For the Users: Customer-Driven Development

Everyone says they’re building their product for the customers. Us included.

“Always design with the customer in mind,” they say.

“We listen to our customers,” they say.

And they’re right. But why not actually ask the customers what they want and just build what they’re asking for?

“We might be driven off-track if we implement what our customers want.” This may come up as an argument to stick to the vision path and never deviate from the roadmap.

However, in the end, aren’t we trying to build something for the customers? Aren’t they 100% entitled to decide what features go into a service or product?

My assumption is that our users know what they want better than us. 
Yes, it might not be exactly what they need. They’re definitely not taking into account all the implications of what they’re asking. And yes, there might be a simpler way to provide them with what they’re asking — but all of that is part of our job as the company behind the service.

It’s our main task to take the customer’s wishes, needs and desires, do some heavy brainstorming, and come up with the simplest and most effective solution to serve their needs.

Because of this, we’re approaching the new Monitive platform (codename “Freyja”) with a different perspective. We’ve build the very basic core of the product, and launched it.

Along with it comes a public forum of ideas and feature requests — a place where users can add ideas, discuss them, and even vote. Then, our team can browse through the forum and implement the ideas with the most important functionality.

Public feedback forum for Monitive “Freyja”

Specific example

As we’ve built an uptime monitoring service, it would only make sense to add some sort of reporting, even if it’s as simple as a weekly report.

Right?

Wrong!

It’s not even in the top five of our feature requests from users. As it turns out, users want the ability to group monitors, to see graphical data, to integrate with Zapier, to have a public status page, to export sites from the old platform, to add users, and much more.

But not a single request for a weekly report.

Therefore, today we’re starting to implement the “group monitors” feature, as it is exactly what the customers want. Hooray!

The catch

There’s one caveat here… Henry Ford!

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
 — Henry Ford

Every time I think about having the user-base drive the product roadmap, Henry’s quote keeps popping into my head. And he’s absolutely right. He was a visionary — an inventor.

But we’re not.

We’re not trying to invent the next unicorn, or radically change something that people have been doing forever. We’re just in the business of shaping a better, brighter internet — one site at a time. Specifically, we’re providing services to people that want to improve their site’s availability, which ultimately makes the customer’s users happier as they go about their days.

This being said, it’s still up to us to find the best approach for each request — the simplest solution with minimal impact on the overall product — so that the chances of screwing the product up are as low as possible.

And, of course, our responsibility is to ensure all features work as expected, without bugs or issues in the long run.

See for yourself…

If you’re curious on what we’re doing, take a front row seat and try out the new Monitive!

Enroll for the private beta testing and we’ll set you up in no time!