in this:

  1. What people’s main concern and trouble is?What’s the priorities? (understanding people’s desire and trouble)
  2. What kind of product solution do people actually want?(finding out solutions)
  3. Would this product be competitive to its competitors? ( preparing for competition )

These questions are complicated to answer when we ourselves are not our target customers.(Paul Graham suggested we make something ourselves want.That’s really is the better case.)

Here’re several solutions for understanding people’s desire and trouble :

  1. Talk to your target users in person to find out the trouble they got in the activity;observe what they care in daily life;(This may be the most important one)
  2. Find several forums or social groups online to observe the topics they discuss;
  3. Behind complaining, what’s people’s ultimate goals are?What is it that encumbered them?
  4. If possible,acting as your target users.

The first and forth solution is not easy to take,but the second and third one is absolutely not direct enough.

Here’s one method for preparing for competition:

  1. Find your competitors’ products through app store or search engine,and find out the user reviews and some operation numbers.Find out what people feel about their features.

Unsolved problems:

  1. When trying to understand people’s desire and trouble, or user needs, what to observe and how to ask questions?
  2. If your solution is a feature list, how to simplify it and decide what should be done and what should not?

I’ll add more if I find out.

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