Who Will Be Using This Product?

Any creator of a successful app or service has probably considered this question a great deal. Those that haven’t considered it either won’t have long-term success or can only remain profitable because they have a monopoly on the service.

It’s all about seeing things from the perspective of the user – someone who may be new to the service or product or place. For example, a tourist trying to find her way around a city. It may be obvious to a local person how to get from Street A to Street B, but only because the local person has done it hundreds of times before!

For someone new, the ease with which she can navigate effectively depends on accurate information which is readily available (such as a maps application or actual physical road signs). Without accurate information, she will either have to rely on the answers from passers-by, or simply hail a taxi to her destination even though it is only a five minute walk away.

If she can walk there by herself, she will have positive things to say about the tourism infrastructure in the town she is visiting.

If she has to take a taxi, pay extra money, and potentially be taken a long way round by a driver who knows she is unfamiliar, then she is likely to have rather negative thoughts about the place.

So it’s utterly, utterly vital to consider the perspective of the user. Yet this remains an afterthought in a lot of cases.

Let’s look at another real-world example. A national railway company has a website and application for customers to use to book intercity train tickets online. But the system has been created mostly without the customer in mind. Many people have complained. But these customer comments received by management have been accepted to create the illusion of good service but the comments themselves have not been genuinely understood or acted upon.

A train user wants to travel from City 1 to City 2, and both cities have two stations. The user does not mind which stations he uses, so long as he gets from City 1 to City 2 on a particular day. Unfortunately, he cannot simply search for tickets from City 1 to City 2, but rather has to search through all 4 of the following combinations to gain an overview of ticket availability:

City 1 Station A to City 2 Station A.

City 1 Station A to City 2 Station B.

City 1 Station B to City 2 Station A.

City 1 Station B to City 2 Station B.

It’s very, very inconvenient and time-consuming – all because the creator of the application and website did not even take into consideration the ease with which the customers might be able to use the service!

The primary reason this application is still being used is because it is run by a national company which has a monopoly on the sale of the tickets. Needless to say, as soon as a second application is created with the user in mind, an application which makes it possible to simply select a city rather than a specific station, the original application sees a swift drop in users who migrate in large numbers to the new application (most likely created by a private company) that actually considered their perspective and tried to make the booking process as simple as possible.

Always think from the perspective of the user. How can you make your service easier to use (especially for a first-time user) and easier to make a payment?